Wednesday, July 25, 2007

LB:EF - More response to criticisms

I have previously responded to and reproduced the game developers' responses to many of the criticisms regarding LB:EF:

The left's lies about "Left Behind: Eternal Forces"

New S&B; series: "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" in detail

I've since run across a few more criticisms and a few more of the game developers' responses.

First of all, here's a few more of the developers' comments:

Isn’t the game about converting people or die?
Absolutely not. The purpose of our game was to introduce an alternative to the gratuitously violent games in the marketplace. Our game is a real-time strategy game, which means there is a lot of game play specific to finding recruits, building up housing and food supplies to support them…and looking after both the physical and spiritual health of all your recruits. The most successful way to fight, is through the means of spiritual warfare; PRAYER and WORSHIP. Soldiers and military weaponry are available, but once anyone plays the game, they’ll see how difficult it is to succeed by using these less effective means of warfare. And remember, this is NOT a first-person shooter where a guy gets a gun and is told to blow everyone away. It’s a strategy game, nothing violent by comparison to the dark content in the video game industry.

What about Left Behind theology?
When people come against us for the doctrinal view of Left Behind, we state that future prophecy teaching is NOT a part of the game. We recognize that not all Christian groups believe the world will end the same way, and we did not want that to be a barrier…so instead, we use the storyline of Left Behind as a fictional backdrop to the game stories.

How can you justify the violence in the game?
There is no violence, only conflict. When playing chess, if a bishop takes a pawn, you can show it violently by having the pawns’ head taken off with blood squirting out, or you could just show the conflict by having the pawn fall down. The fact is, our game is ‘less’ violent than a Star Wars game. And if a parent still has a problem with the conflict in the Star Wars’ movies or games, I’d recommend they buy a Nintendo Wii and stay away from the other console or PC games.

Is this a game about Christians against the other faiths; the Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists?
Absolutely not. The term Christian is never used to refer to the Tribulation Force. However, the Antichrist is the perfect badguy for people of all religions…since he wants to snuff out what anyone can believe. Imagine Hitler against the world times 10.

What about Timothy Simpson’s claims?
We spoke with Tim Simpson offline, and when we initially asked him about his complaints, he said it was the theology. When we clarified that we had removed any end-of-days teaching, and only use it as a fictional backdrop, Mr. Simpson has since changed his view and found something else to speak about. Unfortunately, when we asked him what the name of the first level character in the game was, which is “LEONARD”, he didn’t know the answer. And this is proof that many people say they played the game, but in reality, they haven’t.

How would you summarize the controversy?
We believe many people are unfairly using our game as a political or media opportunity to perpetuate traffic to their websites in an effort to increase their constituencies. In contrast, others who have spoken out have showed an honest attempt to help us resolve issues they may have found in certain levels of the game. When this is the case, by all means, we’ll make a game patch and publish it to insure our game holds up to the highest of standards and truth. All others that have spoken out against our game, declined from having a productive discussion offline. For them, we can only hope they’ll realize our heart to “make a difference” and work with us to make the game more reflective of the views we share.

I, too, have run into people who have criticized the game either sight-unseen, after having only played an out-dated version of the demo or after playing through just a couple missions. No other game is ever judged this way. For example, had people judged the first "Tomb Raider" game by the training level or first level, it never would've been the blockbuster hit it became. The training and first levels of "Tomb Raider" are simplistic, unchallenging and boring, but they help teach you how to play the game. The same goes for LB:EF.

As to criticisms I've personally run across, the most prevalent ones question the theology of the game and the mixing the Gospel with the marketing for the game.

As far as the theology goes, you already read above how the designers responded to this issue. Some accuse the game (and books) of teaching Dispensationalism (i.e. End Times theology), which they deem to be unbiblical and - for some bizarre reason - extremely offensive. (These same people are quick to throw up the "well, that's your interpretation - not mine" line to defend their beliefs. However, when it comes to Dispensationalism, they're quick to denounce it as absolutely false with no discussion or chance for someone to say "that's your interpretation, not mine.") Even if the game was about teaching Dispensationalism (which it isn't), so what? It has no bearing on the issue of salvation. People who believe in Dispensationalism are no more or less saved than those who don't and vice versa. Romans 14, which I hope the anti-Dispensationalists know, reminds us not to pass judgment on disputable matters. Interpreting the book of Revelation is a disputable matter. In fact, I think it's the biggest disputable matter for Christians is interpreting the book of Revelation. Only a very foolish person would say either "Dispensationalism is absolutely wrong" or "Dispensationalism is absolutely correct." It's an open-ended question and people need to remain open-minded about it. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case with many of the critics of LB:EF. They've unequivocally judged the "theology in the game" to be "horrible" and "completely false." Says who? In any case, the game developers (and even the authors of the books) have taken the open-minded stance to the issue of the End Times. They present all sides and encourage people to search for their own answers (e.g. here). I've never heard such a statement made by any of the game's critics.

The other criticism I ran into most often involved the issue of marketing. Some felt that linking the Gospel and marketing - however tenebrous the link - was a horrible offense. This criticism is just plain silly. There is simply nothing unbiblical about buying and selling goods and there is certainly every reason to use biblical principles regarding business (and everything else in life). Left Behind Games is a business and they make a product. Businesses that make products need to use marketing to distribute and sell them. That's just a fact of life in this day and age (as it was 2000 years ago) and, as I have already said, there's nothing unbiblical about it. If there were something unbiblical about it, a lot of Christians would be in trouble. From Christian bookstores to Christian publishers and even to those who distribute Bibles for free, marketing is an integral part of what they do. Marketing is not evil, even if it is linked to products which have a Christian message.

I should point out, too, that these two criticisms (and most other criticisms) of LB:EF come from liberal Christians - i.e. people who tend to be greatly biased against things like Dispensationalism and marketing. This is strange as these are the same people who constantly demand that their beliefs and views be treated with open-mindedness and tolerance by conservative Christians. I'm all for open-mindedness and tolerance on disputable issues, but I am also for open-mindedness and tolerance being a two-way street. As the criticisms of LB:EF show, it usually isn't. Liberal Christians are quite close-minded and intolerant of conservative Christians' beliefs. I'm fine with that. I will point out their hypocrisy in demanding for themselves what they do not afford others, but it's ultimately their choice to be that way and I will never say they are wrong or have false beliefs on disputable issues. We are, after all, brothers and sisters in Christ and are called to love each other.

Previous posts:

LB:EF - Mission 17
LB:EF - Mission 16
LB:EF - Missions 13, 14, and 15
LB:EF - Mission 12
LB:EF - Missions 9, 10 and 11
LB:EF - Addressing an opening animation criticism
LB:EF - Easter egg?
LB:EF - Email from the game's senior producer!
LB:EF - Missions 6, 7 and 8
LB:EF - The first few missions
LB:EF - Tutorial
LB:EF - the manual
New S&B; series: "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" in detail
The left's lies about "Left Behind: Eternal Forces"

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