That would be any culture that could produce a video/mobile game like this. Before you click that link, be aware that it takes you to the beta site of an Android game called Dog Wars. From that link (all typography in the original):
Raise your Dog to Beat the Best!
A GAME THAT WILL NEVER BE IN THE iPHONE APP STORE!!!
Feed, water, train and FIGHT your virtual dog against other player’s… action games, chatroom, many characters and dogs to choose from, virtual store, etc.
If this already has been blogged here, my apologies. Hell, my apologies for belonging to the same species as the presumptively sentient types who wrote the necessary code.
I know that there are all kinds of real arguments folks have over whether or not games or porn or violent kids shows or Kill Bill evoke or displace the behaviors they depict.
What’s more, I’ll concede that point, FWIW: if I were a betting man, I’d lay cash down on the proposition that no one is going to be seduced into dog fighting by playing with digital pit bulls on a three inch screen. But that’s not my point.
It is that our culture — all the ways we experience, interpret and express feelings and ideas about the business of living in the world — dies just a bit every time something like this slips by. If we think that cruelty isn’t be fun, then representations of the joy of sadism can’t be passed by in silence.
Perhaps I’m just too much of an alter-kocker in saying so, but there it is. To be clear: I do not argue that games like these should be banned. I think it, its makers, and anyone playing it should be shamed.
It should be no more acceptable to play this than it is scream “kike” in Fenway’s bleachers (happened to me once; called the guy on it; did not get my head removed, to my rather surprised relief).
I would not let my son play with any kid who showed him that game, and I tell the parents so and why. I would respond to anyone who talked of it with gusto to me (pretty unlikely, I’d say, given my DFH-ish daily round) that this kind of thing is a moral and an aesthetic cancer. I’d write this.
It just isn’t acceptable to celebrate others’ pain. Dogs, people, whoever. I’m sickened, saddened and most troubled by the comments at that link that tell me to chill, because after all, it’s only a game.
Well yes it is…but if the old writer’s adage — you are what you read — has any truth to it, we need to be damn careful about what we play. And if we care about our collective capacity to care about what happens to one another, then it seems to me both right and necessary to name and shame those who wallow in this particular swamp.
Please forgive the rant. I’m just gobsmacked by this one — perhaps over reacting to what is, after all, just one more in a long line of stupid human tricks. But still…
Image: William Blake, The Stygian Lake, with the Ireful Sinners Fighting, (illustration for Dante’s Inferno, Canto VII), 1824-1827.