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Does Minecraft Promote Animal Cruelty?

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avatar lilmoonsun
Level 12 : Journeyman Miner
Video games have never been without controversy, not even Minecraft. The super popular pixelated world-building game is usually hailed as teaching children programming basics. However, in recent years, Minecraft has drawn some ire for its portrayal of animals in game. Some have even gone far as to argue that the game encourages violence towards animals. This essay will examine the merits of this claim in brief.

The Role Nonhuman Characters Play in Minecraft

In Minecraft’s boundless world that players can manipulate, animals play an important—though not central—role. Some examples of creatures a player can encounter include sheep, dogs, wolves, cows, and chicken. These nonhuman characters are non-playable, but advocates against animal testing and cruelty have raised concerns regarding how the game lets players interact with them. While a portion of fans dismisses these concerns as simply argumentative, there are merits to some that this essay will address below.

The gameplay in Minecraft is centered on constructing structures. Essentially, characters “mine” for material and “craft” things out of them. When the game begins, players can simply punch into the ground to release cubic blocks to build structures. As they level up, the material characters can mine increases in complexity. They can begin to harvest wood blocks from trees, lava blocks, or meat blocks from livestock.

A part of the game allows players to farm creatures in a fantasy setting that mimics real life. Characters can raise dogs, feed sheep, or breed chicken. But the game does have a component where players can kill livestock to harvest meat as a resource. As such, some users breed animals just to kill them for resources. This is the part that has animal rights advocates concerned.

Concerns from Parents and Animal Rights Advocates

In Minecraft, characters can employ a variety of ways to kill animals. Some possible examples of animal testing and cruelty in-game include being able to set nonhuman living things on fire, beating them, or using a constructed weapon to kill them. Some parents have voiced concerns about such type of violence in the game, given that Minecraft only warns of “mild” violence as a game rated “Everyone 10+.”

Some animal rights advocates have also raised issue, especially with Minecraft using certain types of endangered animals for purposes that would be considered cruel in real life. For example, parrots, a species that tends to appear in animal testing essay write-ups, drop rare feathers if characters go on to kill enough of them. Polar bears can be bred to be killed for blocks of packed ice, a highly desired crafting item.

PETA and Turkey Government Ban

It’s not just the vegetarian players who complain about Minecraft’s animal portrayals. The government of Turkey reportedly went as far as to ban the game for encouraging violence against animals and enemies. To be fair, the conservative Turkish government has a history of trying to ban video games, which it finds addictive and socially isolating young people.

PETA, which recently put out a new animal testing research paper, took on a more playful approach to protesting animal testing in-game. The famous non-profit opened its own Minecraft account to create a “utopia for animals” called PETA-craft. The advocates created an in-game world where land is verdant and bountiful, and all creatures could roam free.

Does the Game Encourage Users to Engage in Animal Cruelty?

It’s important to note that in Minecraft, fans are given a choice with regards to how they interact with creatures. Players can choose between three modes: construction, peaceful, and survival. Killing is prominent in the “survival” mode, but not in the other two. Users can also lovingly rear beasts, as PETA showed with their own Minecraft account.

The game users can pet animals and care for them at home. Some wild beasts can be adopted. For example, wolves are enemy attackers, until characters give them bones to become friendly. Because the game offers users multiple options to interact with creatures, it’s difficult to say that it actively encourages animal cruelty. Rather, it mimics real-life meat farming scenarios, where fans do have the choice to take a non-cruelty approach.

Minecraft was not designed as a violent video game, especially with regards to animals. In fact, Mojang, the developer of the game, has been responsive to calls for more positive animal portrayal. The developers recently shelved plans to include dolphins that players can ride, and threatened species like elephants won’t be portrayed in the game. It seems that the developers are taking the game in a new direction where interactions with nonhumans are friendlier and less violent.

10/20/2019 6:05 am
Level 8 : Apprentice Skinner
What did I just read? Promoting animal cruelty? Animal testing? If people are actually claiming this stuff, chances are they've never played Minecraft and just heard that you can kill animals in it and tried to use it to spread some "video games cause violence" narrative.
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