"One of the greatest challenges facing civilization in the 21st century is for human beings to learn to speak about their deepest personal concerns--about ethics, spiritual experience and the inevitability of human suffering--in ways that are not flagrantly irrational. Nothing stands in the way of this project more than the respect we accord religious faith. Incompatible religious doctrines have balkanized our world into separate moral communities--Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc.--and these divisions have become a continuous source of human conflict. Indeed, religion is as much a living spring of violence today as it was at any time in the past."
-Sam Harris, An Atheist Manifesto
I was actually going to write to Orcinus to elicit his opinion on the upcoming Left Behind game, but lo and behold, he has already taken it on.
The Left Behind game is interesting because it is such overt propaganda. This bothers me, even though I'll probably play the game anyway.
The reason I see a substantial difference between a game like this and, say, GTA is that to my knowledge Rockstar has not yet come out in favor of carjackings and homicide.
The Left Behind series, on the other hand, is part of a greater movement to actually change the political and social situation in America (and the world, no doubt) by appealing to a violent, evangelical millenarianism. It is a backwards movement that is anti-woman, repressive, fundamentalist and fascist.
That said, I doubt this game will draw in lots of new followers, if any. I even doubt that it will affect the children already being indoctrinated by this eschatonic bullshit. Why? Because there are other forces at work that go hand in hand with the novels, movies and videogames - social forces that are so much stronger than the media. This kind of propaganda can be a way to bolster a mindset, but without other factors - indoctrination by parents, churches, social groups - it ends up being just a game (not to denigrate that term).
And like so many forms of propaganda, it is not so much a seed to grow a mental state as it is a reflection of someone's mental reality. People believe in an oncoming conflict, even if they have to bring it about themselves, and what they produce will reflect that internal state.
I have yet to encounter any hate-mongering public figures who developed their hatred and racism from videogaming. Sure, we'll start to see more and more bigotry in games, because games are now a part of our greater cultural landscape. But those same bigots will still print up pamphlets, write blogs, hold recruitment rallies and use every tool available. This is how propagandists work. The only way to stop them is to ban the use of every single medium. Y'know, revoke that freedom of expression that Dick Cheney finds so irksome.
As for the Left Behind game somehow training Christian warriors . . . I'll go up against the guy who clicked a mouse all day versus the guy who went to some compound up in Michigan and shot an AR-15 all day.