Animal rights organizations have a go at game companies for depicting the hunting of animals in their games.
It looks like PETA is at it again. Just the other day they said this about Assassins Creed 4:
“Whaling—that is, shooting whales with harpoons and leaving them to struggle for an hour or more before they die or are hacked apart while they are still alive—may seem like something out of the history books, but this bloody industry still goes on today in the face of international condemnation, and it’s disgraceful for any game to glorify it. PETA encourages video game companies to create games that celebrate animals—not games that promote hurting and killing them.”
Every year the Japanese whaling fleet heads into Australian* Antarctic waters to hunt whales. The good people on the Sea Shepherd chase after these huge vessels and put them in harms way (apparently this year the whalers used stun grenades against them and tried to crush the Sea Shepherd boats between their much larger vessels) in order to protect these helpless animals. I applaud them.
However, a game is not reality. Nor is a novel or TV show, or movie. These are fiction. And fiction has the right, perhaps even the responsibility, to tell its own story without censorship or coercion. PETA are simply barking up the wrong tree here. If Ubisoft wants to depict a hero or anti-hero on a whaler harpooning whales then so what?
In some ways PETA has fallen for the same arguments that opponents of video games have been pushing for some time now; that violent games promote violent behavior. A comment on the Game Politics post of this topic by MechaTama31 sums it up nicely:
“…promote hurting and killing them”? How many people are going to play AC4 and decide to take up a life of whaling? Or just harpoon a whale on their next cruise? My guess is, not many. Not many at all. Even if I bought the bullshit “playing games about x encourages people to go out and do x” argument, I think in this case the activity being “encouraged” is just not the kind of thing one decides to go off and do at the drop of a hat.
You just have to watch the news and read the papers to see the countless incidents of animal cruelty that occur each year. Shouldn’t PETA be concentrating on real-life incidents, and promoting the agendas that have a real-world effect?
I’m kinda wondering when we’ll see a PETA press release about how World of Warcraft promotes the killing of Owlbears and how this is wrong and must be stopped.
* The waters in question have been declared a whale sanctuary by the Australian government, but it appears the Japanese don’t recognize that declaration. Hence the sending of whalers and announcements of intentions to send naval vessels into the area to “protect” the whalers.