The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (AKA PETA) have been known to protest against the most ridiculous things in the most ridiculous ways. Some of the goals have actually been admirable attempts to better humanity, and I am also entirely against cruelty to animals. However, there have been plenty of times when you can’t help but ask “What the heck is PETA doing?” Nevertheless they continue their bizarre protests, and even video games aren’t safe from this headline-making animal rights organisation. With their recent attack on the only just announced Assassin’s Creed 4, I decided to compile a list of what are, in my opinion, the top 5 most ridiculous PETA vs Video Games protests.
Assassin’s Creed 4 – Whaling
The Assassin’s Creed series has been dedicated to being as historically accurate as possible so that the fiction can believably play along with the non-fiction. PETA apparently disapproves of historical accuracy in games as they were quick to attack Assassin’s Creed publisher Ubisoft after they announced that players will be able to hunt whales in the next entry of the series. The last few Assassin’s Creed games haven’t inspired me to go and murder important figures of our society, and I’m pretty sure playing Assassin’s Creed 4 won’t inspire me to invest in a boat and a harpoon.
Super Tanuki Skin 2D
This is a side-scrolling game where you’re a Tanuki attempting to get your skin back from Mario who is using it as a Tanooki suit. Not only was this protest illogical, but it was also made just over 20 years after the Tanooki suit first appeared (finger on the pulse, eh?). The actual accusation that Mario (A children’s video game icon) physically rips off an animal’s skin and puts it on is ridiculous. Apparently PETA can’t comprehend the concepts of magic and fantasy. Although a humorous parody, the point it was trying to make is lost in its lack of logic.
[Ed's Note: It is worth noting that the Tanuki is both a mythical Japanese ghost creature and a real animal better known as the Japanese Raccoon Dog. That said it is obvious that Mario's Tanooki suit is referencing the shape-shifting magical raccoon ghost and not the real life beasts which are closer to dogs than raccoons anyways.]
Super Tofu Boy
This is another example of a protest by PETA that I just don’t understand. This parody of Super Meat Boy, dubbed “Super Tofu Boy”, is a side-scrolling game which uses the same game mechanics as the original Super Meat Boy game. The key difference, however, is that instead of leaving a trail of blood behind him, Super Tofu Boy instead leaves behind a trail of tofu. I don’t actually understand why they were protesting against this in the first place: Super Meat Boy isn’t even an animal. It’s a square. Last time I checked squares aren’t animals. Sure: meat is something which comes from animals, but the thing that they are protesting against is so vague it loses its point quickly. In other examples of their protests PETA at least gives an anchorage to their sympathy, such as in their Mario protest they at least made a point about people actually skinning Tanukis. Here they just made a parody of a well-known indie game and then lost the plot from there.
Call of Duty – Dogs
I have to admit: this one is at least a bit creative. The protest began as a group of students from the Academy of Notre Dame campaigning against dog killing in Call of Duty: World at War. PETA soon got involved to support this group in their battle against Activision. However, instead of their typical fashion of creating a flash game to distort what the original game was trying to get across, they decided instead to send Activision a care basket including copies of Nintendogs. I’ve got to admit, I found this hilarious. Talk about fighting fire with fire! Responding to a game about murder and hatred with a game about love and caring, in my opinion, is absolute genius. Although the execution was unique compared to their other protests, this is another example of a game being historically accurate. Although you could argue that they glorify the use of dogs by making it a reward for killstreaks, it’s still accurate to the type of warfare used at the time. This protest at least has good intentions, but sadly lacks from the poor execution.
Pokémon: Black & Blue
Pokémon Black and White were the first games in the Pokémon series to address the supposed concept of enslaving innocent animals. The game then went on to develop this idea and show how the bad-guys had a point, but then prove them wrong as they demonstrate that the relationship between a Pokémon and his/her trainer is purely friendship. PETA noticed this, took the idea, pretended it was their idea and then took out the happy ending. So what you’re left with is a Unova region where people skin Pokémon and test various drugs on them, and your job is to venture through this world. Excited yet? For adventuring through this world you are rewarded with videos focusing on animal cruelty in the real world. As you venture forth on your quest everything begins to feel somewhat futile. Every step revealed more information concerning the cruelty to animals that takes place every day. There is, however, a happy ending, and yet you’re still left wondering “what was the point?” The game clearly wasn’t making a point about Pokémon as the concept has always been focused on the idea of friendship between the trainer and the Pocket Monster. Also there’s the obvious fact that Pokémon aren’t real. It’s clear that the only reason this game was made was to get attention. Then again, the same can be said for all of the games PETA has produced. Although these protests are indeed ridiculous, they do get attention from the public eye. So perhaps the ridiculousness of each of their protests was intentional.
Why do you think PETA makes these random attacks on Video Games? Could there be method within their madness as they bring to light important subjects which people don’t even think about and disguising them as petty pop-culture laced protests to gain the attention of society? Or are they just really, REALLY insane? Leave a comment below!
This article was written by Tolly Maggs, a student at Bath Spa University who is studying Creative Writing. His preferred console is the Xbox 360 and his gamertag is aparoon. If you want more from Tolly you can find his video-game based website here: http://www.underthegame.co.uk/