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What Could The Rise Of Animal Cruelty In Games Mean?

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Animal welfare, like many things, is a divisive issue. Society is brimming with people standing on both sides of the argument, with some holding the opinion that animals exist solely for our own use, and some holding the contrasting perspective that showing compassion and love towards our fellow earthlings is essential to the wider intellectual growth and development of our own species.

Personally, I’m a liberal ‘not fun at parties’ vegan, so the argument category that I fit into is unsurprisingly the latter. Being passionate about both games and animal welfare, the gradual increase of themes relating to animal cruelty within modern mainstream games intrigues me deeply, and it seems to be debated on a rare basis. Given how heavily animal exploitation is ingrained into our society, it seems logical that analysis and discussions of/on this subject should be a more frequent occurrence. Whatever side of the animal welfare fence you may stand on, from steak devourer to plant fanatic, from gun toting hunter to kitten loving cuddler, there’s never a wrong time to become offended at somebody else’s opinion.

My first experience of noticing animal cruelty within a mainstream game was in 2012’s Assassin’s Creed III. As I trekked through the American civil war themed time period, as the bland and monotone assassin Connor, I contemplated just how much I would rather be playing Assassin’s Creed II, an infinitely superior game. My train of thought was abruptly shattered however, as Assassin’s Creed III suddenly instructed me on the benefits of butchering hares, deers and bears in order to extract their skin and fur. My bubble of thought at the time was something akin to “Assassins’s Creed III kind of sucks”, followed by “What?! An animal?! Oh, are we doing this now in games?!”. Of course, I complied, because I aspired to perform a Scrooge McDuck-esque dive into my virtual Assassin’s Creed III dollars. Regardless, it startled me at first, and some adjusting to the concept of carrying out acts of animal cruelty within games was needed for me.

If 1984’s Duck Hunt can show us anything, it’s that there has always been a certain demand for the hunting of animals to be featured in games. It makes sense, given that journeying outside to shoot a living being until it is dead has long been a popular pastime for many individuals. As said individuals stand over the corpse of a bullet-riddled deer, their one inch manhood stiff with joy from the sensation of power that they so desperately relish from effortlessly pulling a trigger and extracting the life from an innocent creature, one must wonder why murdering has become their hobby of preference over such things as listening to music, going shopping with their friends, or reading articles on Goomba Stomp?

Naturally, if the surge in popularity of virtual hunting had torn away many real life hunters from indulgence in their shooty shooty bang bang time, then I would be embracing it with open arms. However, this is unsurprisingly not the case, since activities carried out within a game rarely, if ever, equate to the raw sensation of performing it in the non-polygonal dimension. For this reason, the presence of animal cruelty (and in certain cases, the normalization of animal cruelty) within games achieves little more than incorporating a negative aspect of our society into a phenomenally popular form of entertainment.

“But wait, games have you killing hordes of humans in such frequent cases. Why are you so biased towards animals?”. This is a natural argument in response to my obnoxious ramblings, and in truth, it is one with much merit. Unsurprisingly, we are extremely accustomed to the death of humans within games, from Mortal Kombat to Grand Theft Auto, and from Call Of Duty to a franchise quite literally flaunting the name Destroy All Humans!.

The presence of antagonists/opponents in the forms of humans is one that occurs with an overwhelmingly higher frequency than the presence of animals in games, and as a result it is treated with significantly more tolerance. Personally, I am for the argument that anything existing within a game, including animal cruelty, rarely equates to endorsement of said activity outside of the game world. With this being said, however, one must ask how far games are willing to push the ‘realistic reflection of society’ factor.

Is the presence of animal cruelty, including cruelty one can inflict upon domesticated cats and dogs in Grand Theft Auto V, simply a sign of how far down the rabbit hole of animal exploitation society has tumbled? Is a game as magnificent as The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild attempting to trivialize the hunting of animals, providing a vibrant and cel-shaded Link the ability to harvest the spoils of foxes, wolves and bees via murdering them? If all manner of mainstream games flaunt some form of animal cruelty, is it perhaps an upsetting reminder of just how reluctant society is to progress beyond the widespread killing of animals for food, fun and fur?

As mentioned prior, activities in games rarely equate to real life intent, and I firmly believe that violence in games plays no part in violent atrocities carried out in society (the solution to such a problem, in America at least, lies in both support for those struggling with their mental well being, and gun control). However, upon analysis, there can be no denying that fascinating social commentary can be extracted from acts of animal cruelty being adapted into all manner of modern mainstream games, from Far Cry 3 to Tomb Raider.

