Afrika, the nonviolent game (oh, poor animals)

A note about animal lovers, starting with an interview with Phil Harrison, the bald president of the Sony game development branch.

He says that the upcoming PS3 video game Afrika will be something like a virtual photographic safari (zzzzz), so no big caliber rifles for us: “It’s not about killing and it’s not about running around the environment shooting elephants and hippopotamuses — that would be awful.”

Aww, sure! Poor savannah animals!

I’m wondering what Harrison is going to say the day they launch the next Grand Theft Auto… :D

Apparently in the virtual world a drug dealer roaming around town, stealing cars and killing old wives is ok, while taking down an elephant is not, what the heck!

Lioness attacking a zebra

There IS some violence after all!

As for the mass hysteria about violence in video games, involving politicians from around the world, including China, Usa, and Europe (at least they agree on a single issue for once), I’ll get back to you on that another day.

Surely Afrika is poised to become a poster child for conformist activists, i can hear them already: “Look how you can promote, and sell well, a game with educational value and where there’s no violence! It’s just a matter of good will!”

Today I wanted to focus on those little unintentional hints that in this society we are losing grasp with reality; we can find one in that Harrison’s phrase, about not hurting animals and/or respecting the ecosystems.

Were you ever bothered by the stale Hollywood cliché involving a dog to be rescued? Come on, there’s a sinking ship or a bloody battle underway, tens (at least) of people die horrible deaths… but the most heartrending music, all violins and strings, is reserved for a long sequence where the cute dog fights for his life, and you fear he couldn’t make it (but obviously he survives… better yet, he heroically rescues the owner and/or some scatterbrains).

Moreover, the poodle star is astonishingly smart, showing a readiness of mind you’d want to find in some post office clerks… wait… ehm, this last remark was not written by me, it’s Blumudus’ fault. ;-)

Moving on, my peluche suggests me to cite L’Ours (the Bear) by Jean-Jacques Annaud, an exceptionally annoying movie my stomach couldn’t stand for more than 15 seconds, a success by a director who knows how to craft an ideological product with no sound basis but rich in cheesy, ill-conceived emotion gimmicks.
Poor bears, killed by merciless, cruel hunters! Bad humans, bad!

How about those insane childish movies where they fight perfidious vivisectionist scientists and the co-star is a chimpanzee escaped from a research facility…

Ok, it’s normal that my cat’s death impresses me more than a car accident in my area where a stranger dies, whereas the explosion of a factory 500Km away is even less emotionally involving, even if 16 workers die, but at the same time such an event is way more interesting than a typhoon killing 600 people at the other side of the world…

By this logic the dog companion of the fiction’s protagonist is naturally more important than the extras.
But there’s more to our story than this well known “news relevance” principle.

It’s about who is man: not simply an animal (!), and how people fail to register this distinction.

As a species it’s normal that we uphold our interests rather than those of other species, unless the two coincide. Isn’t this strikingly clear and obvious?

Yet some use the term speciesism, referring to discriminating against non humans, as if it were a bad thing. I’m biased in favor of humans? Of course, and I’m proud of it!

The individual animal has no intrinsic value, that’s what nature teaches us every day: the dramatic death of someone is a good meal for someone else. It’s a pity when people convince themselves that every critter needs to be preserved in its individuality. Especially considering all the meaningful endeavors where we could put our time and money instead.

I shake my head recalling that rescue attempt performed on a couple of whales stuck in the arctic ices a few years ago, with a significant waste of resources.
Recently the lunchtime news program of La7, an Italian national broadcasting tv, covered an accident where a car ran over a cat, with images of the recovering cat after veterinary intervention. I think it was a way of experimenting with audience measurements: there was absolutely no meaningful news: only the n-th lousy injured cat!

Very well, we can pause here for now. It shouldn’t be that difficult to find many other examples, especially if you watch closely tv and magazines from multiple countries.

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