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Monster Hunter and the Conflicted Vegetarian

How do you come to terms with a game that clashes with your belief system?

Opinion by Bob Mackey, .

This article originally ran in December 2015. We're re-publishing it here to celebrate the release of Monster Hunter World. Check out our review here!

I may be USgamer's self-appointed Monster Hunter evangelist—check out my recent review of 4 Ultimate if you need proof—but, just five short years ago, Capcom's multiplayer-focused RPG series did an excellent job of turning my stomach.

Take a trip with me back to 2010: I'd been pegged to review Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker for the recently departed 1UP.com, so I decided to pick up an old copy of Monster Hunter Freedom Unite on the cheap, just to see what all the fuss was about—if Hideo Kojima was leaning on this series for inspiration, it had to be something special (or at least too popular to ignore). I get about 20 minutes into the game, and, after coming to terms with its clunky PSP controls and menus upon menus, I'm given one of my first quests: slaying some wandering herbivores to obtain their undoubtedly tasty insides. Wandering out into the wilderness, I spot a family of peaceful dinosaurs hanging out at a watering hole, minding their own business. Already I'm feeling conflicted about this whole "monster hunting" thing.

One of the few situations where human-on-dino violence is acceptable.

I press on, swinging my massive sword at the nearest cow-sized lizard—what looks like the female of the group. After a few blows—and without my target putting up a fight—she falls, and her companions make a hasty retreat. As I dig into this fresh body to reap my rewards, I can't help but feel awful about the whole thing. Did I just bring some poor dino-family to an swift and brutal end thanks to the edge of my blade? After this experience, I quickly filed away Monster Hunter in the "not for me" pile—I just didn't have the heart (or stomach) for it.

If you haven't guessed by now, I'm a vegetarian. (Actually, I'm a pescetarian, but further classification feels kind of pretentious to me.) And, contrary to popular belief, we're not a prosthelytizing group. As a matter of fact, it's typically other people who bring up the subject, mostly if I turn down something I'm offered due to its meat content. This doesn't happen nearly as much now that I've moved to the Bay Area, but back in my Ohio hometown, I found myself trapped in confrontations with incredulous people who seriously could not process how a human being could resist the siren song of bacon. ("Really? No bacon ever?") Like many places in the Midwest, a bite of food without meat in it is an unthinkable proposition.

I'm coming up on my tenth year of vegetarianism now, and while I still think cooked meat smells great—especially when its odors waft into my window from the Mexican restaurant next door—it's something I've learned to live without. Back in 2005, I reached the decision to go meatless due to my love of animals; while I won't ever try to confront anyone about their own lifestyle choices, I feel it's my responsibility as a human being to reduce the amount of suffering on this planet while I happen to be living on it. Really, though, it can't be overstated just how empathetic I am to the pain of animals, to the point where it sometimes negatively affects my life. If I go outside and see a little pigeon hobbling around on one foot, my heart sinks for the next hour. And if I happen to witness someone mistreating their pet (or a wild animal), I always try my damnedest to set them on fire with my mind. (I figure it's bound to pay off one day.)

Not scientifically accurate, except in my hometown.

And that's why I wasn't necessarily on board with Monster Hunter from day one: while you're slaying these beasts out of necessity instead of sport, the game still asked me to defy some very strong beliefs I hold. To be honest, I wasn't entirely sure if my original take on Monster Hunter could just be chalked up to idiosyncrasy, but a few people on Twitter reached out to me about the issue without the question even being raised. In response to my 4 Ultimate review, one of my followers said, "Your MH4U review got me interested in the game, but is it weird that I think hunting the monsters would make me sad?" Another follower replied to this: "That's actually the main reason I can't get into the series. I need to steel my bleeding heart." Clearly, I'm not alone in my oversensitivity.

To Capcom's credit, their game centered on killing remains pretty sanitary. At best, you'll do some superficial damage to a monster, or lop off their tail, but you're never showered in fountains of blood or covered in viscera. And, in general, the monsters are the aggressors—though, to be fair, their hostility seems to be generated from territorialism rather than malevolence or a desire to eat you. Still, there's a brief bit of sadness baked into each and every battle. As you wear a monster down to the point where it's limping, drooling, and fleeing desperately, you should feel triumphant, but there's a bit of guilt mixed in as well. And when someone delivers the final blow and that massive beast spasms through its final breaths, well, it feels pretty heartbreaking—even if this wasn't Capcom's intention.

