Tuesday, June 6, 2006

A Christian-themed electronic video game will feature battles pitting armies of a One World Government against the forces of God.

The forces of Satan in this New York City-based game are represented by so-called “Global Community Peacekeepers” based at the United Nations.

“They give arms to the Antichrist,” said Troy A. Lyndon, founder and chief executive officer of Left Behind Games Inc., the company that has produced the diversion, due in stores in October.

The goal of the game, called “Left Behind: Eternal Forces,” Mr. Lyndon said, is to use action-packed military adventure to get U.S. teens and others to consider issues of eternal importance, such as their spirituality.

“Thinking about what will happen when you die should be as exciting as ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’” Mr. Lyndon said.

Despite the violence of the game, promoters say it embodies Christian values. There is prayer for soldiers before battle, and players lose “spirit points” for unnecessary killings. The promoters suggest Jesus’ commandment that his followers should “turn the other cheek” has been misunderstood.

“The Bible says you do not have to stand there and let someone kill you,” said Derek Asato, a spokesman for Left Behind Games.

“Jesus did not say you have to let yourself be a punching bag or murder victim,” Mr. Lyndon said in a telephone interview.

In the spirit of equanimity, the game offers players the chance to switch sides in the battle of good versus evil and fight for the Army of the Antichrist. But the emphasis of the game, the company says, is to make people recognize there will be consequences for their behavior. So this choice will unleash demons that first attack the faithful but eventually also bring down nonbelievers.

Mr. Lyndon said the game is “not preachy” and seeks to have people “re-evaluate and improve their lives” without using religious doctrine. “Religion has not given God a good name. It has prejudiced and hurt a lot of people.”

“Left Behind: Eternal Forces” is based on the best-selling series of “Left Behind” books by co-authors Timothy LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. The books offer a fictional account of the New Testament Book of Revelation, complete with the Apocalypse, Armageddon and a temporary rule by Satan.

The game’s heroes, the Tribulation Force, comprise a group of survivors whose family members have been taken to heaven as part of a divine intervention known as the Rapture. Those “left behind” face seven years of tribulation. In the game, they struggle in the Big Apple, where they battle the Global Community Peacekeepers to recruit lost souls.

Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention and Focus on the Family yesterday declined to comment on the game, saying they were not familiar with it.

Asked whether the goal of “Eternal Forces” is to lead people to Christianity, Mr. Lyndon said: “Our focus is more on the teachings of Jesus, and his prayers for hope, love and peace, than on proselytizing.”

He said his company hopes to sell about 500,000 games, priced at $49.95 each. A main target for marketing will be so-called “megachurches,” which have thousands of members.

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