Okay, so it’s the end times and it’s up to you save the world. How do you do it? Well, you pray, worship, and fight the forces of the Anti-Christ. The game is Left Behind: Eternal Forces, based on the best-selling Left Behind Series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.
There is a lot of controversy about the game (see links below) and it is difficult to get to the truth. Critics say the game glorifies violence by Christians, especially against people of other faiths. Defenders say you are penalized for perpetrating violence and killing innocents. Critics reply that once your spiritual points go down, all you have to do is pray to get them back up again.
Regardless where you come out, the game is questionable for several reasons:
- It is based on bad theology in several ways. It combines a literal reading of Revelation with the idea that Christians can save the world by themselves, with violence as an option for doing so.
- It allows violence to be a part of the game (the game is rated T), whether players are penalized or not.
- It definitely does not portray Jesus as the Prince of Peace. (Just a note: In Revelation Jesus is portrayed as the Lion who is the slaughtered Lamb, one who took violence rather than perpetrated it in order to save the world (see Revelation 5).
- It pushes a particular theological and political agenda without providing for the sophistication necessary for players to dialogue or raise questions about issues of faith. It paints a simplistic picture of good and evil in the world and the authors of course know which is which.
- In the multi-player version of the game, you can play either as part of the Tribulation Forces or the Anti-Christ’s Global Community Peacekeepers. However, putting Anti-Christ next to terms such as “global,” “community,” and “peacekeepers” is problematic at best for those of us who don’t see those terms as necessarily anti-Jesus.
The game is well-done, is getting great reviews, and will probably sell like crazy (just like the books did). We Christians like everyone else vote with our money. The choice is whether to support questionable media or help create alternatives.
In my opinion, the game leaves Jesus and lots of good theology behind. For those reasons it too should be Left Behind.
News links for more info on the Left Behind game controversy:
Anabaptist perspective on Revelation, World Events, and the Left Behind series by Loren L. Johns, Academic Dean, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary
Originally posted February 2007
Reposted in light of the passing of Dr. LaHaye.
Life is not a game.
The strength of your character is not determined by the roll of the dice.
There is no dungeon master to tell you where to go.
There are monsters.
Each day holds countless opportunities for you to be heroic.
If you are overwhelmed you can always make a Godcall
and if you take the time to look, there are treasures beyond all imagining more precious than silver or gold.
Recently I came across a rather hopeful article where game developer Derek Sneed discusses violence in the mainstream video game industry and his development of an alternative.
“I feel that the industry’s focus on presenting fantastic visceral excitement in a violent way is devaluating games as a medium of expression,” he says rather eloquently.
Sneed is designing a game called Deshori, inspired by a camping trip he took to Yellowstone awhile back, that he hopes will invoke a sense a wonder.
Deshori is first-person and takes place in a vast alien landscape. There are no weapons, but there is plenty of mystery and danger.
Sneed is trying to push the envelope of current game design that focuses on the “rush” of violence. “I just want to keep growing the types of games we don’t see as often, so that people can have a ton of different choices when it comes to picking something they enjoy,” he said.
“Deshori is about learning, the benefits of nonviolence, beauty in nature, and taking risks.”
I for one am very excited about the game and Sneed’s creative willingness to design a game that is delightfully different.
(Acknowledgement to Joshua Philipp for the original article)
PeaceGrooves is about the use of media to teach nonviolence. That is why we are excited about a recent anti-bullying initiative by the Cartoon Network.
Though the end of November, kids can visit www.stopbullyingcomics.com to participate in the “Stop Bullying: Speak Up Comic Challenge.”
Even if you don’t think you are an artist, you can create comics with an anti-bully message using the technology on the site where you can choose characters and create dialogue.
So visit the site and let your anti-bullying artist side out!
(Thanks to Kids Post for first reporting on this).
Last night our church sponsored a harvest party for the community. I volunteered to be the balloon guy. You know, those long thin sausage-like ones that get twisted into all sorts of shapes for the delight of children.
I don’t really know where I learned the talent but I suspect it was down in Guatemala. I traveled there a couple of times in the 90s with a medical mission ministry. I don’t have very many doctoring skills so my job was to play guitar and make balloon creatures for the children outside the clinic.