Before I'm accused of hypocrisy, I'm no fan of violence and killing in general, and don't typically seek out games with this subject matter. Even if they're popcorn, escapist entertainment, I don't touch Call of Duty because of my feelings about war, and the newest Mortal Kombat's fatalities escaped their former silliness and have now taken the form of photorealistic creep shows I'm not entirely comfortable with. I wouldn't try to take these games away from anyone, though, and I'll gladly admit fundamentalist belief systems don't lead to a happy life—nearly everything we consume has some problematic content, and I've played plenty of games where I did icky things without first having to pause and stand on one of many soapboxes to preach my outrage. And I feel that's something people angered by those critical of media fail to understand: You can disagree with or find content objectionable without wanting to banish it from existence. (Something Anita Sarkeesian points out in the introduction to all of her Feminist Frequency videos that her loudest detractors seem to completely ignore.)

As of now, I've played over 200 hours of the Monster Hunter series, so it's safe to say I've gotten over my initial reservations. Still, that doesn't mean I haven't learned to play the game in a way that best fits my bleeding heart sensibilities. Whenever possible, I trap instead of kill monsters, which actually works in my favor, since this difficult act yields more rewards—like Metal Gear, Deus Ex, Dishonored, and others, a pacifist approach is incentivized. And while it's implied these creatures are put down, post-capture, since everything happens off-screen, who's to say? Maybe Moga Island is home to a Jaggi petting zoo or something! (No, I'm not really that naive—I just prefer to not be around for the actual act of killing.)

When angered, my pet parrot is basically indistinguishable from Monster Hunter's Qurupeco.

Even so, it took some doing to get over my issues with Monster Hunter. And I don't expect everyone to simply "get over" their sensitivities—there's tons of media out there I'll never enjoy, so I feel no obligation to try. Regardless, it's been interesting to see how these simulacrums of reality manage to worm their way into our frontal lobes; kudos to Capcom, I guess, for making their cast of monsters feel so much like living things. But if they wanted to construct a new creature entirely out of delicious baked tofu for the inevitable Monster Hunter 5—in a possible sly reference to Resident Evil—I'd be the last person to object.

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Comments 64

  • Avatar for gordallott #1 gordallott 3 years ago
    This was a fairly strange article to read, more like a personal blog post than really speaking much of the game in the title.
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #2 cldmstrsn 3 years ago
    @kevinford68 Hahaha. I love Maddox Been reading his site for a good 10 plus years now.
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  • Avatar for bobservo #3 bobservo 3 years ago
    @kevinford68 I've literally never heard that joke before. What a completely fresh and original take on this issue. I hope he won a Webby Award for that one.
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  • Avatar for camchow #4 camchow 3 years ago
    I kind of feel you. Funny enough my girlfriend of 10 years was vegan for almost 2 years, for that time I had a LOT of vegan food. She was vegan strictly because of her compassion for animals and wanting to cut their suffering. She'd also privately judge and criticize anyone who claims to care about or love animals while not living a vegan lifestyle (yes even vegetarians because of the dairy and egg industry). I did my best to support her and lived off about I'd say about 90% vegan food (when she wasn't around I wouldn't stop myself from going out for tacos or burgers). She'd even play games in a vegan manner, not killing animals in Minecraft for example.

    Then last year happened. I finally had enough money to buy and put together a new computer. I finally had something in which I could play Skyrim (we had agreed to wait to play on the PC because of mods and such) and that was one of the first games I dove into. She also started playing it. Well turns out seeing all that raw and cooked meat in the game did something to her, though it had the opposite effect on her. She eventually broke down and confided that she was starting to have cravings for meat and a small part of that reason was because of the hunting and cooking in Skyrim.

    Long story short, she isn't vegan anymore but she still hates herself for falling off the wagon and considers herself weak and pathetic for liking meat again.

    Video games. Man... To think a video game was able to break her when countless people in real life could not. Go figure.
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  • Avatar for nickn #5 nickn 3 years ago
    @kevinford68 Sick burn bro. Run along now.
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #6 cldmstrsn 3 years ago
    @bobservo Ya Maddox is a hilarious guy. Read all his backlog stuff and you will be crying with laughter.
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  • Avatar for ojinnvoltz #7 ojinnvoltz 3 years ago
    I was playing Evolve and shot a creature and thought it was dead. Then it started making these sad noises as it tried to crawl away with its one working leg. Now I don't shoot wildlife unless it has incapacitated a teammate (and sometimes when it's carrying a buff).

    Usually I don't let my personal politics deter my enjoyment of media. My lens focuses more on form and structure. If something problematic pops up I'll file it in the back of my head, but I'll keep going on with it.

    My dad has wanted to go hunting for some time. I definitely want to shoot a deer and eat it even though my buddy who used to go hunting (now a vegetarian) says it's a real huge bummer. We're so removed from our food; I'd like to experience consuming something I've killed myself at least once in my life.
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  • Avatar for SargeSmash #8 SargeSmash 3 years ago
    I see your conundrum as similar to those that people of faith might have with certain games. There are quite a few that veer into sacrilegious territory, and I can handle some. But there are quite obviously a few that I will never, ever play, no matter how good the game is.

