People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is at it again, this time with a cheap little Flash game meant to highlight the unpleasantness of Canada's infamous annual seal hunt.
The seal hunt in Canada gets a lot of bad press. Regardless of whether or not the methods are humane or the conservation principles behind the hunt are sound, there's just no getting around the fact that people don't like pictures of big, unshaven Newfies clubbing adorable little baby harp seals to death with gaffs. But with the Winter Olympics just around the corner, PETA is hoping to amp things up a bit by launching a campaign it hopes will convince the Vancouver Olympic Committee to "use its clout" to stop the slaughter.
As part of that effort, PETA has released Seal Slalom, a game in which players control a smiling little seal in a bright red touque as he rides down a snowy hill, avoiding trees, snowmen and of course the angry, club-wielding sealers. If we can say so without becoming overly embroiled in the debate over the seal hunt, this game is truly awful. The obstacles are so tightly packed as to be unavoidable, but that doesn't really matter because if you hit any of them, sealers included, you simply come to a halt until you steer away from it. No points are scored and the game appears to run forever or until you get sick of it and go do something else, whichever comes first.
To put it bluntly, PETA has disappointed me. PETA hit one out of the park last year with Mama Kills Animals, a hilarious, blood-soaked parody of the famous Cooking Mama series in which players beat the sweet holy hell out of a hapless dead turkey. What it lacked in gameplay it more than made up for in personality, as a psychotically-violent, knife-wielding Mama screamed at players for not being mean enough to their food. Seal Slalom, on the other hand, has no such redeeming characteristics. It's just really, painfully boring.
Fair warning to parents while we're at it: Small children might find this game amusing for a minute or two but you might want to exercise some caution about letting them poke around on PETA's OlympicShame2010.com website. The introductory video with the brightly-colored animated characters quickly gives way to live-action footage of seals getting their brains bashed in. Probably not the sort of thing you want to have to explain to your kids on Christmas eve.