Lat night, I made the mistake of agreeing to one boy’s request that I make him a sword. Suddenly, every kid wanted one. Flabby sword fights were breaking out all over the church. It is so difficult to tell children no, especially when they are so cute.
But I did. “No more swords,” I said. And I began to make these really large elaborate hats (with a couple of poodles thrown in for good measure). There was some disappointment but eventually the sword fights gave way to goofy fun. It helped that the swords had a tendency to deflate and disappear so easily (if only that were the case in real life).
At the end of the evening, as I picked up bits and pieces of balloons from the floor and watched the parade of gaudy head gear walking out the door, I mused on another peacemaking lesson learned.
They’re not plowshares, but I guess twisted poodles and crazy hats will do.
About 30 years ago, two Mennonite teenagers began to create a Christian RPG patterned after Dungeons and Dragons.
We were both avid fans of D & D but began to have misgivings about the violence and the pagan religious elements in the game play (ie little g – god calls). We spent countless hours hashing out storylines, creating an entire series of games in a variety of landscapes and worlds. Of course we based our characterization on Ephesians 6 with fantasy elements. Our monsters (representing sins) in line with the Dark Lord fought with the characters at every turn, hoping to defeat them and keep them from earning TIH (Treasure in Heaven).
To say we were ahead of our time is an understatement. No one was anywhere close to attempting to do what we were doing. Had we completed the project I have no doubt that the venture would have been quite successful. So why did we stop developing our Christian RPG?
We made a conscious decision based on conscience. No matter how we hard we tried, using our current storyline, we could not get away from the violence. Fighting and killing monsters whether we called them sins or not was still fighting or killing monsters JUST LIKE D & D. We said the monsters were holograms/spirits from the Dark Lord to get away from the blood but the element of a violent act as the means to an end still remained. We called on our God to vanquish our enemies. The only difference from D&D? a capitalized letter. So we stopped development. I still have the original folders and notebooks in my Creative file upstairs.
Regrets? Sure but the dilemma has driven me these last decades and led to the formation of PeaceGrooves. It is still the driving force behind what we are trying to do – to help foment the creation of amazing games and media that do not need violence as the means to reach a goal.
No idea whether it reaches final completion or not is a waste. Each and every one builds towards a far greater good. Even if PeaceGrooves never produces a single game, my hope is that the conversation we have begun will continue. And brighter, more creative (younger) peace makers than us will fill the world with games of hope and compassion that celebrate the Prince of Peace.
I found the following article at Yahoo News! and have reprinted it due to its valuable content. Though video game companies continue to discredit any thought that video games can cause violent tendencies in players, who predominantly are male, we are still in the early stages of the video game society and I suspect we will be seeing more negative repercussions in the future. If young men are “hard wired” for violent play, what “wiring” is being contributed to or created through violent video games? And is being “hard wired” for violence a good thing or the primary reason the world (having been dominated by men for centuries) is in the mess that it is in?
Battling the Boys: Educators Grapple with Violent Play
LiveScience Senior Writer
LiveScience.com Wynne Parry
livescience Senior Writer
livescience.com – Sun Aug 29, 9:04 am ET
In her 30 years as a kindergarten teacher in Illinois and Massachusetts, Jane Katch has watched graham crackers, a pretzel, celery, tree bark and fingers all become transformed into imaginary guns and other weapons. And she has learned to work with, rather than against, the violent boyhood fantasies that accompany these transformations.
“When you try to ignore it, it doesn’t go away. And when you try to oppress it, it comes out in sneaky ways,” Katch said.
Not every teacher agrees. Schools have become battlegrounds between the adults who are repelled by the play violence they see and the children – primarily boys – who are obsessed with pretending to fight, capture, rescue and kill.
While some educators prohibit this behavior, other educators and researchers claim that banishing violent play from classrooms can be harmful to boys. It’s a debate entangled in gender issues, since nearly all early-childhood educators are women, and they may be less comfortable than their male counterparts with boys’ impulses.