    I'm a softy for animals, too, but it doesn't keep me from eating meat. But I can understand why you've come to where you're at. Kudos for sticking to your convictions for that long.

    (Also, just because I can: Really? No bacon ever? ;) )
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  • Avatar for duvjones #9 duvjones 3 years ago
    That is one of those things that has to be measured on a personal level, so some... the simple fact that meat is involved would bring abhorring reaction. To others, there is so much that they can take... and finding those limits helps adjust to the content of the game.
    It's a judgment call that lay only with the player.
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  • Avatar for gillijack #10 gillijack 3 years ago
    I like to hear more personal interactions with games such as this. I'm a vegetarian too, but more for health reasons. However, it also helps relieve some of the tension I have between not liking violence to animals, and the way modern food aggressively tries to remove the violence from the public eye and mind. Monster Hunter seems OK to me since they're clearly in Hunter-Gatherer societies, the game creates its world well. Unfortunately, I'm in the tried, and tried, and tried, but can't get into Monster Hunter camp. :(
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  • Avatar for Mad-Mage #11 Mad-Mage 3 years ago
    I was happy to read this. As a vegetarian myself it gets really tiring hearing the same dumb mean-spirited jokes about vegetarians, getting the same awkward reactions when people find out you don't eat meat, and (as you pointed out) trying to find one single God-damn place to eat outside of one's home ($12.99 frozen pasta "primivera" at steakhouses aside).

    So it's always a slight joy for me when I find out someone I like and respect holds similar moral beliefs to mine, if only because not many people do.

    That all said, I don't relate at all to feeling bad about hunting animals (or even shooting dogs) in video games. I personally find the realistic depictions of war in games you mentioned far more repugnant. Especially ones about bloodily mowing down comically evil foreigners. So I don't disagree with the comment that equates this article to a personal blog post. But at least I enjoyed knowing that somewhere out there people do exist that share my passion for quality video games as well as the belief that factory farming does not fit with the enlightened species we strive to be.

    Kevinford: As a vegetarian for over 20 years I can not even start to describe how many times I've heard that dumb joke, or similar ones. By now it's really old, it's really boring, and it's really redundant. And frankly, I don't think it was very funny the first time.
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  • Avatar for DemiurgicSoul #12 DemiurgicSoul 3 years ago
    Deleted February 2015 by DemiurgicSoul
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  • Avatar for Captain-Gonru #13 Captain-Gonru 3 years ago
    I think, in my Ensign Gonru days, I may have gotten stupid over an article like this. It's a video game, right? Who cares?
    Then, while playing Fantasy Life, I encountered the tortoises. Having a tortoise as a pet in RL, I just couldn't bring myself to attack them. I had never before, nor since, had such a reaction.
    I guess my point is that I can see yours.
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  • Avatar for jmroo #14 jmroo 3 years ago
    Great read! Thank you for sharing, Bob!

    I would consider myself a bit conservative when it comes to content in games. The more realistic they're getting, the more the violence and scary stuff bothers me.

    But for some reason I'd never given a second thought to Monster Hunter being bothersome, so it was cool to hear from someone who does feel bothered by it.
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  • Avatar for mattcom26 #15 mattcom26 3 years ago
    I've always felt put off by killing animals in video games, even back to the Goombas in Super Mario Bros -- and more so now that I've been a vegetarian for a number of years. But I think it has more to do with perceived innocence than the fact they are animals. Somewhere on the scale between Goombas and Resident Evil bio-weapons, that guilty feeling definitely goes away.
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #16 touchofkiel 3 years ago
    I too despise animal violence and cruelty, and I've flirted with vegetarianism on and off throughout the years, but stuff like this has never bothered me in games. I guess it's just a matter of how far removed you are from the experience.

    In FFXIV, for example, there's a dungeon where the boss is a giant ape. Not mutated, just an ape, living in his little tropical paradise (with monkeys for adds, too). This bothered a friend of mine, but hell, after you've played a game that much, you're so far removed from the experience of it, and the meta-game overrides everything. I suspect I would feel much the same about MonsterHunter, if I could ever grasp its noob-unfriendly mechanics.
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  • Avatar for jimpjorps #17 jimpjorps 3 years ago
    @gordallott Yes, so? Do you go to burger places and marvel at how the food isn't much like lasagna?
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  • Avatar for Damman #18 Damman 3 years ago
    @DemiurgicSoul That argument doesn't necessarily hold up for a lot of reasons. For starters, having one aspect of a fictional game resonate on your life experiences does not mean that all aspects of all games do. For instance, a vegetarian may actively think about living animals when the idea of eating meat comes to mind. Then when they're tasked with seeking out well realized animal like things to slaughter and consume, it stands out. With mass murdering of people, not only is it so commonplace in games as to not feel particularly special or noteworthy, it's also not a subject that most people have had any experience thinking or having feelings about. As such, it's easier to not worry about the real world context there.

