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July 10, 2009

Yes, I clubbed baby seals

Posted: 10:18 AM ET

As a gamer for many years, I’ve had to kill monsters, demons, mutants, Sith and other virtual targets. But until now, I’ve never had to kill baby seals.

Blame the new video game, "Overlord II," which lets you become an evil ruler who is bent on taking over the world from the Empire (think Romans). When I started, I was a minor overlord with limited abilities and minions. To increase my strengths and horde of followers, I had to gather Life Force, which is released by baby seals as they die.

So I ordered my minions – small, goblin-like creatures that obey your every command - to club the cute, wide-eyed seal pups.

My initial thought was, 'Oh my God, I'm killing baby seals.' But after the initial shock, the attacks on the baby seals almost become amusing. The slaughter is not bloody or gory and is obviously conceived with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

I have to say, the minions are quite good at this task. They believe they are getting revenge for the fish the seals eat, which adds to the humor factor.

You might expect PETA or other animal-rights groups to be all riled up about this feature, which was not present in the first "Overlord" game. (Triumph Studios developed "Overlord II," which is rated T - meaning acceptable for teens.) Yet there's been hardly a peep online about the "mistreatment" of the seals.

I’m still early in the game, and I’m very curious to see if "Overlord II's" designers ramp up the “killing cute creatures” factor as I progress. Is that a litter of kittens I see on the horizon?

– Larry Frum

Filed under: video games

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Aaron   July 10th, 2009 11:11 am ET

That's enough to make me never play. Whoever though this was a good idea is a moron, period.

Elizabeth   July 10th, 2009 4:37 pm ET

Initially I wanted to leave an outraged comment because seriously the concept disgusts me (I'm not a gamer), but now that I'm thinking of it...I did thoroughly enjoy duck hunt and never fantasized about shootin' ducks in the real world.

Plus, the child-anvil comment was a good point. Whatever, it's not a creative/intelligent/ethical way to add dimention to the games but I suppose its nothing new..

Ozzy   July 10th, 2009 4:48 pm ET

If people are offended by this, they seriously need to lighten up. It's all farce...I mean, the game was written by Rhianna Pratchett (Terry Pratchett's daughter of Discworld fame), it's full of dry Python-esque British humor, and it's hilarious.

The hippy elves with their dreadlocks, surfer dude accents, and rasta caps are particularly funny (and fun to kill. 😉

boocat   July 10th, 2009 4:50 pm ET

Doesn't anbody know how to design a video game that doesn't involve killing? So much for the evolution of the species.

Luke   July 10th, 2009 4:53 pm ET

Nick is ok with killing pretend humans, but not pretend animals.

There is something wrong with Nick.

whatever   July 11th, 2009 11:09 pm ET

"Children today, so desensitized by movies and television..." The Grinch

Elizabeth   July 12th, 2009 7:09 am ET

Every single video game that involves killing should quite simply be banned.

Mike   July 12th, 2009 7:42 am ET

Yes, it's a game but the idea of getting enjoyment out of killing animals or humans is still repulsive.... you may say it's all a joke, or farce, or "just a game" but in reality playing such games is desensitizing the player to violence, murder and destruction. Children use play and games to learn how to deal with the real world, and a lot of that carries over. You don't have a brick wall in the brain that you can keep it all locked up behind. Playing these violent games changes your brain & your behavior, it affects how you deal with life in the real world, there's a bunch of studies that prove that.

Joe   July 12th, 2009 9:35 am ET

You shouldn't kill baby anything, i thought.

Betty   July 12th, 2009 10:22 am ET

I dont think Nick has a problem. The pretend humans are usually trying to kill you in the game, can't say the same about those pretend baby seals. Make a game with rabid zombie baby seals that are out for blood, and I'm sure Nick would kill them, too.

R.J.   July 12th, 2009 2:13 pm ET

I see nothing wrong with this video game if lame ass people want to get thier panties in a bind over this that there choice but for me even though I dont play this game, see's nothing wrong with it . All this P.C. crap is getting really stupid,poeple need to get a life and stop worring about what others are playing, listening to ,or watching ,its all about being able to choose ,if someone doesnt like it DONT PLAY but dont impose your moral or ideals on everyone else, doest anyone remember freedom to choose.

JACOB   July 12th, 2009 4:52 pm ET

ITS A GAME!!!!!!!!!!!! GET OVER IT. i did not serve in the marines for 4 years to be told i cant play a game where i can kill people or baby seals or whatever ells comes up. it falls on the parents to keep there kids in line y do u think there are age caps on everything, so tuchy feely people dont get exposed to the harsher side of the world, and trust me ive seen all of it. games can never give u the same feeling as realy killing some one i know first hand. i have played video games since i was able to walk. and not once i ever played a game killing video people that gave me the same sick feeling as it did when i was in iraq doing it for real in combat. we are free to do what we whant so long as no one goes doing these things for real. i still like to play games like GTA4 and COD4 becouse i know its not real its just fun.

