250: Garden of Brutality

Garden of Brutality

It's easy to see the vivid paper animals in Viva Piņata as childish, but beneath their bright colors lays a brutal history. Humans began very close to the land and the death and sex of animals was integral to our lives. Ryan Lambie explores how a game brings its audience back to a more primal time.

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I remember with crystal clarity the moment when my beloved chicken, Camilla, fell victim to a wandering fox. Either my previous pinata had somehow managed to dodge predators, or it had simply happened while I wasn't watching, because she was the first one I was conscious of losing. I was heartbroken, but more, I was pissed at that Pretztail. He danced joyously as he changed color and joined my garden, the smug bastard.

It's a deceptively engaging game, is what I'm saying.

Susan Arendt:
I remember with crystal clarity the moment when my beloved chicken, Camilla, fell victim to a wandering fox. Either my previous pinata had somehow managed to dodge predators, or it had simply happened while I wasn't watching, because she was the first one I was conscious of losing. I was heartbroken, but more, I was pissed at that Pretztail. He danced joyously as he changed color and joined my garden, the smug bastard.

The same thing happened to me the other day, except the victim was my bunnycomb which I had spent ages on turning pink :(

I remember showing this game to my girlfriend. She thought it was cute until I noticed that stupid bat creeping onto my property and bludgeoned it with the shovel, like I had done so many times before. She was horrified.

Later I showed her that I had recruited the bat to be a good pinata and live in peace with his fellows, and she called me a British colonialist.

The term "brutality" keeps coming up in this, but I don't see how any of this is really brutal unless your a dedicated vegetarian. Kids have also been growing up on farms pretty much forever, and still do. I suppose if your a sheltered "coast liberal" in the cities of suburbs this might seem surprising or shocking, but even then it's pushing it.

To put things into perspective, food does not magically appear in stores. All of it is produced by people, usually towards the middle of the country in the areas scornfully referred to "flyover states". The people who do this have kids too, and despite the changing nature of farming, a lot of the kids still do get involved and/or have an awareness of what their parents do and what happens on a farm.

As far as clubbing newts and such goes, depending on where you are, relatively little kids might very much routinely run around with .22 rifles and shoot varmits of various sorts. In some places kids even run around, shoot squirrels, fill up bags, and then cook the things with their friends. :P

That said, I'll also say that while I'm not a massive conspiricy theorist, I sometimes wonder about the commonly held beliefs about primitive man. Largely because I look at how long things like cheese have been around, if you look at how you make cheese you'll notice that it requires a specific enzyme to be used which occurs in a calf's stomach. I can't see a bunch of people randomly experimenting with mixing slaughtered cow parts with milk for yucks, especially seeing as the entire process isn't something likely to be discovered by chance anyway.

There are a lot of little things like this that lead me to believe that someone must have taught early man some things. So while I'm not jumping to massive conclusions about aliens and such, I do think there are a lot of pieces of the puzzle missing. I consider questions like where the knowlege to make cheese came from (there are theories, but most of them wind up being in adequete for one reason or another) to be more compelling 'evidence' of us missing key elements of humanity's early days and origins than pictures of what might be ancient space ships, or someone rambling on about god (since I don't believe anyone ever claimed Angels taught humans how to make cheese or whatever).

At well, enough rambling.

The bottom line is that I don't consider the elements of Viva Pinata mentioned above to be dark at all. If anything I think it points out that some children are waaaay too sheltered especially compared to many times in history where almost everyone was a farmer.

wow...I love games with a philosophy of sorts, so I will definitely try it during the Summer break

Clemenstation:
I remember showing this game to my girlfriend. She thought it was cute until I noticed that stupid bat creeping onto my property and bludgeoned it with the shovel, like I had done so many times before. She was horrified.

Later I showed her that I had recruited the bat to be a good pinata and live in peace with his fellows, and she called me a British colonialist.

the fact that this type of conversation happened is a HUGE social commentary about humankind. Props to RARE on this one. :)

Susan Arendt:
I remember with crystal clarity the moment when my beloved chicken, Camilla, fell victim to a wandering fox.

A Muppets fan, I see... ;)

On topic: I've never been overly interested in games like Viva Pinata. As a mini-game (as part of a much larger game experience) this type of activity works just fine, but as a stand-alone, the appeal is lost on an old jaded gamer like myself.

Although not exactly the same game (but in the same category, more or less), my wife did try Harvest Moon a few years ago. She was rather underwhelmed (as was I) by the sheer tedium of every exercise.

For the record: My wife grows tomatoes and radishes on our tiny balcony during the summer months; my thumb is not green, in the slightest.

I might just have to give this game a shot.

Have never played it before but it sounds interesting.

We humans consume around 50 tons of beef every single year.

Where did you get that figure? For a single person to eat that much beef sounds impossible, but for the entire human population it seems very little... or is it one of those conversion things, where metric me thinks you mean 50 000 kilograms, but you really mean some other kind of much larger ton?