This article is not intended to preach at or offend those with a differing opinion. Instead, it is intended to raise awareness and/or open a debate of a controversial subject. Are we right to view the mass murder of animal kind, our fellow earthlings, as normal? What could the rise of animal cruelty in games mean specifically about the vast majority of society’s opinions on said issue? Can our own personal satisfaction when we bite into a cheese burger or wear a coat of fur be justified when considering the animals that had to endure a life of torture, pain, and a finale of slaughter, simply for Ronald McDonald to scream down your throat “I’M LOVING IT!”? Is our senseless cruelty towards animals, with the reward of our own personal food or clothing preferences, a natural occurrence within nature, or a gross example of human selfishness? Is an English person obnoxiously asking a horde of questions about animals really considered ‘good journalism’? When all is said and done however, one statement on the subject of animal welfare rings true for us all: we all totally cry when Mufasa dies.

I have spent my life in England finding entertainment in both video games and music. Whilst not indulging in the latter, I invest my time in playing all manner of video games, and as of 2017, writing about all manner of video games.Email: harrymorrisharrymorris@yahoo.com

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. John Cal McCormick

    January 24, 2018 at 4:04 am

    I’ve never thought of this much on a wider scale, but on a personal level, I tend not to kill animals at all in video games, even when killing them is useful for loot etc.

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Watch the Trailer for ‘The Mandalorian’ the First Live-Action ‘Star Wars’ Series

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Thanks to the arrival of the D23 Expo, Disney has revealed the first trailer for its long-awaited Star Wars original series, The Mandalorian.

Created by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), the series is set after the events of Return of the Jedi and follows Pedro Pascal as a mysterious, gun-slinging Mandalorian bounty hunter who navigates the seedier side of the Star Wars universe.

Along with Pedro Pascal, The Mandalorian stars Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Carl Weathers, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog, and Taika Waititi. The first season of episodes will be directed by filmmakers like Dave Filoni, Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa, and Deborah Chow.

the mandalorian trailer

Here’s the official description of The Mandalorian:

After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

The Mandalorian begins streaming on Disney+ on November 12, 2019.

Check out The Mandalorian trailer below.

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Soundtrack Gets a Vinyl Release

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While we don’t publish music news or music reviews here at Goomba Stomp, we are huge fans of vinyl and since we cover film, we figured this announcement would interest some of our readers.

Back in 2017, Jordan Peele’s Get Out topped our list of the best films of 2017 and while the year isn’t yet over, there’s a good chance his follow-up Us, will land somewhere on our best of the year list as well. There are many reasons why we love Peele’s ambitious sophomore film including for the suspense, cinematography, performances, and direction, but one thing that doesn’t get enough praise is the soundtrack by Michael Abels. And if you like us, love the original score, you’re going to love this bit of news.

After giving his Get Out soundtrack a vinyl release last year, Jordan Peele is now doing the same for the soundtrack to Us.

WaxWork Records announced the news earlier today and if you’re planning on buying a copy, you don’t have to wait since it is now available to purchase through the label’s website.

The soundtrack, which received a digital release earlier this year, features composer Michael Abels’ score, in addition to songs from Janelle Monáe, Minnie Ripperton and the “Tethered Mix” of Luniz’s “I Got 5 on It” that appeared in the film’s first trailer. The album artwork was created by illustrator Edward Kinsella and features an interactive die-cut mirror board back cover, a heavyweight art print and an exclusive essay from UCLA Professor, scholar, and activist Shana L. Redmond Ph.D.

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Trailer for the Twisted Dark Comedy thriller ‘Villains’

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Alter has released the first poster and the official trailer for Villains, the upcoming dark comedy thriller which stars Bill Skarsgård (IT) and Maika Monroe (It Follows) as a couple who rob a gas station and scores enough cash to start a new life in Florida. Unfortunately for them, their getaway plans turn upside down and the young couple end up stumbling on much more than they bargained for.

Villains hits theaters on September 20th and was written and directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. In addition to Skarsgard and Monroe, the movie also stars Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick. It’s co-produced by Bron Studios, Star Thrower Entertainment, Creative Wealth Media Finance, and The Realm Films. You can watch the trailer for Villains below.

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Beanie Babies: The Collectables with Heart

Toys We Love Spotlight

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For our Toys We Love Spotlight, I’m looking at one of my personal favourites: Beanie Babies. I had collected so many of these growing up, and households worldwide in the 90s and early 2000s were sure to have at least one Beanie Baby in their possession (was it even the 90s if they didn’t?). These plushie companions were cute, cuddly, and collectable, so it’s not a surprise that the Beanie Babies craze swept the globe, forcing parents and toy collectors everywhere to dig into their wallets.


Beanie Babies had a few aspects to them that made them stand out from your average plushie. Firstly, they did not have as much stuffing as most soft toys. Whilst some thought that this made them look cheap, it also made them light, posable, and gave them a realistic feel and look. The bear Beanie Babies were particularly good to pose, and this set them apart from run-of-the-mill teddy bears. Another element that made Beanie Babies more unique was their special tag. Each toy had a tag attached which had the toy’s name, date of birth, and a quotation etched inside. The former was something that could have been a risky choice, as although it wasn’t completely taking away the child’s choice of name — there was nothing stopping them from just calling their Beanie whatever they wanted — a pre-selected name can be difficult to sell, as kids can often take great pride and pleasure in naming their toys.

It was a great success, however, and worked as a nice finishing touch for the Beanie Babies, adding a dash of personality and flair (something much needed in the often critically over-saturated soft toy market), as well as making each Beanie Baby feel like their own creature with their own little stories. Adding to that was the wide variety of animals that were available, such as Tiny the Chihuahua, Pegasus the Unicorn or Swampy the Alligator. This means that the desires of each individual child or enthusiastic collector could be catered to (I myself favoured the dogs and bears).

The puppies were my Beanie Baby of choice. They were all such good boys and girls.

The Beanie Babies also had their own way of tackling difficult issues in society, showing them to kids through the guise of a soft toy. I’ll give you an example through my own experience: I had a Beanie Baby that (as odd as it may sound) gave me more of an understanding of the horrors of September 11th. Weird, right? Allow me to explain. I was only just nine years old on that now-historical day when the twin towers in New York were attacked and so many innocent people lost their lives. I had come home from school (it was afternoon time here in the UK when it happened), and I remember my mum watching it on television in complete shock. She had watched the whole thing whilst I’d been at school.

I didn’t really understand what was happening to be honest. Even when I was watching the repeats of the plane crashing into the side of the tower, I was somewhat oblivious the gravity of the situation (though as a nine year old child, I suppose I could be forgiven for that). The news continued to report the tragedy for a long time, and my school held assemblies to discuss the matter. I knew people had died, and that made me very sad, but I remember thinking that people died all the time, so why was this one incident reported on so much? About a month or so after, TY released three Beanie Babies as a tribute to those lost during 9/11. One of these was a Dalmatian Beanie Baby called Rescue, and I wanted him the moment I saw him, not really knowing the true nature of his purpose. My mum obliged happily, knowing what he represented. I remember taking my little Dalmatian with the red collar and American flag on his leg home and reading his tag. It read:

To honor our heroes
who lost their lives in the
national catastrophe that
took place on September 11, 2001.
We mourn for them and express our
deepest sympathy to their families.
God Bless America

Rescue the Dalmatian was joined by America the Bear and Courage the German Shepherd. The Beanies were a set of three released to honor those who perished in the tragedy of 9/11.

I found Rescue in my room recently, and the memories flooded back to me upon reading it again. I remember looking into all the acts of heroism and bravery after reading Rescue’s tag, and that’s when the situation really hit home to me. I looked into the stories of firefighters and first responders and those who had died, as well as all the search-and-rescue dogs attempting to save people among the chaos. As a child, it can be hard to see past your immediate opinion and truly consider the sheer weight of a situation, but with Rescue’s help, I was able to see just how this event was indeed very different to anything I had ever seen before, and how serious it was. It was the first time I felt like I was thinking like a grown up. I looked at the world differently from then on — obviously as I got older, but also from my ability to think harder and search deeper. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have even bothered if it wasn’t for Rescue reminding me of exactly how much was lost on that day.

Rescue, perhaps the goodest and bravest boy of them all.

Beanie babies will forever be ingrained in culture. They are still bought, sold and collected even now and will remain a timeless staple of most of our childhoods. They certainly are for me. Especially you Rescue, the bravest firefighting Dalmatian the world has ever known.

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‘Shenmue III’ Gamescom Trailer Details a Day in the Life of Ryo

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The original Shenmue games pioneered the open world genre, in part through their inclusion of many different minigames and side activities. The Kickstarter-funded Shenmue III looks to continue that legacy, as developer Ys Net and publisher Deep Silver have debuted a new trailer at Gamescom 2019 entitled “A Day in Shenmue.”

The developers provided the following description of the trailer via their latest Kickstarter update: “Exploring the town, playing minigames and battling! We hope it feels just how a Shenmue day should!” Sure enough, the footage showcases the series protagonist Ryo participating in a number of minigames, such as a boxing game and a pachinko machine. The end of the trailer also includes a good look at the series’ signature kung fu combat.

Beyond the new trailer, the Kickstarter update also noted that Yu Suzuki, the famed creator of Shenmue, will be present at Gamescom for autograph signings.

After numerous delays, Shenmue III will finally launch on November 19, 2019 for PS4 and PC via the Epic Games Store.

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Freelance Film Writers

Goomba Stomp is the joint effort of a team of like-minded writers from across the globe. We provide smart readers with sharp, entertaining writing on a wide range of topics in pop culture, offering an escape from the usual hype and gossip. We are currently looking for Film, TV, Anime and Comic writers.

Contact us: Editor@GoombaStomp.com

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