The video game industry is no stranger to controversy. Since the days of 2-D games like Mario, simulated violence has been accused of influencing real-world violent tragedies. Video games’ seeming impressionability got on the radar after the Columbine High School Massacre. According to the New York Times, it was discovered that the two teenage shooters had been recently banned from playing the violent computer game, Doom.
Those advocating restrictions on video games also cite the story of an Ohio teen who shot his father and stepmother in their living room after they took away his Halo 3 privileges as an example of the effects of violence in games.
The latest criticism of video game violence, however, centers on animal abuse rather than human violence. Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise has come under fire from PETA and the Pacific Whale Foundation for the studio’s decision to add a whale hunting element to their upcoming pirate-based title Black Flag. The series, which boasts six titles for the central consoles, considers their games paragons of historical accuracy. The settings of the franchise have ranged from Jerusalem during the Third Crusade to Ottoman-era Istanbul, and from 15th Century Florence to the American Revolution.
The whale hunting featurette of Black Flag has been condemned “disgraceful” by PETA and “disgusting” by the Pacific Whale Foundation, who believe that the game glorifies the murder of whales. In response to the controversy, Ubisoft released a statement:
“Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag is a work of fiction that depicts the real events during the golden era of pirates…We do not condone illegal whaling, just as we don’t condone a pirate lifestyle of poor hygiene, plundering, hijacking ships, and over-the legal-limit drunken debauchery.”
Will Beaton is a freshman majoring in English and Linguistics