Left Behind Games Gets Apocalyptic with Bloggers

October 5, 2007 -

And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger... 

(Ezekiel 25:17  ...and, of course, Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction)

Numerous reports have surfaced on the web over the last few days regarding legal threats made against blog sites by Left Behind Games, publishers of a controversial real-time strategy title based upon the mega-selling Christian book series.

Gameology writes:
You've probably seen that we've posted some rather critical remarks on the game Left Behind: Eternal Forces... we're apparently on [CEO] Troy Lyndon's radar... On Monday, they escalated their response by sending me a nastygram threatening me with legal action unless I remove "false and misleading" comments from this website.

...The goal of this letter is apparently to intimidate me... On free-speech grounds, then, I feel obligated to stand by my comments and not be intimidated by a frivolous threat intended to chill legitimate criticism.

The better-able-to-defend-itself Daily Kos apparently received a letter as well. At the Public Theologian, Tim Simpson writes: 
I got a letter today from... [an] attorney representing Left Behind Games warning me that if I did not remove all of the false and misleading information about their product that I would face legal action.

The Left Behind folks, still reeling from their disastrous launch last year, are gearing up for the release of their expansion pack next month... As an offensive strategy, they are trying to intimidate the Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in the blogosphere who led the charge against this awful game...

...Christians should not sit silently while  corporate money-grubbers make a buck out of perverting the Christian faith.  Nor should we sit silently when a game is marketed to children promoting religious violence while American soldiers are dying overseas in the middle of a religious and ethnic civil war.

GP: Suing the blogosphere? Good luck. Such bully tactics are likely to bring the wrath of bloggers - and their readers - down up Left Behind Games.

Come to think if it, Left Behind has a history of watching the blogs. We've had a few comments placed here on GP by a company employee. I wonder if The Daily Show and Jack Thompson got nastygrams as well?

Comments

@ Erik
It more along the lines of a court system, and capital punishment. He is portraying god as the one who kills, and he is basing it off of what the bible says. But the bible says God sees and knows all, even the deepest secrets we hide. But god being the one who knew every aspect of every facet of every situation, and the thoughts of all those in mind, i find him to be very capable, to serve as judge jury and executioner. This based on bible statements, the same bible that Pandralisk is using to accuse god of evil. Kind of scary to think that people can be held accountable for things they think no one knows.

@ Pandralisk, if you want to seriously debate with me, my e-mail is rdeegvainl@yahoo.com. I say this so that I don't have to keep putting this on game politics.

All I can say is that after following the links to some of Thompson's mutterings, he has actually said something that makes sense.

There is no such thing as bad publicity.

If they hadn't started these threats, everybody would have completely forgotten about the game by now. So it is timely with the expansion pack coming out.

@chuck

dont waste your money i played the demo seriously go out and get command and conquer 3 (if you havent allready)

I've played this game and being a christian myself, there is nothing wrong with it besides the gameplay and graphics suck. The story and idea behind it is nothing to get your panties in a twist over. Its a perfectly fine game in that aspect, We need more games like this but with more edge and better technical aspects to it. Say something like this in the form of Half Life 2 gameplay and graphics would be great.

[...] Astute commenters at the GamePolitics blog note: [...]

Hey luneward,

that is a great question, and the answer is that without God cerating the universe, there would be nothing before the universe, and that includes no laws, no color, no time, no matter, and no energy. And the very fact that everything in the universe has these things in such precise constistancy, proves that a chaotic creation did not occur, but rather, a perfectly planned and perfectly designed universe did occur. And the requirements for a plan and a design are a planner and a designer.
And the requirements for a perfectly designed universe is God :)


with much love,
Cliff Haris

The designs is perfect and everything is bound by the laws set for them, except us humans who have free will. God gave us free will so we can come to Him freely because we want to, not because w have to. Just like you don't want to have to force a woman to marry you, you want her to marry you because she wants to. So while we can come to God freely, to their own demise people can also turn agaist God freely. And this is where all the evil in the world comes to in. Including those who pretend to be Christian then do horrendous things in the name of Jesus.


with much love,
Cliff Harris

Hmmmm... Thing is these days is that Video Games promote a reaction among those that play it, and that opinion is much easier to express, thanks to the Internet.