While this behavior has been around far longer than toy guns and superhero movies – boys appear to be hard-wired for more active and aggressive pursuits than girls – many adults see this aggressive play being fueled by the violence portrayed or reported in the media.
“It is a very strange thing that is happening in our society,” said Katch, who is the author of “Under Deadman’s Skin: Discovering the Meaning of Children’s Violent Play” (Beacon Press, 2002). “The violence in the media is more and more explicit, and at the same time culture is coming down harder and harder on little boys’ own fantasies, which are actually much less violent than what is in the media.”
Michael Thompson, a psychologist who co-wrote “Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys” (Ballantine Books, 2000), rejects even this characterization of boys’ play.
“There is no such thing as violent play,” Thompson told LiveScience. “Violence and aggression are intended to hurt somebody. Play is not intended to hurt somebody. Play, rougher in its themes and rougher physically, is a feature of boyhood in every society on Earth.”
Four-year-old boys play superhero or enact mock fights much more frequently than girls, who seem to favor house or family themes for playtime, according to a survey of 98 female teachers who worked with these kids. Meanwhile, games involving chasing, protecting and rescuing are played about as frequently by girls as by boys, according to the teachers.
There is, however, a marked difference in how the teachers respond to these games. Almost half the surveyed teachers reported stopping or redirecting boys’ play several times a week or every day. Meanwhile, only 29 percent of teachers reported interfering with girls’ more sedate play on a weekly basis, according to the research conducted by Mary Ellin Logue, of the University of Maine, and Hattie Harvey, of the University of Denver, published in the education journal The Constructivist.
Logue cited multiple reasons for female teachers’ resistance to boys’ aggressive play.
“We don’t want to condone violence, we don’t want to risk it getting out of control, and we don’t want to deal with parents’ wrath,” Logue said.
When Logue and other teachers decided to allow play involving the imaginary “bad guys,” the adversaries in boys’ aggressive narratives, into their preschool program in Maine, one family left, some were anxious, but others were relieved, she said.
According to Thompson, this reaction often arises from mothers and female teachers who did not grow up playing the way boys play.
“They have a belief – call it an urban myth – that if boys play this way it will desensitize them to violence and they will grow up to be more violent. But it is a misunderstanding of what makes adults violent,” Thompson said.
For example, he said, how often are a convicted murderer’s actions explained by too many games of “cops and robbers” on the playground? There’s no link between the two, according to Thompson.
Male teachers might be better attuned to boys’ needs, but they are rare entrants into the worlds of preschools and kindergartens. In 2009, just 2.2 percent of pre-K and kindergarten teachers were men, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“It is a very low-paying, low-status job, and we know who gets those jobs,” Katch said.
Since that is not likely to change soon, women in those positions need to cultivate an understanding of little boys’ play, she said.
British researcher Penny Holland, author of the book “We Don’t Play With Guns Here: War Weapon and Superhero Play in the Early Years” (Open University Press, 2003), draws a parallel between the zero-tolerance policy once prevalent in playgrounds and nurseries in England and the focus by feminists during the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s and early ’80s on male-instigated violence, both individual and institutional.
“Perceived sexist patterns in children’s play clearly presented themselves as an area in which women could take some control,” she writes. England’s zero-tolerance policy, which was later lifted, reflected the spirit of that earlier era, according to Holland.
By age 4, most children have developed complex play incorporating multiple character roles and symbolic props, according to Deborah Leong, a professor of psychology at Metropolitan State College of Denver, and Elena Bodrova, principal researcher with Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.
Studies have linked play to both social and cognitive development. Through sophisticated play (including games like cops and robbers), children learn to delay gratification, prioritize, consider the perspectives of others, represent things symbolically, and control impulses, Leong and Bodrova wrote in the magazine Early Childhood Today in 2005.
Although it is difficult to make a direct connection between academics and play, there is also concern about a new gender gap as boys lag behind girls in many aspects of school all the way up to college enrollment. Evidence suggests this gap begins as soon as children enter classrooms.
A 2005 study by Walter Gilliam of the Yale University Child Study Center found that preschool boys were expelled more than 4.5 times as frequently as girls. The study suggests that challenging behavior is responsible, but does not offer additional insight.
But where does the urge to play fight and play shoot come from?
