Welcome to Everything is Gaming, where I explore the intersection of video games and life. Today I’m writing about something that I’m pretty f***ing sure everyone should be on board with. But here we are, me shouting into the internet’s gaping, greedy maw while I make a case for something that seems like a no brainer: please, game developers, please stop making killable dogs in games.

What are we doing here folks? I mean come on. The world is on the brink of disaster, our civil rights are being chipped away at as billionaires get more billionaire-y and normal folks lose their homes. So why, in sweet gaming hell, would you design a game where you have to kill dogs? For the record, killing people is also bad. Pretty much top 5 or 6 worst things you can do when it comes down to it. But (most games) hinge on the fact that the people you’re mowing down are Bad Guys. They’ve made choices and sided with the wrong people. But the innocent pups that are feral or just lurking in the woods, their home mind you, they don’t deserve to get one-shotted with an arrow to the head.

Yes I’m including wolves in this, because in most games, they’re given hyper realistic yelp sounds when they die. And that is simply not cool.

Bethesda

Who is a good boy? It's you. Yes it is. You deserve to live forever.

A big part of the problem is the sound design. We’re spending time immersed in state of the art worlds and in a lot of ways, they’ve frankly gone too far. I don’t need to know the size of my horse’s testicles. I don’t need to see a goat sh*tting on the hillside. And I don’t need dogs to make an “I’m badly hurt” noise when they get hit with my broadsword. While developers may include a scream or blood soaked gurgle when you end a human NPC’s life, the pitiable yelp that you can mistake for your pet getting hurt is simply too visceral.  

Some of modern gaming is embracing animal friends in new and exciting ways, there’s a whole Twitter account “Can You Pet The Dog?” dedicated to sussing out in which games you can scritch man’s best friend. There are wholesome games like Animal Crossing with no combat at all that let you befriend and even give cool t-shirts to animal pals. More of this, less of a wolf’s dying gasps as it writhes on the ground with one HP left waiting for you to deal the final blow. 

Far Cry 6 has a slew of awesome and wacky animal companions that fight alongside you in your quest to free your homeland. Two of those are good boy pups and I couldn’t use either of them the whole game. In battles they’d get hit with bullets and yelp and make sad puppy noises. It was, as they say, a Major Bummer. So instead of getting to play around with their unique abilities and battle styles, I got stuck with a rock and roll chicken side kick. (Which I’ll admit, was also very cool.)

Ubisoft

Objectively rad, but not as cute as a dog.

I’m currently playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, a recent game in the series I love for its wild lore, awesome world building, and supremely satisfying combat; but I sure don’t love mowing down the guard dogs that they have in bandit camps and forts. “But Caro” you ask, “isn’t that realistic?” It’s not realistic to shoot four arrows out of a magical poison bow while you’re running backwards. It’s not realistic to plummet 100 feet into a bed of rose petals after jumping off of a statue and walk away unharmed. Video games shouldn’t be 100% realistic. If they were, walking would feel like moving through a nightmare and jumping would make you rage quit. The average game walking speed for a playable character is often well over 10 miles an hour. I don’t know how your calves are looking dear reader, but if I tried to walk 10 miles an hour for any sustained period of time, I would barf so hard. Too much realism in gaming can make said game less fun, so we don’t need to have accurate depictions of our four legged buddies' last gasps. 

Zombie dogs are no excuse. Any virus/government experiment gone wrong/magic that turns humans into decaying, ravenous-for-brains zombies doesn’t need to apply to dogs. Even if it would affect animals, you still don’t need to bring dogs into this. Make some zombie rats and let me kill them in revenge for running over my foot the first and last time I wore sandals in Brooklyn.

In research for writing this, I came across many other articles begging game designers to stop putting pups in the line of fire. So I’m adding my voice to theirs in hope that someday we will have a slightly better world where we don’t have to hear dogs meekly whine as they go to that great kennel in the sky. The only exception to this rule would be the dogs from the Paw Patrol because they’re cops. 

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