Look at things like WarCraft etc, there's massive groups both for and against Warcraft. Blizzard does the smart thing, they simply play out the averages, you can't please everyone all the time, normally, if you can weather the original opinion-storm, you will get a clearer idea of the saleability of your game.

Unfortunately, thanks to the actions of certain individuals, companies seem to be getting the idea that 'controversy = sales', it's worked so well for other companies, I certainly hope that is not what is going on here.

I've never played the game, but I've seen it on store shelves. But I guess it begs to be asked, So their game hasn't sold well so they decided to attack the people who spoke out against the game?

Wow, all I can say is brilliant. While I may be an atheist, I have studied theology and the Bible and I'm pretty sure I could find various things to quote this hypocrasy, but it's too early for that sort of thing.

The last thing to do trying to shut people up in the blogosphere is trying to sure them. That will only going to bite you in the ass.

*sue* them. I wish there was an EDIT button.

DoggeySpew: "The last thing to do trying to shut people up in the blogosphere is trying to sue them."

I didn't know there was an expansion pack, did you?

@sqlrob

Exactly...

The proper response to a letter like that is to request exactly which statements are "false or misleading" and why such statements are "false or misleading." Other than that, the letter is mere bullying. But they should respond to the letter as I just stated. It's the first step to fighting this type of stuff because at least you can go to court and say, "Well, we tried but they wouldn't respond to us."

that was a horrible game! i cant believe they are actually admitting to making it!

we all know where the law suit will end

So, what did these bloggers say? Unless they said, "by playing this game you are worshiping Satan and WILL be going to hell", I can see no valid reason for a lawsuit.

This smells like a corporation attempting to deny individuals their First Amendment rights. IF the government can't do it, there's no way I'm gonna let Ben & Jerry’s or McDonalds have that power.

Wait. Left Behind Games actually has enough money to hire lawyers? I thought they were losing money on their crappy game(s), if anything. I think this may be the real news story.

Oh boy...I just know Pandralisk will get in on this one. And yeah, terrible game and all that; nothing I can really add yet XD

@ Nekowolf

Shhh. He may hear you.

Before he posts let's go ahead and establish the belief that this is a CORPORATION which is taking such reprehensible actions. No matter what beliefs the CORPORATION may support, they are still a COMPANY and act and should be treated in such a way.

(Now, I wish I could capitalize the word corporation in my previous post. My kingdom for an edit button!)

Left Behind was a terrible idea and the expansion is a terrible idea as well.

The game is full of fail.

@nekowolf:

Yep...

Diner: Excuse me, waiter? What would you reccomend from this menu of comments on a christian related blog post?

Waiter: Ah, may I recommend the genralising, hateful bile, JT style, made by our head chef Pandralisk?

The Left Behind game was the kind of thing that looked like it was designed by Adolf Hitler. Replace and Nonbelievers with Jews and you've got the holocaust all over again.

And Pandralisk, shut the fuck up. Before you even start talking. Because with all your snobbery about religion, you appear to be a worse person for it.

So... they created a crappy game, got crappy reviews, are now releasing what will likely be a crappy expansion, so for press they're suing the blogosphere. Hope that works out for them...

LOL...from the DailyKOS article:

[i]The letter does not specify which information posted by the blogger or by his readers is deemed by Troy Lyndon and Left Behind Games, Inc., to be "false and misleading."


Nor does the letter specify that the office address used on Mr. Katz’s letterhead is located in a private house. But an online search on the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Recorder of Deeds site shows that the address -- 452 Brookhurst Ave. – is a private house owned by Linda Ashley. And records on file with the SEC show that Mr. Katz is Ms. Ashley’s son.


The threatening letter from Left Behind Games, Inc., issues from an attorney whose office is located in his mother’s house. The letter instructs bloggers to "contact my Administrator on this matter, Robilyn Lyndon at (951) 816-0901." That would be the home number of Robilyn J. Lyndon, a/k/a Mrs. Troy Lyndon, a/k/a the Executive Vice President of Left Behind Games, Inc. The letter is misleading: the attorney is referring bloggers not to his "Administrator," but back to his client.[/i]

Guys, the pre-emptive vitriol isn't really helping anyone. I'd respectfully request toning it down.

I'm forced to agree that there's no such thing as bad publicity when you don't have any to begin with. They have nowhere to go BUT up.

I take comfort in the knowledge of their inevitable failure.

