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Killing Animals in Games


JamesC
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Over the last few years I've become more disturbed by the trend of killing realistic looking wildlife in games. 

I first noticed it in Assassin's Creed III and I thought it made perfect sense in that context, but I avoided those elements of the game. I think it was probably more commonplace in RPGs before that. 

It's since been a stable of action games which feature realistic environments and a need to craft equipment. 

I generally avoid the animal killing parts of games. I just find it a bit distasteful.  

What I find particularly disturbing is when games offer achievements for finding and killing particularly rare animals. What's that all about? It speaks to a pretty dark area of human nature that if there's a rare creature about, it should be hunted and killed. 

 

Am I the only one to be disappointed in this trend? I know it's harmelees really and I'm probably being stupid.

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It depends on the context. If the hunting makes sense to the era of the game, like Red Dead Redemption 2, then I don’t really mind the mechanic.

 

That said, I’m resistant to hunting/killing bears, just because they’re my favourite animal. There my rule is unless they attack, I leave them alone. Be on your way, bear.

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I give no more thought to killing a digital representation of an animal than I do to a digital representation of an enemy soldier, an alien, a zombie or any of the multitude of things I shoot, stab, throttle or decapitate in my gaming. 

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I'd be down for a GTA style "wanted" system. Like you clip something accidentally whilst going down a road, and then moments later a stampede comes over the hills and you pretty much have to accept your fate.

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21 minutes ago, Harsin said:

I'd say it’s no more distasteful than violently murdering hundreds of people in realistic detail in games like those you’ve described. 

I think the key difference here is that, unless you're just running around in GTA murdering all and sundry like a psychopath, the people you're killing are usually trying to kill you, whereas a lot of the animals in games that you hunt are not.

 

I stopped hunting animals in Red Dead Redemption 2 because I found the animal reactions in that game too realistic, it was upsetting. 

 

 

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I’ve happily hunted animals in Breath of the Wild as you need to make food (though I expect you could manage on a veggie or pescatarian diet really).

 

Ive not once killed a fox though. They’re too cute and that little yelp they make is heartbreaking. 

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Having said that, I don’t think you can diminish those kinds of acts as merely pushing pixels around. Otherwise it’s like saying you could play any kind of game, where you have to <insert awful act of your choice here>.
 

There’s a human (as a player) context and reaction to any cultural artefact you experience. And even though they are just code, there is a difference between shooting a nazi zombie in the face, and shooting a grazing deer in the face. 

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I don't think there's anything wrong with being sensitive to the killing of digital animals, it's sweetly compassionate.

Personally I'm more in the @Mortis camp though and everything in a videogame context is fair game, it's totally separate from the same action in reality in my head. I'd rather people were getting their kicks hunting and fulfilling their base urges on 1's and 0's than causing actual harm.

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I've no problem with it in a game if the animals AI routine is programmed to attack me on site.  It's them or me as far as I'm concerned.

 

I do feel guilty if I accidently kill an animal if it's not programmed to attack me, though.

 

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1 minute ago, Naysonymous said:

Fuck em. They’ve not real. 

Maybe they are though? Maybe the animals in video games are avatars of real animals in another reality, like The Matrix. And when they die in our games, they die in real life. 

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The first time I killed a video game animal was in the newly opened Woking branch of Game in the early 90’s. They had a 386 PC set up and you could play the shareware version of Wolfenstien 3D on it. The first time a Nazi attack dog jumped at me, I shot it, and then was immediately violently sick into a bin under the table. 
 

A few years later, they opened the famous Prince Andrew alibi Pizza Express nearby. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

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It’s much more fun watching the animals doing the killing. Like in the recent Far Cry games where you can throw some meat towards some enemies and a honey badger, for example, comes charging for the meat and rips the enemies to shreds.

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1 hour ago, Thwomp said:

I bought Monster Hunter twice, and both times switched it off and never played it again right at the start, because it tried to make me kill a herbivore with her babies :unsure:

I stopped playing Far Cry Primal for similar reasons.

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It depends on the context for me, but I find the use of animals as effectively killable resource nodes to be really distasteful these days. I'd feel the same if a game asked me to kill 50 innocent humans to collect their hats or something.

 

Assassin's Creed Origins was one of the worst offenders for me. In previous games you could get away with just buying animal resources, but this was much more limited in Origins and you needed a lot of them to keep your equipment upgraded. I'm amazed there was any life left in Egypt after Bayek showed up. If nothing else, having to mindlessly slaughter so many of the things was an incredibly dull requirement to put in a game, which made it that much worse really.

 

If an animal is an actual threat in a game though, and not just minding its own business while I'm asked to go out of my way to kill it, then I don't really mind. I mean, I've played a lot of Tomb Raider games. :ph34r:

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It's not something I generally find enjoyable in games, largely because of hunting for fun and trophies being an actual real life thing that bellends do. At least most games frame it in the slightly more reasonable "hunting for resources and/or food" mould,* but when a game throws a "murder x herbivores so you can upgrade your inventory size" I tend to nope out of it.

 

If hunting for sport weren't a thing that still existed in real life I doubt it'd bother me near as much,** but it is what it is!

 

 

* actual trophy hunting games notwithstanding, obviously

 

** bar the fact that the inclusion of hunting usually means that crafting is likely a mechanic of the game, a feature I generally don't find enjoyable

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2 hours ago, JamesC said:

Over the last few years I've become more disturbed by the trend of killing realistic looking wildlife in games. 

I first noticed it in Assassin's Creed III and I thought it made perfect sense in that context, but I avoided those elements of the game. I think it was probably more commonplace in RPGs before that. 

It's since been a stable of action games which feature realistic environments and a need to craft equipment. 

I generally avoid the animal killing parts of games. I just find it a bit distasteful.  

What I find particularly disturbing is when games offer achievements for finding and killing particularly rare animals. What's that all about? It speaks to a pretty dark area of human nature that if there's a rare creature about, it should be hunted and killed. 

 

Am I the only one to be disappointed in this trend? I know it's harmelees really and I'm probably being stupid.

 

You're massively overthinking this and being oversensitive, it's not like you're going to play Duck Hunt and start ripping the heads off geese at the local park. How can you find it "particularly disturbing" to score an achievement for bagging some rare game, in a game? It's like that thread on MGSV where someone on here described Quiet's shower scene as "Rapey" - just completely out of proportion with the actual content.

 

I don't support hunting but I love the occasional hunting game - the stealth, planning, and luring aspect of hunting the animals is unique and deeply engrossing, as well as the exploration and nature elements. None of it makes me flinch but in real life I genuinely don't even kill flies or any living creatures. There's nothing "Dark" about it.

 

"All of God's creatures they all have to die" Nick Cave.

 

 

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I think labelling people having high levels of empathy as "oversensitive" is a bit off. Next it'll be "real men don't cry" or some other such bollocks. If you have a visceral reaction to harming something., even if it's not real, I think that's a positive thing. If you can separate that from the real world and not feel anything for it, then that's fine too, but don't shame people for being more sensitive souls.

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1 hour ago, jon_cybernet said:


It was brand new then, so the strong musk of gamer sweat and hormones hadn’t quite set in yet. 

 

 

Clearly a tribute to every time we've ever walked in one:

 

Spoiler

 

 

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2 hours ago, Twinbee said:

I’ve happily hunted animals in Breath of the Wild as you need to make food (though I expect you could manage on a veggie or pescatarian diet really).

 

Ive not once killed a fox though. They’re too cute and that little yelp they make is heartbreaking. 

 

You can be fully vegetarian in Breath of the Wild if you want. Some of the best meals didn't require killing anything if I remember correctly.

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