Virtual Extinction: On the rhetoric of hunting and killing animals in open world video games

Erik van Ooijen


The article focuses on how violence against animals is represented in video games. Instead of studying the most outrageous visual representations, however, it focuses on the everyday aspects of animal violence manifested in the hunting mechanics of open world games. Taking a rhetorical approach, it considers the ideological functions implied by the procedural gameplay of the hunting element.

          The article addresses four main topics: how games represent the relationship between hunting, killing and crafting; construct implicit distinctions between human and non-human animals; separate species into juridical and ethical categories associated with different values; and deal with the algorithmic nature of representations of wildlife and extinction.

          Among the games discussed are Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption (2010), and Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed III (2012) and Far Cry 3 (2012).


Violence against animals;hunting;extinction;ideology;carnism;procedural rhetoric; Assassins Creed; Far Cry; Red Dead Redemption

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