It's funny, every game store I've been in has a number of copies on the shelf and every time I ask, it's still the launch shipment. In most cases, the number of copies sold you could count on one hand and still have space.

So they decide to release an expansion and try to force good reviews. Great plan there. Wonder if their lawyer got his license from the same place JBT got his. (ie out of a cracker jack box or equivalent)

I agree with Deus. Would seem a weak (and probably) cheap attempt at generating interest in what is likely to be a sucky title. The religious side to it adds a whole world or controversy and bile. Tell me again btw why the Left Behind folks wanted to be seperated from Jack they spew much the same.

What gets me at this is sent to a gamers blog, gamer blogs have gamers and gamers tend to look past the deeper "meaning" of a game (the meaning that JT would dredge out) and just play. So it seems doubtful gamers would bash the thing on theological terms... its just likely to be a repeat of weak game.

This reeks of "we want free publicity" to me. They have to know they can't shut people up like that and that even if they could, the backlash would catapult the story into the public eye.

-P

Surprised nobody has yet commented on the "Marketed to Children" comment.

How was this game marketed to children? It was barely marketed at all.

And now their marketing strategy seems to consists of pissing off web sites that didn't like the game, just so they might mention the product again.

And now their marketing strategy seems to consists of pissing off web sites that didn’t like the game, just so they might mention the product again.

Isn't that how any crummy product gets airtime?

Either that or they're going for the "whaaaa, interweb atheists are persecuting us pooooooor christians... again.... *buy the game*"
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

VaMinion Says:
This reeks of “we want free publicity” to me. They have to know they can’t shut people up like that and that even if they could, the backlash would catapult the story into the public eye.

This reeks of "let's not become the butt on the internet's jokes again thanks to our expansion pack." Terrible games (and even good ones) get ripped apart all the time on blogs, it's just the nature of them.
I'm of GameClucks thinking, when was this marketing directly to children?

I might buy it if it features passages from the Old Testament as read by Samuel L. Jackson.

Rather than spending the cabbage on lawyers to try to suppress the negative press around the game, why not spend it on developers and make a game that doesn't suck, which may be able to generate positive press? Not that it would really help, games based off good movies or books tend to be terrible, and the Left Behind series is, well, if a thousand monkeys were working on making Shakespeare, the series would be compiled from what they threw at each other when they got tired of typing.

Well, it is nice to see that the Scinecetologists and radical Christan groups are finally coming together.... Jesus or Aliens, savior be damned. They'll all sue your ass unless you play nice- not that they have to. I'm sure we'll all burn in hell for not embracing the hate.

They’ll all sue your ass unless you play nice- not that they have to.

They must be reading the Jack Thompson book on how to be a media success, sue anyone who says anything you don't like.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Attorney Katz' email is posted elsewhere. Here is the email I just sent to him:

Dear Mr. Katz,

Congratulations on your sudden worldwide fame, brought courtesy of Google and the many copies of your cease-and-desist letters that have been posted on various blogs online. The meteoric nature of your rise to fame is impressive. Even if I had all you had -- a legal career conducted out of my mother's Cheeto-and-hand-lotion scented basement, a penchant for writing buffoonish and legally frivolous threatening letters, and an association with a producer of mediocre eliminationist twaddle -- I cannot imagine leveraging it into the sort of prominence you have achieved. They used to say that fame was fleeting, but that was before Google -- what pride you must take in knowing that from now on, whenever anyone searches for your name, they will encounter a deluge of references to this episode! I understand that many of the nation's top firms are as we speak attempting to build a practice in the issuance of ineffectual, quasi-literate, and profoundly unconvincing SLAPP threats, and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before your phone starts to ring off the hook with offers from headhunters. Or that may be that State Bar investigator again, I'm not sure. That's what voice-mail is for.

Anyway, be proud that you have proved them all wrong -- the women who have laughed themselves into a trachea-scarring coughing fit in the course of rejecting your mawkish advances, the clients who have fired you upon discovering that your mastery of jurisprudence makes Lionel Hutz look like Oliver Wendell Holmes, the law school classmates who still bond over stories of your earnest but spasm-inducing classroom comments. This shows them! You Are Somebody.

Hooray for you!

If you actually sent that e-mail, that would make you a serious douchebag.

What are you hoping to gain from that? To prove yourself superior to a guy who's just doing his job (albeit not competently)?

