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Why was the chicken put in the video game?

Why did the chicken get included in the video game? Gamers at one of the world’s biggest gaming events will find out the answer from one of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s leading computer ethicists.

INSETresident evil chickens
Chickens in Resident Evil

Dr Catherine Flick, of DMU’s Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility, is flying out to PAX East in Boston, USA, which is attended by tens of thousands of gaming enthusiasts. She will be presenting one of her “most downloaded” papers which looks at the often bloody fate of chickens in gaming. It was written with University of Leicester zooarchaeologist Dr Tyr Fothergill.

Chickens feature in far more games than you might think - and often in surprising ways! Not only can you kick, punch, breed, race, chase, bash, mash, cook, eat, and shoot chickens in games, but these activities directly relate to modern and ancient human-chicken relationships with a fascinating history.

They studied 55 video games from Zelda to Minecraft, Resident Evil to Call of Duty as well as the surprising number of blog posts and forums discussing the issue online.

Dr Flick said: “It’s a fun talk, but it also makes people think about their relationships with games and why violence towards animals in games is seen as entertainment, and portrayed as something we should find funny.”       

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PAX East – described as a ‘celebration of gamer culture’ – is a mix of game launches, tournaments, exhibition booths, concerts and keynote speeches. It is the fourth time that Dr Flick has been able to attend.

Her “Ask The Ethicist” booth is now a regular feature at the festival and a popular space for gamers to go and ask the questions they want and discuss issues in gaming. 

Thanks to her conversations over the past four years, Dr Flick has been able to collate research on people’s experiences of gaming which has included moving stories of people’s connections to their favourite games – including the story of how gaming helped one sister connect to her autistic sibling and how playing online games together has led to lifelong friendships.

PAX East starts on Friday and runs until Sunday, March 12. For more details on the event, click here.
Posted on Friday 10th March 2017

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