    And besides, didn't Bob say something to the affect of having little interest in military shooters and intensely violent games?
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  • Avatar for mos8580 #19 mos8580 3 years ago
    @Captain-Gonru I'm past 80 hours in FL so I know what you are referring to. Isn't that locking you out of some challenges though? XD
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  • Avatar for Damman #20 Damman 3 years ago
    I'm sure I heard in some dev diary or postmortem somewhere that many developers will put great effort into making their animal enemies seem particularly threatening and non-sympathetic both in appearance and behavior. That way it's easier for the player to divorce themselves from these kinds of misgivings.

    I have to give some credit to Capcom's Monster Hunter team for designing such realized monsters and giving them animation and behavior that makes them feel alive and real.
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  • Avatar for Captain-Gonru #21 Captain-Gonru 3 years ago
    @mos8580 Yeah, though there are so many challenges in the game, I'm figuring I can slide through without them. And yes, the completionist side of me is fighting on this one.
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  • Avatar for pennybags #22 pennybags 3 years ago
    lol

    Yeah I don't know man. Fortunately I subscribe to a philosophy where killing people for no reason is cool so I can enjoy GTA.
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  • Avatar for bobservo #23 bobservo 3 years ago
    @pennybags Rock on with your bad self.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #24 SatelliteOfLove 3 years ago
    As I've gotten older, I've gotten farther away from cruelty (well, involved gorny cruelty anyways like MK X you mentioned, comedic sociopathy options in games is still a hoot), but with MH, that's a place to get to fight giant monsters with a giant sword.
    @bobservo

    Well, he does have a point; outside of like, TETRIS or some shit, in-game and in-life ethical/morality scales are uncoupled, but do influence each other to an extent. Yours just align closer on this issue. Edited February 2015 by SatelliteOfLove
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  • Avatar for Asintador #25 Asintador 3 years ago
    This reminds me of the time when I told a friend I couldn't stomach playing Hotline Miami because it was basically a game about senseless violence.

    But I play CoD and enjoy it so... does that make me a hypocrite? :)

    Back to MonHun though, it's definitely a testament to Capcom's animators that the monsters feel so lifelike, from the way they stumble and trip and fall down, to the way they clamber and fly and try to chew your head off. Even how that Popo's body twitches after you kill it... (Sorry for putting that image into your head).

    Dangit, can't wait for MH4U.

    Disclaimer: I am an omnivore.
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  • Avatar for equalsign #26 equalsign 3 years ago
    Thanks for the article. I'm actually a vegan. I've never been able to give this series a chance for reasons similar to those you talked about.


    I almost grabbed the Wii U version when it was on sale a few weeks ago, but I just didn't think I'd be able to enjoy it. It can be awkward to bring up personal ethics and morality in the gaming community. I appreciate you talking about this.
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  • Avatar for unoclay #27 unoclay 3 years ago
    Bob, hey, excellent post. Thought provoking, im sure, for some readers.

    I swear i had the exact same reaction--and experience, down to the detail of killing those herbivore grazers in the opening scene of Tri--and almost swore off the game back when it came out on Wii. I too am veg (17 years but who's counting) and still miss eating meat in the general 'i like food' way, but same as you, can't possibly condone killing animals for convenience and taste. Our thought processes are very similar, based on your reasoning above.

    I really like what you said about the way MH sanitizes the gore. That definitely makes it playable for people like me. Plus, it's worth pointing out that the monsters in MH are more like dinosaurs, so it's far less impactful in a mammalian/avian sense.

    Plus, those m'fng beasts are BRUTAL, verging on unadulterated evil.......who's to say that if i was walking down my Philadelphia street, and suddenly a cow was stampeding all over my head (and ruining my chances at upgraded armor), I wouldnt swing my switchaxe with abandon??? ;']

    Good piece. Keep up the good fight for animal rights. This came off well--not preachy, just confessional/reflective.
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  • Avatar for unoclay #28 unoclay 3 years ago
    @equalsign As i noted in my own comment, im a veg of many years. If you avoid killing the passive animals in the game, and only focus on the quests, you might enjoy it. Believe me--they're BAD monsters and do a great job of making you WANT to kill them!! ;'] Edited February 2015 by unoclay
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  • Avatar for elthesensai #29 elthesensai 3 years ago
    And here I thought I was the only one that felt pangs of guilt after making my first kill in the monster hunter series. To be honest I love the game but can't get over the kill 100%.
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  • Avatar for equalsign #30 equalsign 3 years ago
    @unoclay Yeah, it seems like a fun game. I might pick it up next time it's on sale. I went through Xenoblade Chronicles mostly avoiding the passive monsters. It's good to know that strategy works here too.
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  • Avatar for hal9k #31 hal9k 3 years ago
    Thanks for sharing your experience, Bob. So what do you have against fish? Just kidding - I'm Catholic and my atheist girlfriend gives me a hard time every Lent about how it doesn't make sense to eat fish but not meat. She's done that diet herself for health reasons.

