Man's best friend has been with us through thick and thin, so why do developers feel the need to execute Fido if given the opportunity? The poor boys did nothing to deserve the ill-fate handed to them. And, as most animal people know, it's usually the fault of the handler or owner if a dog becomes violent or unpredictable. As close as we are to our furry friends, we still misunderstand each other despite our mutual affection towards each other. That doesn't stop either party from trying, and that's probably why we are reluctant to kill dogs in video games. Because we know deep down that every dog is a good boy or girl.
The Last of Us Part II is the latest perpetrator of this callous practice. In the teased gameplay, dogs are weapons used by NPC enemies to track down the player (Ellie) and attack them. Want to distract the dog? That'll work for a few moments– then the dog is back on your heels. The only option for players is to snipe the poor canines before they become puppy chow. And what's even more gut-wrenching? These dogs release a pathetic whimper before becoming lifeless corpses.
Like what the hell?
Dogs Are Used For Cheap Emotional "Impact"
According to developers, this was done to elicit empathy from players, but some probably feel like the anti-christ for putting an end to a dog that was probably once an innocent puppy. Tragically, there are other games that get a sick thrill from forcing players to kill canines. Who could forget the Mabari from the Dragon Age series? These hyper-intelligent war hounds are fiercely loyal companions in Thedas yet they aren't excused from the heartless truth of reality. There's even an entire sidequest in Origins that gives you the option of saving an ill Mabari after the poor creature accidentally consumes darkspawn blood. While players can save the dog if they so choose, they can also kill it, all while the frightened animal backs into a corner whimpering as the player draws their blade.
Attack Dogs Are Still Dogs
Remember Great Grey Wolf Sif from Dark Souls? Sure, he's a massive sword-wielding wolf, but still a canine nonetheless. Even when a pooch is a threatening boss battle, there is still something unnerving about putting an end to a non-malevolent creature that just feels wrong.
The Call of Duty series takes a similar approach to The Last of Us Part II when it comes to its portrayals of dogs. Aside from a few friendly dogs, most dogs are attack beasts and hindrances players must deal with to advance through the game, complete with the desperate whimpers the creatures emit before dying. Even if these animals are mindless killing machines, any dog lover (or anyone with a soul for that matter), would probably project their own experiences with dogs onto these AI creatures.
In short, developers please stop making us kill dogs in your games. When most people play games, they're looking for a reprieve from the cruel elements of reality. Coercing them into Old Yeller-ing man's most coveted companion probably isn't the best way to change their spirits. These days, pets are among the few things that bring people joy and unconditional love. Let's keep it that way, please?