I have to try this game, it sounds much deeper than I thought it was.

Ugh, those sour Pinata's were a pain, as were those meanies with the big masks whose names I can't remember. Still it was a fun little game, even though some animals we're ridiculously hard to breed. I recall having a lot of trouble convincing 2 of those purple pigs to get it on.

I'm currently playing the sequel, trouble in paradise, I love this game, it's obviously tailored for kids, but there's something deep about it. spending hours getting the right conditions for a tiger, or gorilla to even visit the garden, is awesome, and very satisfying when you finally make it a resident, and then begins the whole romance issue, some of the romance videos are quite funny, my favorite is the Taffly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAx4DH4ziMc

xD

I found this game like Simcity honestly, but with a more personal undertone. Disasters happen, you build up from nothing, you have people of all diffrent backgrounds come in, they fight, they die, they live, they die, and all the while you make sure everything is status quo so that everything can work smoothly.

This was a very well done article. Bravo.

Oh wow! I'd nearly forgotten how much I miss this game, I have both (1&2) - I think I like the second one just a tad more.

What a great article and so to the point, I'd have to agree with what's said. It's a deeply involved and, even, addicting game. I too remember when one of my favorite 'Chickens' who I had named "Cpt Clukkles" got quite sick and died shortly there after. I was not able to get the doctor in time since I have only moments before used his help with a few sick bunnycombs. It was tragic, I swear! But Cpt Clukkles was survived by his son, Clukkles Jr. Ahh, no chicken ever worn a monical and top hot the way he did....

I couldn't agree more. I had a worm, the first pinata to come to my garden in fact. it survived for a year, even through a great war between badgers and worms(which I solved by building lanterns and lighting them when the badgers came. god damn those badgers), but it soon got sick from an unknown cause(I called it veterans flu), and I soon had to put it out of it's misery. that was the saddest part of any game I have ever played. not Dom ending his wife, not learning that the love in Braid was one sided, but having to kill a pinata worm.

Clemenstation:
Later I showed her that I had recruited the bat to be a good pinata and live in peace with his fellows, and she called me a British colonialist.

Ha, awesome! Tell your girlfriend she has an internet fan. Uh, try to tell it in a way she won't feel inclined to call the cops on me.

If that's the case then does monster hunter tri also meet these standards after all there nothing more primal that hunting, killing, and harvest vital part to make weapon,armors,etc from dangerous creatures.

Man I remember playing this game a little bit after it came out. One of my friends rented it and I laughed my ass off at him when I first saw that he rented it. Then he wanted to play Halo (which I couldn't stand) so I had brought my Xbox over as well and I popped it into my disc drive and played it thinking it was going to be retarded for the entire first hour, then it was one of my favorite games for a while. Still have that game pop into my head every once and a while now.

Susan Arendt:
I was pissed at that Pretztail.

you should be happy that you have a pretztail in your garden! i love dem lil buggers.
but yeah it's a interesting game which i have only been able to play at a friends house.
due to that i've only seen the cute and cuddly side of it though.
(all hail the hypnotoad pretztail)

ravensshade:

Susan Arendt:
I was pissed at that Pretztail.

you should be happy that you have a pretztail in your garden! i love dem lil buggers.
but yeah it's a interesting game which i have only been able to play at a friends house.
due to that i've only seen the cute and cuddly side of it though.
(all hail the hypnotoad pretztail)

I do enjoy them (and turn them blue), but I love the Macaraccoons even more. The sound they make as they scurry around is just too adorable. Also inordinately fond of the Quackberries. So. Cute.

Thank you from 2006.

Brilliant article. I have never played Viva but Im interested to see it, although now I will be playing it with a sinister atmosphere in mind.

Remembers me off my uncle's farm where all the workers hate snakes. But one off them gets really pissed when someone kills a "Limpa-Campo"(field cleaner) one specie that feeds on another snakes:

"Can't these ignorants tell the difference between them?" he says.

I thought similar things when the game came out:

http://frankcaron.com/Flog/comic.php?cnum=13

Mentioned this before, and, will continue to do so every time a topic on Viva Pinata comes up...but, I had the misfortune of having a Sour Shellybean enter my garden, this was, around the time I had just started playing. So, working under the impression that the red and black Pinatas were the bad guys, I took decisive action.

So equipped with my shovel I beat the Shellybean several times, till it lay on the grass, gasping in it's death throes. Then...before I made the final strike to end it all, the creature began to emit the most piteous, heart-wrenching wail. I got that awful feeling in my gut, eyes pricked with tears. I had done something monstrous. I tried desperately to do something, to fix the situation. But to no avail, the doctor would not come, after all, this was not one of my pinatas... In the end I did the only thing I could. I silenced it. Put it out of it's misery with a single swing of my bladed implement.

Excellent article though!

I'm half convinced that Viva Pinata isn't actually intended for children, it just happens to have the most condescending voice actress in the world.

You'd think something about Snake Eater would be good to mention here..

 

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