    My closest analog to your story is more about a weird phobia than moral objections. I really like doctor games like Trauma Center and the old DOS Life & Death 2, but I have problems with blood in a medical setting. I have no issues with doctors or needles and I can usually handle gory movies or bloody sports injuries I've seen (and received). But I break out in cold sweat when I have to get a blood test or see an actual surgery on TV. Visiting hospital patients, I've passed out cold at the sight of an IV being put in or removed.

    I've never had a problem with Trauma Center or Life & Death, but I couldn't make it through even a video of Surgeon Simulator. I wonder why. The reason might be the art style (L&D is pretty low-fi, while the TC games aren't exactly realistic), or it might even relate to sound design. Those factors seem like they could also influence your feelings about meat and the treatment of animals in games.
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  • Avatar for unoclay #32 unoclay 3 years ago
    @equalsign One thing beyond this whole discussion to know (as you've probably heard)...MH is a tough game to love until you get it. Its as much about controlling the camera and timing your attack/dodge rhythm as anything. you're gonna get killed.....a lot. get ready.
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  • Avatar for JiveHound #33 JiveHound 3 years ago
    Firstly eating meat or not eating meat has nothing to do with morality. Morality is a human construct, animals have no point of view on it.

    Also a pesceterian is the worst kind of 'vegetarian'. Don't eat the animals (funnily enough more relatable mammals) but kill the more alien fish life which probably undergoes more stress than any animal farmed for food.

    That's not even to mention the huge amount of land needed to grow vegetables etc. to supplant meat which would displace and harm many more species.

    Vegeterarians are among some of the most naive moral warriors out there.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #34 VotesForCows 3 years ago
    @bobservo Great post - Its always interesting to hear more about how a person in-toto interacts with games. I've been vegetarian since 2005 as well. Over that time my taste for blood in games has decreased, but that may also be an effect of ageing and starting a family.
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  • Avatar for boatie #35 boatie 3 years ago
    I know you said in the article that we are not proselytizing, but I wonder why you still eat fish if you feel sorry for animals? I'm just a vegetarian, not a vegan, but fish are still animals and fish is still meat, so it makes me curious when you say that you feel for animals but then eat fish?

    If I can get on a morally high ground for a moment, I do think that a vegetarian means you don't eat any meant, including fish.

    That all sounds much more antagonistic than I mean it to, and I know a lot of pescatarians eat it because of needed health benefits etc., but I thought it should be clarified.
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  • Avatar for Neifirst #36 Neifirst 3 years ago
    Another great article, Bob! Your experience with MH reminded me of playing GTA3 for the first time back in 2001. The freedom to run around Liberty City was exhilarating, but I simply couldn't move beyond an early mission where you had to set a car bomb and then detonate it within view of the crime scene. That sucker was traded in the very next day.

    As an aside, the third paragraph caused me to pause. After gently chiding readers for assuming that vegetarians as a group proselytize their beliefs, you then succumb to the same broad-brush thinking about Midwesterners and their apparently insatiable appetite for meat. I know full well it was based on personal experience, and likely made in jest, but it came across to me as a tiny bit condescending toward "fly-over" country.

    Keep up the great work; you and the entire USGamer team are the best collection of writers in the industry!
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  • Avatar for geoffreymoses97 #37 geoffreymoses97 3 years ago
    Deleted February 2015 by geoffreymoses97
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  • Avatar for geoffreymoses97 #38 geoffreymoses97 3 years ago
    @JiveHound That's not even to mention the huge amount of land needed to grow vegetables etc. to supplant meat which would displace and harm many more species.

    Yeah, not mentioning it might've been a good idea, inasmuch as it's pretty much the exact opposite of the truth. Then again, it definitely added that little extra bit of know-nothing, condescending smugness to your already-obnoxious comment, so if that's what you were going for, then mission accomplished, a winner is you, &c. Edited February 2015 by geoffreymoses97
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  • Avatar for Thusian #39 Thusian 3 years ago
    @bobservo respect, even though our beliefs differ I won't call you a "Grade A Moron"
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  • Avatar for alexb #40 alexb 3 years ago
    This is a little too navel-gazing, Bob.
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  • Avatar for hal9k #41 hal9k 3 years ago
    @geoffreymoses97 Thank you! If you hadn't said it I would've, and I'm glad you used a reference to back it up. What do they think the cows eat? The higher you go on the food chain, the more land you need to use to get the same amount of nutritional content. This makes sense. No process of energy transfer is 100% efficient, including biological processes that transfer calories through the food chain. Therefore, it takes more land to raise a cow for a human to eat than it would take if the human just ate the grain directly. In other words, the cow consumes many times more calories during its lifetime than we could possibly get out of it by consuming its meat and milk.