Wow, I bet they don't realize they're admitting what a steaming pile it is by wanting to silence negative opinions.

They'd be setting a dangerous precedent if they won.

Honestly, the "just doing his job" thing doesn't move me. When lawyers use frivolous threats to try to suppress free speech, I'm in favor of ridiculing them.

Dude...he's hired by a firm to send out a letter. He's not seeking fame and he's not seeking assholeish e-mails from internet cooldudes belittling him. Posting about it and speaking your mind is fine, but actually e-mailing him is the act of the true asshole.

Really, I'm starting to think this is just a sad trend in our society. Someone says or does something you don't like, they sue. It's like saying you have the right to silence anyone who works against you. And let's be honest here: Does anyone really think (meaning the company) that much will come of this? There will always be dissent against certain thing in life. We can't very well shut down the whole internet.

-Mike Schwinger

Do they even realize that this is just going to generate more negative press, and re-itterate how bad their game was across the internets?

Since Pandralisk doesn't seem to have posted his usual Hatin', I'll do a post which I think accurately depicts what he would say.

"Do you all seriously think Left Behind Games are the only ones threatening blogs who say a word against them? Oh, no, no nonono. ALL Christians, or, should I say, bible-thumping bigots, spam blogs with cease-and-desists, even if the topic isn't even about Christians! And why? Oh, it's all because of their Bronze-age war-god, who EATS BABIES, and TORTURES PUPPIES.

Their God also secretly lives on earth, as a profoundly gay black man with a hot pink afro and baby blue facial hair named Stan. He lives in Downtown New York, is married to a dustbin called Jim-Bob, and plays STRIP POKER WITH THE DEVIL on saturday nights.

It's all proven in the bible. Really."

:D

The link in this blog post points to a diary on Daily Kos about a website getting a letter from the Left Behind folks....not Daily Kos getting one.

"Nor should we sit silently when a game is marketed to children promoting religious violence" That old line again? Sigh it's no wonder you are getting sued. Really I've never seen the game advertised at all. Perhaps these guys think the big M means "marketed to minors."

Now why doesn't Rockstar do this to news outlets that claim they're products have rape and encourage violence against police officers.

im surprised they wasted money making a expansion pack!

Okay then can I make a game where I have atheist, muslims, and jews killing all the christians or attempt to convert them?

Better yet lets have the atheist try to evolve all those that believe in a higher being. During an Apocalypse.

Muslims force people to make people take trips to Mecca.

For the Jews, well it would almost be the same game.

Maybe for the Buddhist we just have them burn everyone that doesnt reach enlightenment.

offended? I wonder why? maybe I should do a find and replace with the left behind description and see if people get offended.

@ F**ked up & Se7enwolf

Certainly both the actual game and the game you propose Are offensive. That isn't the point. The point is people are free to express themselves however they like; provided it doesn't physically harm someone else. If Se7enwolf enjoys the game, good for him. His playing it doesn't affect me whatsoever. Even though I find the concept offensive, I might have to get a demo and try it out just to see what the uproar is about. Hell, I enjoyed 'Plan Nine...' because it's a crappy stupid movie. Maybe I could enjoy the 'Left Behind...' on the same principle.

I'm Zach, the guy who posted the stuff at Gameology and got the emails for it. I just wanted to note that I don't think the email above from Ex-Fed helps. I appreciate that you're enthusiastic about this, but we don't need to call out Mr. Katz personally on this. Whatever role he had in deciding on or recommending this course of action, it's the organization on whose behalf he is acting that we should be concerned about.

And I'll just re-iterate the gist of my blog post, which is that while we (as bloggers, commenters, citizens, whatever) should rightly protest attempts to chill free speech, it is possible to break the law by saying or writing something false and damaging about someone or something. So while it's important to me to criticize games that have problems, it's more important to me that I be honest, which is why I'm asking for specific cases where they think I've been dishonest. I have to be willing to let them tell me where they think I'm mistaken if I expect them to listen to the problems I have with the game. And, for the record, the problems I have are its representations of minorities and women. Based on what I've played, I can't say truthfully that I think it promotes a "kill or convert" message, at least not as overtly as some have been describing it. Someone probably could make that argument, but it's not what I'm arguing.

