August 22, 2006

The Bible meets Grand Theft Auto

The Washington Post had an interesting story a couple days ago about next year's most bizarre video game. It is a "real-time strategy" game where you battle evil in order to save as many people as you can. Sounds pretty standard, doesn't it? Well Eternal Forces is anything but ordinary, as it is a computer game based on Left Behind book series (which is about the rapture):

In Eternal Forces, which is based on the first four books, the rapture has occurred and billions of people have disappeared from the planet. Players command the left-behind Tribulation Forces and battle the forces of the Antichrist, who happens to be employed as the head of a U.N.-like world government organization. The game's action takes place across 500 carefully re-created New York City blocks, stretching from Wall Street to Harlem.The object of the game is to recruit the members of New York's remaining "neutral" population to the side of God during a seven-year reign of the Antichrist. Players have to win over the remaining agnostics and unbelievers of New York City or kill them -- either before or after they are pulled to the forces of evil...Left Behind Games chief executive Troy Lyndon, a game industry veteran who was involved in early incarnations of Electronic Arts' Madden football franchise, is particularly fond of the game's "pray" button. Sending one's holy warriors into a bloody battle can hurt their morale; having them pray first can bolster their faith.
Honestly, this game sounds pretty cool. Basically you get to rampage through New York City and try and kill as many of your "enemies" as you can. Ironically this game was originally promoted as a response to the violence of popular games like Grand Theft Auto but the screen shot of "Eternal Forces" looks like it could just as easily be from the original Grand Theft Auto. What will inevitably happen, though, is that dozens of counterfeit versions will be released where computer geeks (who tend to be overwhelmingly liberal and have the amount of free time necessary to so brilliantly mock the creators of "Eternal Forces") will change the game so that you play as the Anti-Christ seeking to destroy Christians. Or perhaps the evil Anti-Christ will change from being the UN to the Republican party or the Christian Coalition. Then, the creators of the game will have to choose between ignoring the counterfeit versions or trying to take them down and bringing the versions all the attention that would come with such a battle. Also, this is a case of art imitating reality. Avid Simpsons fans might remember the video game Rod and Todd Flanders play at their Mom's funeral: Billy Graham's Bible Blaster (to play the game yourself go here, then click F-H, then click Rod Flanders, then click on the Bible Blasters icon).