Megabits' enlightened gaming guru and resident grinch, Cursor, considers whether animals get a bit of a rough deal in video games and why there seems to be so little criticism for their treatment...
I'm no animal lover. There, I confess. It's out there. I can't stand the little critters. Dirty, noisy creatures that require constant attention and feeding (no, pet lovers, they're not like children at all - at least they can be trained to wash the car or do the dishes... and they eventually leave home!). Cats are a little more bearable than dogs perhaps but pets and animals really grind my gears. Nevertheless, despite my mean streak, I can't help but think animals get a bit of a hard time in the world of video gaming.
There's loads of criticism in gaming about the overuse of guns, grenades and grisly death sequences among human characters - but an often overlooked area is the amount of nastiness bestowed on Mother Nature's furry creatures.
Take the recent mega-game Far Cry 3 as an example. I know it's all about survival of the fittest but you're positively encouraged to track, hunt and subsequently skin animals that are doing nothing but wandering around their own environment. What did the innocent-looking Tapir ever do to you? Why hack that cute little pig to death when it was just minding its own business? And what about those poor old rabid dogs (oh, wait. That's fair enough, I guess).
Like everything else in this greedy world, it's all about money - sometimes enjoyment - but largely money. Hunting and skinning creatures proves a very effective mechanic for earning extra cash to upgrade your inventory. There are plenty of other games that have done the same, so I'm not picking on Jason and his kidnapped chums. I'm just saying.
Rockstar's epic Red Dead Redemption was equally keen to get you to track and murder ickle creatures. Collect enough of their pelts, or find the really rare creatures (again, morally wrong) and you'd even boost your achievement scores. So why don't all those animal cruelty organisations harp on about this? If pretending to shoot someone in the head with an AK47 in Call of Duty is enough to stir the emotions of the politicians, then why not all this animal murder?
I know it's not really the same thing - I'm just putting this out there to gauge opinion... I personally think it a bit rich to place too much on the evil of gaming, who or whatever the virtual victims. Are there really people out there idiotic enough to carry out some deranged act of violence because they've seen it on the small screen? Movies do the same thing but there's hardly the same furore every time a video nasty is wheeled out, is there? I digress.
Modern Warfare 3 encourages you to dispatch bitey dogs. Sleeping Dogs has its cock fighting - merging animal cruelty with gambling. Tsk. And what of Peter Molyneux and his Fable series? Fable II even awards an achievement for kicking a chicken, for goodness sake. However, it is only worth a "poultry" 5G (he he).