Kate   July 12th, 2009 6:43 pm ET


marty   July 13th, 2009 8:21 am ET

Killing in video games should not be banned. If you don't agree with it then play a different game. Who are you to tell people what they can and can't play? You as in Elizabeth...

Move on to something else to complain about. Video games don't make people violent or abusive. The lack of parenting skills does that.

Slappy   July 13th, 2009 9:40 am ET

Take away video games where people kill and guess what? People will *IMAGINE* killing thing in their minds. I guess you want to take away imaginations too...

cyanideorchampagne   July 13th, 2009 11:44 am ET

Club sandwiches not seals!!!!

Matt L   July 13th, 2009 1:17 pm ET

Elizabeth, I am glad you have nothing to do with the management of the ESRB, and have no power to act upon such a knee-jerk, blanket assessment. I would no sooner have video games banned than I would have ANY form of art/entertainment banned. I don't enjoy pornography, for example, but I'm not going to mandate that it be banned because I don't like it.

I think the video game debate speaks to a larger problem. Video games are entertainment, plain and simple. They are not meant to be parental aids. They are not meant to be taken literally. They are not meant to be electronic babysitters. I grew up around video games, R-rated movies, Stephen King books and the like, and I turned out to be a generally well-adjusted individual. I credit that to my parents raising me with a good moral base and an overall knowledge of right and wrong.

JG   July 13th, 2009 1:27 pm ET

Cat murder can be caused by video games even before they're released. Who knew?

By the way, was this time-travelling video game also responsible for the pathology of Albert Fish, Ed Gein, and Ted Bundy? I'm just wondering.

Thomas   July 13th, 2009 1:46 pm ET

Did anyone else think of the movie UHF when they read this... "I am gonna club a baby seal to make a better deal!"

Awesome. And losers, lighten up.

CMiner   July 13th, 2009 2:05 pm ET

"Seriously. Put down your controllers and GO OUTSIDE. Read a book (especially those of you who are spelling-impaired, of which there are many). Help someone. Ride a bike. Call your grandma. Volunteer. Most of you “gamers” are pathetic creatures…"

So, someone who stays inside all day and reads is somehow better than someone who stays inside all day and plays video games? -Anything- done in excess can be bad. Eating. Reading. Exercising. Being outside.

The are plenty of gamers who are not the stereotypical hermits. Ones who raise millions for charities. Ones who have normal social lives. Ones who help develop technology that is being used to help recuperate hospital patients. Only a small percentage of 'gamers' that fall under the stereotype. They are simply the ones that get all the attention.

Just like there are people with legitimate concerns about video games that actually want to be informed about them, and don't always fall under the stereotype of assuming that the majority of gamers are 'pathetic'.

Jacob   July 13th, 2009 2:19 pm ET

Kate look you should never look at one groop of people and judge them all by a small hand full of people who realy have nothing ells in life going on for them. im a gamer and i do all those things, and served my nation during a time of war. gameing is just someting fun to pass time and to help some forget about whats going on around them just for a little bit. so grow up and stop liveing in a high school minde set cuting down people just becouse there not like you.

Alex   July 13th, 2009 6:09 pm ET

I view it as a good move on the part of PETA to stay away from this subject. Focus attention on preventing the unethical treatments that happens to REAL animals, rather than spend time, money, and effort worrying about virtual animals.

In addition, while Overlord II may bring killing baby seals to a new graphical prowress, this has been done in a few games previously. Notably, in Blizzard's Starcraft hit in 1996, one could make critters like sheep and seals blow up by clicking on them repeatedly and rapidly.

Wayne   July 14th, 2009 10:26 am ET

This is very sick !

Ben, Boston   July 14th, 2009 1:35 pm ET

This is twisted humor at its best. For those of you who think this is sick... you are probably right. But there is humor in it. Its social sarcasm. No one is gonna run to the nearest beach and club a seal. Its a joke. Get over it.

Phil   July 14th, 2009 5:30 pm ET

I think people who are concerned don't realize how over the top Overlord is. The minions cackle with a cartoonish voice as they praise the 'overlord' and do his bidding. They first encounter the baby seals as one is eating a fish. One of the minions goes "poor fishy!" and then they are sent to animatedly clobber the seals.

People never think of the violence against fish in these games. Also, in Castlevania, you eat a piece of meat to regain health. What about the poor digital cow that had to die to provide that powerup???

Harry in Concord, CA   July 14th, 2009 6:47 pm ET

Sounds pretty amusing. People who take this seriously need to relax. Its just a game. Speaking of which time for me to club some baby seals and make some sealskin coats.... BWHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA!

Dave   July 15th, 2009 6:12 am ET

I'm sorry, but people who are 'up in arms" just need to calm down.

I've been a gamer since I was 5yrs old. I got my first NES the year it came out, Christmas season, and have had game systems ever since.

