(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights organisation, has made a Pokémon parody that slams the game for its mistreatment of imaginary creatures.
Called Pokémon Black and Blue, the game pits rebellious Pokémon against unfeeling carers, in a bid to rescue other Pokémon from cruel slavery. Dialogue is pitched against keeping Pokémon in Poké Balls and forcing them to fight each other — drawing parallels to the mistreatment of pets and other animals. In between fights, you get all sorts of "goodies" — a graphic video about animal abuse, a desktop, a set of printable trading cards.
It would actually be a clever campaign if it wasn't so steeped in the idea that violence is the best response — the Pokémon fight humans, using tactics such as protesting and education to weaken foes, before hitting them with physical attacks. For us, the over-the-top bloodiness reached a peak when a flayed Oshawatt joined our party.
PETA seems to believe that Pokémon teaches children animal cruelty. The game's web page states, "The amount of time that Pokémon spend stuffed in Poké Balls, is akin to how elephants are chained up in train carts, waiting to be let out to 'perform' in circuses. But the difference between real life and this fictional world full of organised animal fighting, is that Pokémon games paint rosy pictures of things that are actually horrible."
We're against animal cruelty. Who isn't? But PETA's methods of responding with blood and horror — while they may get attention — are little more than tasteless shock tactics that seem to advocate animal rights over those of humans, while remaining firmly rooted in the idea that an imaginary world that is populated with imaginary creatures, with a story that holds kindness and compassion paramount, is an evil tool for teaching children to be cruel to animals.
We recommend that you go donate to or help out at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) instead.