Diane Levin, an author and professor of education at Wheelock College in Massachusetts, became interested in what she describes as “war play” in the mid-1980s, when she began hearing from teachers that violent play had escalated within classrooms, and that bans no longer held back children clearly obsessed with playing war, police, superhero, or any other game involving violence.
From their research, Levin and her colleague Nancy Carlsson-Paige eventually linked the change with the Federal Communications Commission’s 1984 decision to roll back policies limiting advertising on children’s television. The decision opened the floodgates for programming designed to sell products to children, marketing violence to boys and prettiness to girls, Levin said. (Revisions to the decision during the Clinton administration did little to negate the problems created by deregulation, according to Levin.)
Perhaps magnifying the problem, psychologists think children can’t recognize persuasive intent behind advertising until they reach about 7 or 8 years old.
Levin and Carlsson-Paige’s research is detailed in “The War Play Dilemma: What Every Parent and Teacher Needs to Know” (Teacher’s College Press, Second Edition, 2005).
Thompson sees the media playing a much less influential role. He cites superheroes, a common theme in boy play, as an example.
“The media has provided boys with particular superheroes to believe in and to attach their fantasies to, but the impulse to be a superhero is innate,” Thompson said. “Boys are innately wired for dominance and that is going to affect the kinds of stories they like and the kind of games they play.”
The heroic themes of boy play have been around for a while, “at least since Homer,” Thompson said. “So I just see boy play as mythic battling.”
Co-opting the bad guys
Levin, meanwhile, finds the rise of play drawing on shows like “He-Man” or “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” alarming, because by simply mimicking the violence on these shows, children could learn harmful lessons. The dilemma with violent play is how to transfer it into something less harmful that still meets kids’ needs, she said.
Other educators have reached a similar conclusion.
For Katch, this meant working with students to establish rules – like no chopping off of body parts – to transform a killing game the children had invented, called Suicide, into something that gave kids a chance to listen to each other, express their own opinions, create compromises that would work for everyone and talk about controlling real aggression.
At the University of Maine’s Katherine M. Durst Child Development Learning Center in Orono, Logue and her colleagues launched a program in which they incorporated activities that involved imaginary “bad guys.”
“Day after day, the bad guys appeared. We redirected the play and it would always temporarily subside, but soon to reappear having been transformed into a new theme or new character names,” Logue and her colleagues wrote in a 2008 article published in the journal The Constructivist.
But after conversations and a letter-writing exercise intended to permanently banish these fictitious bad guys, the teachers reconsidered.
“We decided that having banished the bad guys diminished the running and noise level but, also, the pretend play and energy within the classroom. No more extravagant stories were being told and the group of boys who so passionately desired the bad guys were having more difficulty sustaining long periods of play,” they wrote.
So, the teachers decided to have students resume writing letters daily to these imaginary figures. Then teachers noticed something else: When the children’s play allowed for demonstrations of courage, power and high levels of activity, the children did not enact narratives involving fighting the imaginary bad guys.
The bad guys serve a purpose for the children, Logue said.
“They are also working on impulse control, they are trying really hard to be good, but it’s really hard to be good,” she said. “These bad guys give them a way to externalize that part of them that they are trying to conquer.”
- Fight, Fight, Fight: The History of Human Aggression
- Understanding the 10 Most Destructive Human Behaviors
- 10 Things Every Woman Should Know About a Man’s Brain
- Original Story: Battling the Boys: Educators Grapple with Violent Play
LiveScience.com chronicles the daily advances and innovations made in science and technology. We take on the misconceptions that often pop up around scientific discoveries and deliver short, provocative explanations with a certain wit and style. Check out our science videos, Trivia & Quizzes and Top 10s. Join our community to debate hot-button issues like stem cells, climate change and evolution. You can also sign up for free newsletters, register for RSS feeds and get cool gadgets at the LiveScience Store.
Our PaxBots have scoured the web far and wide and have found lots of great free games. Peace Heroes, Empathy, Bullying, Life Skills, Casual Games, and Environment are just some of the subjects the games are organized under. Finally one place to go to play great nonviolent games! www.peacegrooves.com