Also, Ron Brynaert is correct that as far as we know, Daily Kos has not received a letter. Someone there just diaryed about the phenomenon of other sites getting the letter. Kotaku, for example, got it seven times.

zach

Well just saying if ur going to put out something and then be offended if something similar comes along. I can call you a hypocrite.

It just blows my mind every time I hear people putting out offensive content when they get a similar offensive content thrown back at them. Things just start spiraling down from there.

there is that old quote from the bible and said in different ways in practically every religion. "do unto others as other do unto you." So what goes around comes around and if ur ready to offend some people be ready to be offend yourself.

And well he might enjoy the game. like how some might enjoy mine.
 
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Sleaker@EZK - It's not a surprise that articles came out. The surprise is when journalists fail to disclose relationships as they write about the trends, and the content by which the articles contain. Perhaps a large portion was misinterpreted, but isn't that10/02/2014 - 9:28am
prh99It definitely prolonged it, we wouldn't be hearing about Intel if not for Gamers are over/dead. Just additional wood for the fire.10/02/2014 - 9:23am
E. Zachary KnightConster, which sites associated "ALL" gamers with the harassment?10/02/2014 - 9:22am
E. Zachary KnightIs it really a surprise that 15 news sites responed to a very loud and very public shaming campaign against a woman critic of sexism and a woman being attacked unjustly because of the words of an ex-boyfriend.10/02/2014 - 9:19am
ConsterSo a bunch of assholes decided to harass people, sites wrote negative articles associating all gamers with said assholes, and people got so angry about the articles they decided to associate themselves with said assholes?10/02/2014 - 9:18am
Sleaker@EZK - I think you're attributing too much there. I think the reality is actually, if 15 news sites didn't alll write coincidentally 'gamers are dead' articles, in response to a very small number of harassment cases, we wouldn't be here.10/02/2014 - 9:10am
E. Zachary KnightSo what you are saying is that gamergate is a reflexive and defensive reaction to jerks and douchebags being told off?10/02/2014 - 9:06am
Sleaker@prh99 - the ZQ stuff was a catalyst, but GG didn't explode until the Gamers are dead articles popped up everywhere, see article 3 in the link I posted.10/02/2014 - 9:04am
prh99The articles by Leigh Alexander and others were in response to what happened to Anita and Quinn and this toxic subset of gamers. 10/02/2014 - 9:02am
E. Zachary KnightSleaker, My timeline puts events in the order that prh99 just laid out. Had Quinn's ex-boyfriend not been an incredible douchebag, we might not be where we are.10/02/2014 - 9:00am
prh99The blog post by Quinn's exboyfriend suggesting she slept with journalists to get favorable reviews was the impetus for #gamergate.10/02/2014 - 8:54am
SleakerTechRaptor seems to do a decent job of breaking down things in it's currently 6-part series: http://techraptor.net/2014/09/23/good-morning-orthodoxy-1/ - and why atleast for him, the whole Media-thing is offensive.10/02/2014 - 8:53am
SleakerSo from all of the articles I've read that give timelines and show tag trends, there's nothing to support GG being about AS or Quinn. These were a minority of people harassing.. The large portion of GG started when the 'Gamers are dead' articles started.10/02/2014 - 8:45am
prh99Btw apparently they've gone as far as creating a GitHub for this Operation Disrespectful Nod. http://bit.ly/1qsbWcq10/02/2014 - 8:44am
Sleakerthey don't consider the issue. This is the consumeristic nature of a market.10/02/2014 - 8:41am
prh99Attacking their integrity and now getting advertisers to pull their ads from those sites.10/02/2014 - 8:40am
Sleaker@EZK - Telling a company you disagree with the nature of a news sites methodology and feel it negatively impacts the ad-running company as a supporter of said articles is not censorship. It's voicing your opinion that you will vote with your wallet if10/02/2014 - 8:38am
prh99I don't think they have any interested in debate. They scared Anita and Quinn with threats of violence, now they are going to try and damage organizations who called them their behavior.10/02/2014 - 8:36am
E. Zachary KnightWhat I can't understand is why gamergate supporters feel the need to silence their critics. Why can't they simply fight free speech with free speech.10/02/2014 - 8:23am
E. Zachary KnightSo what I am saying is that since gamergate failed to force Gamasutra to retract their editorial directly, they are now going the starvation route.10/02/2014 - 8:22am
 

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