After the Rapture; Video game Crusaders
IMAGINE the headlines. The sensational news. Muslims use video war game to brainwash youngsters that non-believers must be killed.
It would be front-page news. There would be demands to ban the offending game and arrest those purveying it. Mr.Blair and his ministers would call upon moderate Muslims to dissassociate themselves from those preaching holy war.
There would be an outcry against whichever rogue state was permitting the production and export of the offensive item.
Have no fear. I've not heard of any video game like the one described. Except. that is, there is one - but it's a Christian war game, produced in the United States and approved by evangelical Christians. Marketing has not been confined to militaria geeks in obscure right-wing magazines, it was in the big stores ready for Christmas.
"Last year superstore chain Wal-Mart enraged religious conservatives by instructing employees to wish customers 'Happy Holidays.' Well, ’tis the season to be jolly — Wal-Mart switched back to 'Merry Christmas' and now Christian conservatives are happy. This year it is liberals who are protesting — over Wal-Mart’s decision to stock on its shelves the Evangelical video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces.
"Based on the best-selling 'Left Behind' books, the game’s plotline begins after the Rapture, in that den of sin known as New York City. The player is a member of the newly faithful who must convert or kill evil nonbelievers who are led by the leader of a United Nations-like organization, who, by the way, also happens to be the anti-Christ. Some of the religious conservatives who fought in the front lines in the war on the 'War on Christmas' are commending the sale of the game as educational and wholesome — despite often being the first to condemn 'dangerous' violent video games. 'Eternal Forces is the kind of game that Mom and Dad can actually play with Junior,' declared Pluggedin.com, an entertainment Web site run by Focus on the Family, a prominent right-wing Christian organization".
Merry Christmas, Now Die, Jewish Daily Forward, Fri. Dec 22, 2006
Besides getting it out to the stores, it seems the producers were rushing a million copies of the game to Churches on their mailing list. "Aimed at 13 to 34-year-old males, it casts the player as a director of God's Earthly militia, left behind in the Rapture to roam the streets of New York, battling Satan's minions and shooting unbelievers". (The Register, ref. below)
The sellers are trying to dispel criticism by claiming their game does not mention the word "Christian" (some Christians might say just as well) and that other people can enjoy it. Sure I suppose some Native American kids could play with a game about shooting Redskins and for all I know some Jews might not have objected to a German game about killing Jews. But most people did object. Anyway, we all know God's Own Country is America, and the game shows the UN as the anti-Christ, which suits both god-squaders and backwoods militia freaks.
Being no theologian, I had to look up the special religious use of the word "Rapture". It apparently refers to the Apocalyptic events when born-again Christians will be raised up to join Jesus in Heaven, while those of us who have not taken out this insurance will be despatched to nether regions. Seems in the game, as in some theology, this is not left to the Almighty.
It may not sound like Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild, or much to do with Seasonal Peace and Goodwill to All Men, but I expect it sells or Wal-Mart would not be stocking it. Mind you, some people who are into games rather than god's militia say it is "crap" and won't make the arcades.
Some versions of the apocalyptic vision which paralleled the rise of the neo-cons, emerging during the Reagan years and again under Bush, envisage a nuclear Holocaust beginning in the Middle East to speed the ascent of the righteous and destruction of non-believers. Israeli Zionists, welcoming fanatical support and big investment from Evangelical Christian fundamentalists, turn a blind eye to the fate cast for them if they don't take advantage of the last-chance conversion offer.
And you thought only Ahmadinejad was meshugge? America not only has more than enough Bombs to destroy the world but too many people prepared to use them. Whereas this is only a game....
Apparently if you are so minded you can download a beta version of the game. I'd resist the temptation. According to one report the game is full of hidden extras. "Watchers of right-wing Christian groups in the States say a new apocalyptic videogame released by cultish Revelations-based fiction series Left Behind is riddled with spyware. Developers have incorporated software from an Israeli firm called Double Fusion. It incorporates video advertising and product placement into the game, and reportedly records players' behaviour, location, and other data to be uploaded to Left Behind's Bible-powered marketing machine."
Maybe with US forces not doing so well outside the virtual games, and talk of a "surge" of troops being needed, the spyware can also be adopted to assist in fast-tracking draft papers for the war game adepts.