You've no doubt heard by now about the Massachusetts high school students who are in a tizzy over all the dead dogs, killed by you, that litter Treyarch's latest World War II-themed FPS, Call of Duty: World at War. Brenna Lucci, President of her school's animal rights club, has managed to attract more than 100 signatures to a petition she hopes to send to Activision protesting the game's pronounced lack of animal friendliness. The obvious irony, of course, is that lost in all this concern over the fate of these digital doggies is the ongoing massacre of thousands of on-screen humans who, though equally artificial, are nonetheless much closer kin to Ms. Lucci than the furry fleabags she's so worked up about.
One wonders how such an extreme preference for shooting men rather than animals ever took root. My guess, for what it's worth, is that dogs (or at least 12-pound Pomeranians) are cute. Maybe it's unfair to the greater high school teenybopper demographic, but I'm fairly certain there's a natural tendency among at least some of them to be horrified out of all proportion to the reality of certain acts, particularly those perpetrated against the world's defenseless cute-and-cuddlies. And is the problem here really with dogs, or is it instead the perception held by the aggrieved teens, for whom every dog is just a little bit of lovin' away from becoming a devoted and family-friendly Mister Snuggles, that's causing all the trouble?
Let's think about wolves for a minute. Wolves are essentially just dogs writ large, after all. But unlike their domesticated cousins, with whom many of us interact on a daily basis, wolves roam in the dark places with a fearsomely malevolent reputation. They are, for all intents and purposes, the quadrupedal stormtroopers of the animal kingdom, and as such they feature prominently as fodder in many popular MMOGs, where they're slaughtered on a scale that makes Call of Duty seem like a few smacks with a rolled-up newspaper.
Yet nobody sheds a team for them. Nobody rails against the injustices suffered by the majestic Canis lupus. And unlike the mutts in Call of Duty, which are actively trying to render your bits from your other bits, many of these MMOWs are just standing around minding their own business. They live in the fields and forests you're tromping through on your way to someplace bigger and better, and you're not killing them out of self-defense or to curb some greater evil, you're doing it because some bozo in the village said that if you want to hit the next level then you'd best be bringing him some wolf pelts.