Video Games

People for the Ethical Treatment of Pixels


People for the Ethical Treatment of Pixels

Courtesy PETA

PETA, the animal-rights group, has a proud tradition of spoofing video games it feels promote an inhumane and carnivocentric worldview, and its latest target is Nintendo’s (7974:JP) Pokémon series.

The group has just released Pokémon Black & Blue, a takeoff on Pokémon’s Black Version 2 and White Version 2. According to PETA’s website, “the amount of time that Pokémon spend stuffed in pokéballs is akin to how elephants are chained up in train carts, waiting to be let out to ‘perform’ in circuses.”Courtesy PETA

In the PETA version of the game, you begin play as Pikachu, the most famous Pokémon. In this new interpretation, however, you have escaped your trainer and battle against him. In your arsenal are the effective Quick Attack and Thunder Shock moves, as well as the less powerful Group Hug and Protest. Other characters with different moves join the fray as you progress through the game.

PETA’s point is, because of games like Pokémon, “generations of children were growing up believing that Pokémon exist for no other reason than to be used and abused by humans.” Not to split hairs or anything, but wasn’t it already an agreed-upon fact that Pokémon exist for precisely that reason? Given, you know, that they aren’t real? And that we invented them?

As CNET has reported, PETA has protested other games which more explicitly and realistically portray animal violence. The group has protested Kage Games’ KG Dogfighting, an Android app in which you raise and train dogs for (as the name suggests) dogfighting, including injecting them with steroids. It seems like a fair target—that game sounds terrible.

But Pokémon is a game that brags about things like “a Dragon- and Ice-type Pokémon with a devastating Ice-type attack,” one that’s “even stronger than Zekrom’s Fusion Bolt or Reshiram’s Fusion Flare!” I, for one, am shocked to learn that something has exceeded the strength of Zekrom’s Fusion Bolt, but aren’t we clearly dealing in the absurd here? PETA’s done a nice job with a reasonably clever publicity stunt (to wit, this post), but aren’t there real animals out there being mistreated? Aren’t they ahead of Pikachu in line?

Grobart is a senior writer for Bloomberg Businessweek and the managing editor of Bloomberg Digital Video. Follow him on Twitter @samgrobart.

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