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I’ve been doing this gig for long enough to have covered a bunch of questionable video game stunts made by animal rights company Peta over the years.
Most of these have been quite ruthless attacks on specific video games, designed to call out practices with gruesome ‘parody’ games.
Obviously, this is a company that relies on shock tactics to get people to notice it – and it’s not up to me to make you decide whether its strategy is the right one – but it’s not unfair to say that its actions have proved controversial, with even some other animal rights groups criticising how it does things.
So picture my surprise when Peta posted a video about Elden Ring and, bracing myself, I clicked it… and actually laughed.
Its video, shown below, shows you five ways you can be an animal rights campaigner in a world filled with dangerous animals out for your blood.
If you’re wondering why this is such a big deal, allow me to bore you with a brief history of Peta’s relationship with video games.
It used to be innocuous enough – back in 2007 it released Super Chick Sisters, a Flash game parody of New Super Mario Bros where you play as a pair of small chicks who have to rescue Peta campaigner Pamela Anderson from the evil Colonel Sanders.
It also got a sequel a couple of years later in which this time Pamela Anderson was kidnapped by Ronald McDonald, because apparently, all the fast food mascots had it in for the former Baywatch star.
But while these two parodies used video games as a means to campaign against another cause – the way animal cruelty was ingrained in production for fast food companies – Peta eventually turned its attention to video games themselves.
The return of the Tanooki suit in Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS led to a Peta game called Mario Kills Tanooki, which featured a graphic image of Mario wearing a suit covered in blood and holding a raccoon’s decapitated head.
Pokémon Black and Blue was an attempt to criticise Pokémon for being what it equated to a cockfighting simulator and had Pikachu being battered senseless by a blood-covered baseball bat.
And don’t get me started on the Cooking Mama parody they made where you have to graphically slaughter a turkey.
Now, while I’d hope most people agree that animal cruelty is a terrible thing, it’s also fair to say that Peta’s antics have been divisive, and by targeting video games it’s also disappointed some players who felt it was picking the wrong battles.
That’s why this Elden Ring video is so surprising to me because it gets across Peta’s message in a more light-hearted way that certainly doesn’t fit with its usual shock-focused style.
And while this may not fit with what many of Peta’s followers feel is the way it should be handling things, you never know – maybe by embracing video games in a more level-headed way like this, Peta might actually get its points across to the gaming audience and make the changes it wants to see happen.