    Those facts don't prevent me personally from being an omnivore, but as someone with an interest and an education in science it really bothers me when people distort facts and deny reason. Science, folks. Edited February 2015 by hal9k
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  • Avatar for KaiserWarrior #42 KaiserWarrior 3 years ago
    @bobservo A very interesting perspective on my favorite game series. I'd never really considered how Monster Hunter's mechanics would affect someone of the more animal-friendly perspective, given how fantastical the creatures are... but I think it's a testament to the incredible work that Capcom has done that the monsters are so life-like as to inspire such feelings. It's what drew me to the series way back with the original on the PS2, just how alive everything seemed. And that was way back when the movements were much more robotic and stiff, even! It's hard to believe just how far the series has come in making itself a believable, living and breathing world -- and this despite not really having any major upgrades in graphical capability in the last decade.

    One more piece of proof that graphical power isn't what makes a game look good, but what you do with the power you've got.

    I'm glad that you found a way to make the game work for you. It's nice to see some compromise and middle-ground being achieved, amidst all of the extremist "my way or nothing" that goes on in these debates as of late.
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  • Avatar for bobservo #43 bobservo 3 years ago
    @boatie I don't know, I eat a piece of fish roughly every week/two weeks, so I really don't need to defend myself. You can be socially conscious and try to eat LESS meat as well—I'm certainly not going to judge anyone who does that for not going whole hog. This isn't an all-or-nothing proposal, and I feel all the other times I don't eat meat definitely outweigh the rare times the odd salmon filet crosses my plate.
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  • Avatar for JiveHound #44 JiveHound 3 years ago
    @geoffreymoses97

    Fair enough, I didn't research that and will concede.

    Still, I don't think it's a moral conundrum.
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  • Avatar for gillijack #45 gillijack 3 years ago
    I'm liking the comments from everyone like@hal9k@votesforcows and others. It's like most games writing assumes we're just eyeballs, brains, and hands, but articles like this open up discussion for how the rest of our lives intersect.
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  • Avatar for geoffreymoses97 #46 geoffreymoses97 3 years ago
    @JiveHound Well, actually, just for the record, this:

    eating meat or not eating meat has nothing to do with morality. Morality is a human construct, animals have no point of view on it.

    is such obvious nonsense that it seemed better to just politely leave it be.
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  • Avatar for Mad-Mage #47 Mad-Mage 3 years ago
    @geoffreymoses97 I chose not to reply. There's is no constructive response to a brazen, outlandish statement with no real reason or facts given to back it up.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #48 Kuni-Nino 3 years ago
    Quick tangent: The problem I have with Anita Sarkeesian isn't her message since I fundamentally agree with her opinion on variety, it's that she reaches that point on mischaracterizing a lot of games or failing to acknowledge the proper context in these video games. Her heart is in a good place, but a lot of her arguments fail to survive even the most basic of scrutiny. Somewhere along the venomous line of the Anita story, this point got lost and all we can focus on is her victimhood. Quite honestly, she did become a victim so she deserves all the sympathy she gets. I'm glad she didn't shut up and continues to do her thing. Even if it doesn't hold water, if she inspires some women to forge on, it's ultimately a good thing.

    Anyways, as for this piece Bob, this was enlightening. I can sort of relate to how you feel about animal suffering because I like animals too, but meat has been part of my diet since birth. I'm too old to switch habits now and I've accepted that living life also means that you have to suffer. I do feel pity for the animals slain for my meal but it's not something that's going to stop me.

    Wonderful piece Bob. Please continue to not shy away from these pieces. You may bring forth some unwanted ire, but the variety and perspective is sorely needed in this industry. Even if I don't agree, I'll still read them and consider the perspective.
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  • Avatar for hal9k #49 hal9k 3 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino Well said. It's funny, but my own views on Sarkeesian align almost exactly to yours, and I don't think I've seen anyone else express them as clearly. I do believe that her intentions are good and she has every right to state her beliefs without fear of harrassment. While I agree with some of what she says, I think that she cherry-picks examples that support her hypotheses. Anyone unfamiliar with games who watches her videos could mistakenly conclude that the whole medium is misogynist garbage (although clearly, at least a very small portion of it is).

