Trigger warning: Satire. Welcome to Tropes vs Wolves, where we investigate the game tropes and the games themselves that have led to the further diminishing and destruction of one of nature’s top predators – the Wolf. The belittling and hurtful use of the wolf in many of our gaming environments causes spill over into the real world, desensitizing us to the plight of this noble and courageous beast.
Video Games have many tropes and patterns within them, and while any individual game may not be a significant issue, the masses of games that utilize them are. Thus, we will discuss some of the problematic trends and tropes in some particularly troubling games that are damaging wolves and people alike.
We can start with games’ tendency to arrange foes in order of threats to make the game more entry friendly for the player. This is supposed to allow them to fight foes that are an appropriate challenge at the time. However, in games, typically animals are the lowest level of threat, followed often by humans, and then into supernatural or mechanical if games have those.
In World of Warcraft, wolves come invarious levels, but the grey wolf starts at level 1, a threat for low level characters, leading to a lack of respect from the game and its millions of subscribers. Blizzard’s reckless disregard will lead to less consideration for the wolf’s conservation status, as they are misrepresented as weak, unimportant, and numerous.
Experience points also clearly cater to the devaluation of the great wolf. In many games, the only way to acquire experience is to kill things. As we discussed above, the wolf is part of the animal clique that is often put at the low level when experience is most vital for players to start doing things. Thus, in many cases they begin to grind and kill many of the same creatures – such as the poor wolves in the area who get repeatedly murdered in the name of experience.
Aiding and abetting are the incredibly abundant Fetch Quests. These quests require you to get something and bring it back. In many cases, these quests ask for things such as 20 wolf pelts. Given that many of these games use random loot, it is often necessary to kill more than 20 wolves to get 20 pelts. Of course, the very idea that you should hunt wolves for pelts, and get rewarded for it, is yet another indication of how game tropes attack the noble and embattled wolf.
To illustrate some of these points and some others, I’ll use a few game examples here. Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magica Obsura is an older RPG that has wolves in it from the start. The first issue we should notice is that early on they have ailing wolves, and they are among some of the first things you fight. However, as the following Let’s Play by Chris Avellone shows, Arcanum did manage to capture the power of the wolf more thoroughly.
Even here there is an issue though. Setting wolves up this way can greatly increase agitation with them. Chris Avellone as he plays through Season 0, grows more and more frustrated with wolves and this may in fact lead to him taking it out on wolves in the future. That might happen to any gamer who gets into a frustrated situation like this, therefore causing further harm to the poor wolf.
A game that has a lot more wolf in it is the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. In this game the protagonist, Link, turns into a wolf when he goes into the twilight realm. While Wolf Link is powerful and useful, Link in the game is not happy to be this way and his first focus seems to be getting back to normal form. Seriously – you get to become the powerful predator with super jumping powers and scent and you want to be a boy again? What specieism!
Additionally, when in wolf form Midna rides Wolf Link. No wolf would actually suffer that, and this is further proof of the degradation of the wolf which this game promotes. To make matters worse, while he is Wolf Link, the people in the world react with fear. While this may seem appropriate, as a wolf is a fearsome predator, this makes the wolf form less useful and thus devalues the wolf in the players mind.
Link is in many ways just aping a wolf. He doesn’t live the life, have the proper behaviors, or the patterns that a proper predator as powerful as the wolf would have. People, and especially animals, are able to quickly identify him as Link in this form. This further mocks the wolf in a game that is supposed to be about empowering it. The whole game insults the wolf, and everyone who has played or seen it, has been exposed to its toxicity towards the great and valiant wolf.
Games degrade the wolf, and that roleplaying game or action game you are playing, is probably part of it. They put them out there in the early levels to be slaughtered en masse for the appeasement of players and the temporary power thrill of seeing them conquer a powerful predator. The wolf is often scorned in the games – and even those that try to portray it better are full of issues that must be addressed or else the moral fiber of our society as well as a great species will be destroyed.
I hope you enjoyed this article. I would like to remind you that it was satire and written firmly tongue in cheek. Tropes vs Wolves image is courtesy of Lucy Walcott and that formed the idea for this piece. If you’d like to see more great content – support TechRaptor on Patreon! We aren’t a non-profit but we are aiming to deliver you the best in games and tech news, reviews, and content!