Here's a game I would not like to see under the tree (if I had one) and which I hope doesn't sell well. It's the Left Behind game. Basic plot -- those who have been saved are raptured away to Heaven and the remaining people -- non-believers and the forces of Satan -- indulge in a free-for-all orgy of violence and destruction. It's based upon the hugely popular Left Behind book series.
Clive Thompson from Wired neatly sums up my feelings about this game and the Left Behind series, "the ultimate, and gorgeous, irony of this game is that fans of the Left Behind franchise are apparently more worried about simulated violence in video games than about believing an actual prophecy of the future — endorsed by their spiritual leaders — in which their friendly Jewish, Islamic and atheist neighbors have their tongues dissolved in screaming agony by a fire-eyed Jesus." Or worse.
The game's creators are defending it by pointing out that you can win the game without killing anyone. Of course, if you read the promo material, that's not the impression you'd get: "Wage a war of apocalyptic proportions in LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces. (...) Join the ultimate fight of Good against Evil, commanding Tribulation Forces or the Global Community Peacekeepers, and uncover the truth about the worldwide disappearances!" and "Conduct physical & spiritual warfare : using the power of prayer to strengthen your troops in combat and wield modern military weaponry throughout the game world." and yet again, " Command your forces through intense battles across a breathtaking, authentic depiction of New York City ."
Doesn't sound very peaceful to me. Clearly the emphasis is on fighting -- Christians fighting and killing non-Christians.
Can you imagine the reaction if a Muslim company came up with something similar -- a game glorifying Muslims killing non-Muslims? The Final Jihad. Join the ulitmate fight of Good and Evil, commanding the Armies of Allah against the forces of the Great Satan... conduct physical and spiritual jihad, use the power of prayer to strengthen your troops in combat and wield modern military weaponry against the disbelievers..." Uh-huh, I can almost hear the outraged
And rightfully so. Glorying in warfare is not part of any religion. In Islam, war is seen as a distasteful burden which at times may be necessary, when the global community is confronted with excessive injustice and oppression. In Christianity, at least according to many of my Christian friends, warfare is simply not an option. Turn the other cheek, and all.
Worse, glorying in killing images of people who are our neighbors, our co-workers, who go to school with our children (whether it be Christians or Muslims who glory in it) is dangerous and wrong. It teaches us to hate, to value people less based on their religion (or lack there of), fracturing our communities, or world, along faith lines. For most of us, our communities are no longer inuslar -- we cannot depend upon interacting only with people who look, think, and feel exactly as we do. Under that circumstance, we'd do well to foster mutual respect and tolerance, rather than bloodshed and hatred that all too closely resembles various hot spots around the globe.