The Christian video game company behind the popular and controversial "Left Behind" games is testing new waters by putting out three of their PC games in about 100 Walmart stores in two of Texas' biggest markets – Dallas and Houston.
Over the next ten weeks, Inspired Media Entertainment – the business name for Left Behind Games Inc. – will be sending out letters of appeal to thousands of Texas-based church pastors to build momentum for products they believe will strike a chord in America.
"The U.S. market for Christian video games could reach $648 Million within the next five years based upon just 3 percent of video game sales being in the Christian segment," said Inspired Media CEO Troy Lyndon based upon predictions on the sale of video game software.
And according Inspired Media, the demographics in Texas make the state an ideal testing ground for its PC games. Aside from having the most number of evangelical Protestants in the nation (over five million), Texas is also home to the second largest population of mainline Protestants (over 1.7 million) and the third largest population of Catholics (2 million). In total, there are over 23,000 churches.
"There are almost 25 million residents in Texas, and Christians represent the greater portion of the 49 percent who claim that they attend church or synagogue once a week," Inspired Media noted.
Though Inspired Media currently publishes six games, the company will be piloting only three titles during its campaign in Texas, including the newest "Left Behind" and "Charlie Church Mouse" PC video games.
"Left Behind," based upon the popular novel series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, had garnered significant controversy when the original game, "Eternal Forces," was released in 2007.
Though some prominent pro-family groups expressed their support for the game and the game itself had received a "Teen" rating, some critics insisted that the game fosters religious intolerance and violence against different faiths.
The game, like the novels, is set in the time after the rapture, when Christians ascend to heaven and Earth's remaining population is faced with a choice of joining or combating the Antichrist. In the real-time strategy game, players control the Tribulation Force as they attempt to save New Yorkers from the Global Peacekeepers controlled by the Antichrist.
Although there is no dismemberment or graphic bloodshed, some Christians had argued that the game has an element of violence that counters teachings of the Bible. But executives at Left Behind Games insisted that they're faithful to Scriptures and that those "throwing stones … literally have never played the game."
"[I]t is a game with positive values; there is no blood, no profanity, no gratuitous violence, and no inappropriate content," Lyndon had said.
The Left Behind game that hit the shelves of Walmarts in Dallas and Houston Monday is the sequel to the original game.
The other games that Inspired Media has created include a puzzle game for children, teens and adults, and educational learning games for children from age 3 to 8.