A call of ethics.

Upon hearing the news that Battlefield 3 had been criticised for containing animal cruelty, I immediately looked further into who, what and when? It turned out that Peta (People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals) had a bit of an issue with a scene in the game where the player has the option to kill a rat with a combat knife, only to throw it aside and leave it. Even though the idea of animal cruelty within games is a very bad thing, my main aim of this blog is to find out why exactly the developers decided that this act was necessary to include in the game. I haven’t actually played the game and don’t intend to, so I will be finding out all information via the web.

When I first read an article about this on Edge online, the phrase used by Peta to explain the scene in the game didn’t quite sit right with me; they said “The game gives players the option to kill a rat with a combat knife in the back in order to then lift it by its tail, then toss it away.”. Now reading that out of context actually sounds quite bad, it comes across that just in a general level in the game the player stops and kills a rat for no reason. In actuality the player finds themselves trying to hide from quite a lot of enemy soldiers, so they are creeping through trenches and tunnels trying to stay alive and correct me if I’m wrong by the looks of the gameplay, you are unarmed; so the players only option is to sneak. As you progress through the level, staying unnoticed, the character begins to crawl through a tunnel, in which they encounter a rat that begins to bite them. If left alone the noise created from the rat biting the character alerts a guard that just happens to be stood above where the player is. So the outcome if the rat is left appears to be death, as seen in this gameplay footage I found:

Personally I find this rather interesting as it appears to have been used as a barrier within the level. When playing the game you can choose to leave the rat but in doing so the character dies. So, for me if I was posed in that situation I would leave the rat, then see the game over screen and keep trying the level until I found a way around it. This is because I see Battlefield as a fairly serious game, in the terms that it is about a war and it is meant to be seen as if ‘this could be happening in real life right now’. So, the concept of Battlefield is a very realistic outset. Saying this does this mean that the act of having to kill a rat for the character to stay alive reflects a realistic choice that most likely occurs to soldiers every day. Not in the sense of killing a rat, I’m referring to the act of killing another human being. Is this little part of the level instilling within the player’s head the fact that the reality within Battlefield relates directly to a reality that is happening within society. Does it make them realise that every bullet counts?

The reason that I find this such an interesting topic is due to the fact that the relation to the real is often what FPS’s lack, or avoid. Which in my opinion creates a game that you cruise through shooting enemies without relating them to being human, even though they appear human. Your immersed within the hyperreality.

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