Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Dead goat anyone?

I feel I’ve been quite ranty of late in the blog, but I read something else today which really just beggars belief.

In promoting their new game “God of War II” for the PlayStation 2, Sony have sparked a huge row over animal cruelty and the ethics of the computer industry once again. Using the decapitated corpse of a freshly slaughtered goat as the centrepiece of the launch party for the game, guests were invited to eat warm offal from the goat’s stomach. OK, so I’m not a vegetarian so I can’t really get on my high horse, but eating warm offal from a dead goat’s stomach is a stunt too far. It’s gruesome and disgusting.

At the event guests competed to see who could eat the most offal. The goat was purchased from a local Greek butcher and had not been slaughtered especially for the event and the offal was obtained elsewhere, only meant to resemble goat’s intestines. However, the end result was obviously very real. Other activities the guests could take part in included throwing knives at targets, pulling live snakes from a pit with their bare hands, being fed grapes by topless girls and being handed garlands by a male model portraying the game’s hero Kratos. Hmmm, I wonder why people seem to have had a problem with this?

A number of critics have slammed the entertainment company calling the “sacrifice” grotesque and condemning their “blood lust”. It has also highlighted the concerns over the ethics of the computer industry with regards to game content and the industry’s exploitation of young gamers.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare in particular found it "outrageous" that an animal’s death had been used "to sell a few computer games". Their spokesman stated, "We are always opposed to any senseless killing of an animal and this sounds like a gruesome death. We condemn Sony’s actions. It is stupid and completely unjustified."

I think it would be fair enough if you were catching an animal to cook yourself. You would have to kill it and take out its insides. And as a meat eater I am probably being a little bit of a hypocrite. But Sony were not out in the wilds catching and cooking their own food, they used a dead animal to promote a game. That’s just sick.

The party was set to feature across two pages of the next edition of the PlayStation magazine, which should have hit the shelves today, but had already been sent to subscribers. There, the above picture was shown in its full glory (or should that be gory?) alongside text such as "How about eating still warm intestines uncoiled from the carcass of a freshly slaughtered goat? At the party to celebrate God Of War II’s European release, members of the Press were invited to do just that..." After the Mail on Sunday contacted the company however, an apology was made for the stunt and the entire print run of the magazine was recalled. What of those magazines already sent out however, will Sony ask for them back? Will they appear on e-bay for a large sum?

I’m not going to start arguing about the content of video games. As with violent films, although there is some evidence to support the detrimental effect they have on their viewers, many people still manage to play the games and watch the films without turning into murderers. However, pulling off a stunt such as Sony’s to promote these games is, in my opinion, disgusting and completely devoid of any thought by the company of its possible consequences.

Will customers boycott their other products? That remains to be seen. Sony have stated that they "are conducting an internal inquiry into aspects of the event in order to learn from the occurrence and put into place measures to ensure that this does not happen again." Like a terrible idea detector? How this idea ever got so far as a full-scale, high profile event seems incredible to me. Dead animal with some fresh warm offal inside, half-naked women, live snakes, knife throwing - anything wrong with this picture? Maybe next time they could also throw an orgy and some shark diving in for good measure.

Full marks to Sony on relevance, and as I’ve said before, if a publicity stunt is relative to what it is trying to sell, it can be extremely effective. But come on, did they ever think they would get away with it?

To view the article on the launch party and its repercussions in the Daily Mail click

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