Monday, June 05, 2006

In The Name Of God

Is murder acceptable if it is done in the name of God? History teaches us that it is, even if that fact is quite wrong. Murder is, as we are taught, wrong in any sense. When it comes to God, justice, and war is where the lines start to blur. The video game industry has long been condemned as a haven for violent tendencies buried within a child’s psyche. All too often video games, and any other mass-produced media, are blamed as the cause of some kid getting his hands on a gun and senselessly killing people. The parents are never blamed. Society is never blamed. At a time where parents pay attention to their children in the least of all generations, we as a society push the blame for violence onto anything that slightly resembles a plausible scapegoat, and video games are now having their turn in the spotlight.

But what if a video game, which has the sole purpose of killing those who do not believe in God, were to be mass produced? Would this game, designed in the same vein as GTA 3, be lobbied against by the powers of righteousness that be? You would assume so, as no one in politics wants kids to get their hands on video games, since they are the cause of all this violence and mayhem and are therefore objects of evil. Well, that’s where you’re wrong. It appears that, once again, when Christianity is involved, all bets are off. All wrongs are righted, and all levels of body count are acceptable if it helps save those who do not walk with God.

The video game in question is Left Behind: Eternal Forces, and if you can believe it, the purpose of the game is to convert those who have not embraced Christianity. And if they disagree with you? Well, then you pull out your Mac-10 and shoot them in their unholy face. That is the game; you save people, or you kill them for their beliefs. Sound familiar? Go read an American History text book and you’ll figure it out.

It never ceases to amaze me that so many have died in the name of God. Now I will admit, in this context we are speaking only of pixels killing pixels, so no one is really dying. But I wonder, if a child played this game and then proceeded to murder all non-Christians in his school, would the game receive the same social stigma of GTA 3? Would those who opposed video games so strongly (like Jack Thompson for example) suddenly turn around and say that this is acceptable because it is in the name of God? How can anyone, religious extremist specifically, condone violence on such a grand scale?

Would the blame of such an act shift towards society, as if to say the students deserved to die because they had a difference of opinion? Would they be blamed for their own murder? Or would the church back peddle and say that the game was meant for entertainment purposes only and no one with a sane mind would actually attempt to replicate what they do in the game. If so, this would pose the threat of being labeled a hypocrite. As the Republican Party seems to be the primary enemy of video games, and fun in general, they would put themselves in a corner by supporting a violent video game that is similar to the games they have been condemning.

In the realm of video games, violence has always been a core issue. The industry seems to be doing all that it can to help keep mature games out of the hands of kids. The rating system is only as effective as the retailers who enforce it. The distributor puts the rating on the game, the store sells it to the appropriate age demographic, and kids don’t get their hands on GTA 4: Killing For Fun. The missing link in this chain of events is the parent. It is the parent’s job to determine what games they will allow in their household. Yes parents, you ARE responsible for your kid’s actions until they are 18. If you don’t like it, don’t have any fucking kids. Where the parents fail is enforcing the rules of the house. If my child is seven years old and brings home a video game rated for a fourteen year old, it is my decision to let them play that game. Whatever consequences develop from them playing that game at such a young age are mine, and mine alone.

Left Behind: Eternal Forces seems to be getting little media attention and that may be due to it not having a release date yet. Trust me, it will get more attention. The God Factor tends to change everything, and suddenly people start having opinions. If one is to condemn violent video games, one could hardly support this game. However, quite the opposite seems more plausible this time around. This video game actually seems to be endorsed by the conservative demographic. Will this change their attitude towards other violent video games that are not religious based? Probably not.

The final test of the impact this game will have will be when a kid kills someone and claims the game made him to it. Society has no problem pointing the finger at GTA 3 or any other game with that level of content, but I wonder what their reaction to this would be. The question still remains whether or not killing in the name of God is acceptable, if not condoned, and my guess is the jury’s going to be out on this one for quite a long time. Meanwhile, I guess we’re stuck with violent video games being wrong until God says their right.

Somebody help me tame this animal I have become

In writing this essay, I gathered information from the following sources:

1 comment:

Layman said...

The report is very inaccurate, especially to the extent you relied on Talk2Action. The game does not have the player try to establish a theocracy or kill people who don’t convert. In fact, you are penalized for killing people, even though Christian forces are fighting against the anti-Christ’s army.

See more about the nature of the game, with quotes from secular reviewers who have actually played it: