Here’s a story I’ve been keeping an eye on since I first saw a forum post at the Escapist. Activision’s Call of Duty: World At War is one of many video games taking place during World War II. In some of the levels, the Nazis sick killer dogs on you. As many gamers know, animals are some of the toughest opponents in a video game, even during the 2-D platform era. I can’t tell you how often I’ve played the original NES version of Ninja Gaiden, been half way across a pit, only to be knocked into that pit by some bird. Dogs tend to strike at you, and in some games keep striking at you until your dead, you escape, or kill you first. Beyond the fact that the Nazis did use attack dogs (thus meeting Activision’s goal towards historical accuracy), they add a level of danger to the game, thus adding to the interactive narriative.

However, one college student isn’t happy to see even virtual animals hurt (never mind all the people getting shot and killed–you know, the opponents!), and now PETA has taken up her cause.

It began with 19-year-old Breanna Lucci, a student at the Academy of Notre Dame (which for some odd reason is shortened to NDA instead of AND–I’ll let you guess why) who wasn’t happy with the man on canine violence in World at War.

Breanna Lucci knows her two Pomeranians — Fluffy and Winnie the Pooh — would not last two seconds in “Call of Duty: World at War,” the immensely popular video game in which the animated gore piles high.

But even killings of the game’s vicious attack dogs have moved this animal lover to rally students at the Academy of Notre Dame against animated cruelty that she fears could turn real.

Lucci, an Andover resident and president of the school’s Animal Rights Club, two weeks ago launched a petition to heighten disgust over the canine aspect of a video bloodfest she saw her older brother engaging in.

Lucci says the game’s retail price of $59.99 is another good reason parents should discourage their children from purchasing “Call of Duty: World at War,” which carries a “Mature 17-plus” rating.

Barbara Vitale, an English and Latin teacher who serves as faculty moderator of the [school’s Animal Right Club], adds, “We don’t think killing people is a good idea either.”

Well, thanks for the qualifier, but I bet that’s not on the petition you made, and I would think if were the case, the humans being shot, Nazis or otherwise, in all sorts of games would have made you protest sooner. (This is also not the first game where you’re forced to kill your non-human attackers.) 100 of her fellow students also signed the petition protesting the M-Rated video game (which is similar to a R-rated movie) and it’s use of dog opponents, and I wonder if they ever took part in protests and petitions against other games, like Grand Theft Auto. This, of course, brought the gamers out, already a defensive bunch since many of the video game critics seem to treat games as the root cause of today’s violence. (I’ll get into all this in future posts I’m planning.)

“Killing dogs as a form of entertainment … over and over again. That’s one of the objects of the game,” says Lucci, 19, a senior at NDA. “Parents need to know what they are buying their kids. Killing animals should not be a form of entertainment.”

One of the objects in the game? I suppose she could mean objectives, and she’d still be wrong. Killing the dogs is but one aspect of a much larger objective: staying alive.

See, running down the street shooting dogs willy-nilly is bad. You don’t pump them full of bullets for rolling over and wagging their tails. You give them hugs, and call them Mr. Snugglewuffkins, despite what their actual names might be. I think we can all get behind this idea.

Dogs trained to tear out your throat, on the other hand, you shoot. You shoot them quickly, and should they roll over on their backs and wag their little stumpy tails, you shoot them more, because that’s a trap. They don’t want belly rubs; they want to taste your innards.

Call me a monster or an extremist, but I think it’s perfectly fine to teach our children to defend themselves from wild animals that want to eat them.

Or to be more precise, dogs trained by people who want you dead to bring about said death. (Although I doubt attack dogs ever roll over and wag their tails, but that’s nitpicking and ignoring the fact that’s he’s kidding or exaggerating for effect or whatever.) However, she’s within her right to disagree with it, but she should do what I do with most M-Rated games: don’t play them. Instead, things have now escalated with the interference of PETA (the shortened form of People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the Hell with Humans, but PETAAHWH doesn’t roll off the tounge quite the same).

The occasionally notorious organization decided to get involved on Ms. Luccia’s behalf against Activision by sending copies of Nintendogs, a game for the DS system where the dogs are all nice, happy, and just looking for your love. (Although you can mistreat them, make them perform in dog shows, and other things I would think PETA would be against.) From a statement sent to Gamepolitics:

Not since we were pitted against Nazi attack dogs when we first escaped from Castle Wolfenstein 17 years ago have we seen such barbaric treatment of dogs in gameplay as we did in Call of Duty, World of War.

To help the folks at Activision Blizzard learn about the ethical treatment of animals, we’re offering to let them take PETA’s “Developing Empathy for Animals” free of charge and are sending a package of Nintendogs games to their office.

Activision, of course, has issued their own response:

In order to create believable, real-world scenes and heighten the game playing experience, “Call of Duty: World at War” depicts the ruthless and gritty combat of World War II.

Dogs are included in the game for authenticity since they were used extensively by German, Japanese, U.S. and Soviet troops during the war. Activision in no way endorses or condones cruelty to animals, and we don’t believe the game will encourage cruelty in any way.

Sadly, since some people still blame the Doom game and Marilyn Manson (sure as heck not MY taste in music) for the shooting at Columbine back in 1999, as if the game turned them evil and other elements had nothing to do with it, and various other parent groups, politicians, and other do-gooders try to blame video games for any act of violence, I don’t think that will convince the naysayers, who are sure that “(m)y brother is a sweetheart. He won’t be killing dogs after playing. But some people might”.

I’d love to know what shows and movies she’s seen recently. I have my own issues with the violence levels in some games, but this “incident” is hardly the worst thing in games right now. The point is to give the gamer an idea of what the soldiers who actually fought (and in many cases died) in WW2 went through, and give them a challenging game to play. Why should the animals be any different than the humans?

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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