    However, I'm not even sure that her method of choosing only examples to support her arguments is neccessarily wrong. That's pretty much how I (and I think most people) learned rhetoric myself. For example, like just about every other American high school student, I once had to write a paper on the symbolism of eyes in The Great Gatsby. If someone unfamiliar with the novel only read my essay, they would think the whole book was nothing but eyeball metaphors, when there's obviously more than just that going on. Again, it's how we're taught to make a point. So I'm not even sure myself if my biggest problem with Sarkeesian is valid.
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  • Avatar for boatie #50 boatie 3 years ago
    @bobservo Didn't mean to make you feel defensive, and I totally agree with what you said, I was just curious
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #51 VotesForCows 3 years ago
    @gillijack Thanks. I think it's important to look beyond the monitor to the rest of our lives. It all has an impact on how we perceive a game.

    Just realised my handle probably gives away my position on the animal thing...
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  • Avatar for Captain-Gonru #52 Captain-Gonru 3 years ago
    @hal9k@Kuni-Nino My rule of thumb with this sort of thing is to make sure I remember the position of the person or organization, and understand that they wouldn't be speaking out unless they saw a problem, regardless of whether or not I do. I find value in being reminded of the viewpoints of others. I could say the same thing about the NRA or PETA. I think we, as a society, need those opinions from the more polarized sides of debates, to help find a middle we can all begrudgingly live with, even if that means we in the middle have to do a little extra filtering of our own from time to time.
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  • Avatar for Mad-Mage #53 Mad-Mage 3 years ago
    @Captain-Gonru@hal9k@Kuni-Nino

    I love reading the comments on USG articles because most everyone is thoughtful, respectful, and has something worthwhile to say. I'm not sure exactly how Anita Sarkeesian entered this discussion, but I can't help but also remark on it because this is the first time and place I've read an opinion about her that I agree with.

    There are valid critiques of her approach to speaking about sexism in video games and those critiques can be made while still remaining a devout feminist who acknowledges that the video game medium as well as pretty much every society ever is still incredibly sexist against women, and that such sexism desperately needs to change. This is the only place I've felt safe stating that while I fully agree with Sarkeesian that ALL forms of entertainment need to strive to better represent women, I find her method of grabbing a bunch of video game footage from youtube and un-artfully condemning it without any context or for that matter even an understanding that not everyone views the world exactly the way she does, to be off-putting.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #54 SatelliteOfLove 3 years ago
    @Asintador

    Just let that soundtrack indoctrinate and brainwash you, and the pixelated head-splattering becomes all too easy...
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  • Avatar for seanmitchell #55 seanmitchell 3 years ago
    hmmm, well in most games i murder countless people and I'm pretty sure I'm against that in real life. so basically, i don't think about it. its a video game, the end.
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  • Avatar for Coldwine #56 Coldwine 3 years ago
    Good piece! The underlying bits that power our lives surface when playing games, too.
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  • Avatar for Scimarad #57 Scimarad 3 years ago
    I'm certainly no vegetarian but I still don't like Monster Hunter. When I tried to play it all I could think was "Er...what are these monsters doing to deserve death?". It just seems to be a game where you act like a dick for the hell of it to me...

    At least if you kill animals in Far Cry it's because the bastards are trying to kill you first!
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  • Avatar for Thusian #58 Thusian 3 years ago
    Can I just say that this is an awesome place for editorial. I hate to bring up all the nasty people who can't handle when sexist things in games they enjoy are pointed out get so upset. It is possible to both enjoy something and recognize parts of the content that are politically and morally complex. If people recognized you can say hey this game thing might make some people including myself uncomfortable, but it does not mean a person can't play it we would get traction. To be fare the main target for vitriol does mention this, but the other monsters that will remain nameless don't hear that because they've invested too much of themselves as a person in those titles so an attack on the game is an attack on the person.
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  • Avatar for DiscordInc #59 DiscordInc 2 years ago
    Reread this article after you recent MHX preview. Now that I've actually played Monster Hunter I really get where you're coming from. I don't feel bad fighting the big monsters since they are generally pretty scary until they start getting tired or limping. Then I feel bad for them, even though I got two carted because I got bleed status when I was at a quarter health and stunned. It really helps make the monsters more than just wandering murder machines
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  • Avatar for emilymunoz79 #60 emilymunoz79 2 years ago
    Hilariously enough, I'm a pescetarian as well and a huge fan of Monster Hunter.
    It gets me some pretty strange looks, like "why are you playing this if you don't want to hurt animals?" only to reply with a "have you ever played GTA where you kill countless civilians?" and have them realize what they've said.