I am happily married, successful (Engineer and also going to school again for my degree in Film Production), an avid outdoor person (sports, paintball, etc), and have a nice social life. I never stopped wanting those things because I like to play games (I still, to this day, have 2 game systems and a PC capable of playing the newest games).

People who 'follow' these types of things in real life have a predisposition already, generally speaking, and if it's not this it's going to be something. Someone will always say "I learned it from X item" and the media, and public, will jump on the hate-wagon.

It's a game. Plain and simple. You might as well ban the evening news for all the talk about negative happenings in the world. I'm sure someone saw that a bank robber got away, and decided to rob a bank and got caught. How about a kid who saw how cool the gun fights were in a classic movie, and decided to shoot a friend. Thing's like that will happen NO MATTER WHAT with the way the world is.

So until we're all living in society that has ZERO negativity it's always going to be something. I'm going to back to clubbing baby seals... in a game.

Kym in Naples   July 15th, 2009 9:39 am ET

I am not a 'gamer'. 1st person shooter games are not for me. I prefer the puzzle and problem-solving kind.
That being said, I am old enough that I grew up playing Atari and Intellivision and we killed things... Centipedes, Aliens (Space Invaders), Asteroids, Japanese Zeros (B-52) and I don't remember what we killed in Pitfall.
These types of games have been around for a long time, the graphics a just better. So is the sense of humor. I didn't 'play' Resident Evil, but the film adaptations were fun.
As much as I adore working on the 3 computers I currently have running... I also interact with actual human beings, I read books (the ones made of paper – no Kindle for me), I still don't like outside but you can't drive a car inside (don't tell the criminals – someone else tried it yesterday).
The trick is, all things in moderation.

Voice of Reason   July 15th, 2009 10:09 am ET

Playing these violent games changes your brain & your behavior, it affects how you deal with life in the real world, there’s a bunch of studies that prove that.


What a bunch of BS. Play one and tell me your behavior in the real world is any different. Until then you don't have a clue.

jason   July 15th, 2009 12:03 pm ET

@Kate 'Most of you “gamers” are pathetic creatures…'

Seriously? My masters says otherwise. I grew up on Atari/Nintendo/Sega/Playstation. I've been playing WoW for about 4 years now, trimmed down to roughly 10 hours a week (sans raid nights! L2YOGG); I'm working on my 2nd masters, I have an incredible family + a trophy wife (go me), I'm healthy and in very good shape, I build motorcycles in my spare time. I don't own a gun, I won't trek up north and beat down some baby seal; why? because there's a distinct line between reality and virtual reality, people understand this. Your children might not because I bet your kids are the coddled, narcissistic teenagers with a sense of entitlement that will fail horribly when they get out from under your wing and realize they know nothing about how the world ACTUALLY works.

who's pathetic?

your mom   July 15th, 2009 1:34 pm ET

this is AWSOME... i've hated baby seals for as long as i can remember!!! finally, it's my turn 😀

Starman   July 15th, 2009 2:29 pm ET

Sick, sick, sick. Does no one see the massive desensitization going on here, and where it can lead?

Irene, TX   July 15th, 2009 4:56 pm ET

Oh, so it does not change behavior? Quite a few posts show quite the opposite and their authors seem to be beyond repair. Kill and smile is normal these days. This is a normal joke. Wow, people can't even hear or comprehend what they say... Professional help needed on a national level. .

Jason, adult people may understand, they still remember what real life is, but kids who no longer read, or make real friends, or go see sunrise or sunset or fishing with their parents, don't have any pets etc, kids who stay inside heads in the monitors 24/7 – are you sure they all understand? Their numbers are growing rapidly, so rapidly it is scary...

Trey   July 15th, 2009 7:43 pm ET

I can't believe that all of you people are really raising hell about this. Get a life!

Michael B   July 16th, 2009 2:44 pm ET

After playing this game I definitely do have an urge to go way up north, purchase a club and find some seals.

Are you serious? For the past 20 years (since centipede) people have been killing insects. There has never been an uproar on insecticide. It's only because this game portraits seals as cute and cuddly, and people think seals are cute and cudly that PETA is upset.

Where were you when Centipede or Halo came out PETA? Or more obviously the game that is in thousands of bars accross the world, Deer Hunter....

PETA has too much time on their hands

john   July 20th, 2009 3:00 am ET

saying "it's pretend" is funny if you're Murphy Brown's actress saying it to Dan Quayle. All of the sudden it isn't so funny when the shoe is on the other foot and saying killing baby seals is pretend. Hypocrites...

Anonymous   August 7th, 2009 12:56 am ET

Was the designer of this game a supporter of anything non-Mac? It would explain alot because clubbing baby seals is the equivalent of giving Steve Jobs the finger on the internet.

I award the designer(s) of this game +over 9000 internets

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We live in a country where its perfectly normal to kill baby seals. If you are worried about it that much do something about the real seal killers before you complain about imaginary ones.

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