If last month's report on computer games on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict wasn't sufficiently weird for you, then this article entitled "Jews in the Virtual Cross-Hairs" from the current Jewish Week might satisfy:
Based on the wildly popular Evangelical “Left Behind” book series, which details the struggle between good and evil once the Rapture occurs and true believers in Christ are whisked away to heaven, the game is due out early next month and poised, some industry analysts say, to sell hundreds of thousands of copies. As members of the Tribulation Force, the game’s protagonists, the player must roam the streets of a carefully rendered Manhattan and interact with passers-by, many of whom come equipped with “life stories” stressing their biography and spiritual state.
New York being New York, a large number of these computer-generated characters are Jewish. One of the game’s major goals is to convert as many of these characters, winning them over to the side of good. Although the game doesn’t mention Christ or Christianity specifically ... [it] offers, as a reward for completing each level, the opportunity to be directed to a Christian ministry’s Web site.
Being the computer geek that I am, of course I had to see how the game is described on Gamespot, a major site for reviews and insider previews of computer games. You can get a pretty good feel for the vibe of the game from the offical trailers, but their preview notes some unusual features of the game, such as:
- "Like many real-time strategy games, Eternal Forces features a variety of resources that you need to accumulate to build units. One of these resources is your spiritual rating, which measures how good or evil you are. If your troops kill civilians and innocents, your spiritual rating drops, and if it drops too much, you may see your units defect (each unit has his or her own spiritual rating), and if drops too far, demons will show up."
- "The game will feature biblical facts between levels, accompanied by tracks from Christian rock groups" (with in-game links to let players buy songs from iTunes).
- "While you will play the single-player campaign from the perspective of the good guys, the multiplayer will let you play as either side. This will raise some eyebrows among some of the game's audience, but Left Behind Games felt it was important to represent both sides in the game."
The note that this is a "game that most people will have an opinion about, even if they never play it" is borne out by the user comments, which make the Ha'aretz discussion groups look tame (see the next article, below). The game is due to ship in mid-November. PS: I love the Gamespot mention that the game includes "Biblical facts."