    The secret to Monster Hunter for me is to completely detach yourself from the monsters, or hell, even see yourself as the enemy. I absolutely HATE killing smaller monsters (Popo and Aptonoth to be exact) and watch them flail around, to remind myself that it's just a game and no real animals are being harmed. It's a really fun series if you can get over that fact, but I understand if it's too much for you.
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  • Avatar for buckupprincess #61 buckupprincess 2 years ago
    That was a great article, Bob. I appreciate the perspective as a vegetarian and have never really thought of the 'monster removal is uncomfortable' standpoint. I've always treated video games as escapism (horror movies land here too) and tend to get sucked into systems and local multiplayer well before I think of my personal beliefs.
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  • Avatar for themblan #62 themblan 7 months ago
    I don't play GTA for the same reason.
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  • Avatar for TerryTrowbridge #63 TerryTrowbridge 7 months ago
    I play D&D with a girl that is about the same. We went into a town and she wanted to “free” all the animals.
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  • Avatar for UnskippableCutscene #64 UnskippableCutscene 7 months ago
    I love ya, Bob, but I do sort of have this "really?" response about this article as a whole that I can't shake out of my mind. As a person who hated Ocarina of Time and avoided several Zeldas thereafter because skulltulas were like shock therapy to my arachnophobic young mind, I empathize and kind of get where you're coming from. But also, games are written to appeal to the largest audience possible, and that means characters cooking beef and the occasional 20 foot long arachnid.
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  • Avatar for Ralek #65 Ralek 7 months ago
    I'm a pescetarian as well, but frankly, I can't say that I was ever bothered by any kind of meat-fetish (it's what people do, even if they can't or won't face up to it, it's absolutely a fetish in my experience for quite a fair majority) in games, or movies, or TV, or books.

    I think on an abstract level, it's an issue because media often legitimizes and normalizes the way we nowadays engage with our food - or for that matter refuse to engage, meaning it's just there .. somehow ... don't think about it ... just eat it. No, pigs are definitely no comparable to dogs or toddles in terms of inteligence or capabilities for pain or empathy ... no definitely not, I don't care for "scientists" ... those guys .. they uhm ... build atomic bombs and create super soliders to ... you'know kill us all ... and themselves and totally other stuff that's like ... uhm, I dunno, evil - shut up, I'm eating!

    I'm just glad that I have no problem telling fiction and reality apart, and as far as my personal life goes, I also have zero impetus to engage in missionary work. I for one want to get away with as much of a clear conscience as possible, avoiding cognitive dissonances whenever possible, so I act accordingly.

    Most people live just fine engaging in low-level sociopathy, by pretending that the animals that suffer and die for their sake every single day have no capacity for pain or feeling in general.

    As long as people can clearly draw a line betwen that "low level life forms", that just don't matter, and fellow human beings, I am ... well, "okay" with that. In general, I would welcome more empathy though, but it's hard to imagine when or how we could get there.

    Looking at it this way, maybe it would be start if we were to normalize other forms of engagement with animals, or food in general in games, and in media all-over. It's not about being preachy, god no, but you know, just slipping it in, tearing down those norms that grow out of repetition day after day, little by little.

    Killing a living being should always be a considerate act in the real world. The truth is, that it is anything but, and if anything, it's becoming less of a considerate act with every passing day. I don't want to rail against drones or anything, but we have become very adapt and turning killing into an abstract act. We can also never forget, that mankind did not just give birth to mass murder, but also to acts of industrially scaled and organized mass murder of human beings.

    Our lesson, our take-away, was to shift to the industrially scaled and organized mass murder of sentient beings, that we are so closely related to, that we feel comfortable giving them our life-saving medicines, even at the cost of rendering those same medicines ineffective for ourselves and our kids longterm, while also creating vast amounts of climate-changing emissions that cause ourselves and our kids all kinds of significant harm.

    Really not much more to say about this than that ... none of this is a good sign as far as our societal mental health is concerend, it's just NOT a sane thing to do, not at all.Edited 2 times. Last edited January 2018 by Ralek
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  • Avatar for donkeyintheforest #66 donkeyintheforest 7 months ago
    Really fun article! It's always interesting to see how people engage with animals and stuff. I think it's strange when people don't eat meat out of respect of animals, but are happy to keep animals locked indoors and without contact with another of their species for entertainment purposes. On the other hand, I have bounced around diets from eating meat, to eating meat from only predators, to being vegetarian, to being vegan, to eating only things that can be harvested without killing the plant (ie fruits from trees or dried grasses, but not uprooting things like root vegetables; an idea based loosely on aspects of Jainism), and back again. Respect everywhere on the scale.

    I actually stopped being vegetarian when I got a job as a fisher. I've killed more weight in meat than I could eat in a lifetime; but it was Alaskan wild salmon, probably the most sustainable meat in the world. Now that I've worked in another field for about 5 years , the veganism def sneaks back every once in a while.

    But back before, vegetarianism def affected my game playing at the time. I remember playing through Contact for DS ignoring the hamburgers and stuff in my inventory and only using vegetarian stuff to replenish my characters. BotW makes it pretty easy to be vegetarian too. Fun times.
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