Keeping video game chickens August 10, 2012
Video game chickens are rather maligned creatures. Have you ever stopped to think how many video game chickens there are? I believe it probably started with Zelda. Remember that game? The chickens in Zelda were called cuccos, and Link could grab their legs to have them fly him around in a limited way… or he could toss them. All they wanted to do was mind their business.
However, if Link attacked one of the video game chickens repeatedly, all the cuccos in the area would band together and attack like he was a pixelated Tippi Hedren. Bad, Link! Bad!
Mind you, killing video game chickens wasn’t really a part of the main plot of Zelda, and I suspect their furious Hitchcockian attack response was meant to encourage players NOT to randomly attack them. Still, I feel like somehow the cuccos were the impetus for the creation of a lot of more modern video game birds.
There are also games specifically geared to killing chickens, like Chicken Blaster for Wii. In that game, you play a farmer trying to shoot or blow up all the chickens on your farm. You can use shot guns, rocket launchers, dynamite and all sorts of crazy weapons. I admit I don’t really see the appeal of this, but I don’t like shooter games in general, probably because I’m not especially interested in working on increasing my speed and reducing my reaction time with a joystick.
To be clear, I don’t play video games that often—I have other geeky things to do—but when I do, I enjoy them. I don’t think video games will somehow cause anyone who’s not already insane to go out and abuse real chickens for the joy of the chaos. That’s not it, not for me. But I do find prevalence of killing chickens in video games a little puzzling. I mean, get this: Wii also has a second chicken killing game, Chicken Riot. Really? TWO chicken shooting games for the Wii? It has to make you wonder… why are Wii users so into killing video game chickens?
These are things a geek girl sits up at night wondering.
Me, I enjoy playing the occasional video game as I said, but I prefer to play characters who save the land/planet/universe and end up as heroes. Heroes don’t kill defenseless animals, right? There’s still plenty of shooting or sword play. It’s just that I prefer to fight undead things, rampaging dragons, hardened bandits, dastardly sith, evil necromancers and so on. Chickens, not so much. I never bothered the chickens in Fable, either.
Luckily, my husband appreciates my aesthetic—or at least he’s amused by it. His favorite story is recent, and occurred while I was playing Skyrim. My character owned a house with chickens in the garden, and he was watching me play.
“Look,” I said. “I have chickens in Riften, too.”
“Not much of a coop,” he groused. He was only half watching, his attention diverted by a magazine… but after another few moments of my playing, he suddenly looked up, full attention engaged. “Did I just see you do that?” he asked.
“Did you just drop a loaf of bread in the garden for your chickens?!”
“Yes,” I said. “The game doesn’t actually allow you to feed them, but I’m role-playing. After a few days, the bread will be gone and I’ll drop something else. Maybe wheat. They have snowberries in the garden if they get hungry in the mean time.”
Oh. Ye. Gods. He laughed like crazy.
I will never live that down. But I would do it again, HA!
Skyrim chickens aren’t your everyday sort of chicken, anyway. For instance, their eggs can be used in the creation of magic potions, Even cooler, the video game chickens in Skyrim once even had the ability to report crimes to the city guard. Police chickens! That bug was fixed, but I have to admit that I wish Skyrim chickens were still a part of the neighborhood watch. Even though the chickens in Skyrim are no longer reporting crimes, Skyrim’s farmers will. They don’t take kindly to the death of their livestock, and the townsfolk will attack if you hurt a chicken. If you don’t surrender, you can actually get jail time, or have to pay a fine for molesting someone’s chickens. I’m glad game designers assign consequences for that sort of thing. And I love my chickens in Riften, even if the designers forgot to put nests around so I could gather eggs. Then again, I suppose when I’m playing, I’m usually too busy fighting dragons and vampires to do daily egg gathering.
If you don’t care for violence, there are a few other games with video game chickens (or chicken eggs) that don’t require or even allow violence. I especially like the flash games of Orisinal. One is called “The Hatchings,” and the object is, more or less, to lay and hatch as many eggs as possible.
Another Orisinal game is called “Chicken Wings are not for flying,” wherein the object is to try to save baby chicks from falling, and there is also “The Amazing Daredozen,” which requires far more hand-eye coordination to move eggs than I possess. Finally, one of my favorites is “The Pond“—about feeding ducks, not chickens–but which I like nonetheless. Orisinal games are more like “art” games than video games, with soothing music, pretty outdoor backgrounds and cutesy animals. The Pond somehow reminds me of going to the city park with my grandparents to feed the ducks when I was little.
These little flash games don’t compare in long term entertainment value to massive RPGs like Skyrim… but they can be fun, and it’s nice to know there are a few games out there that aren’t so dark.
What it boils down to is that there are lots and lots of video game chickens (and ducks, and eggs) out there. My first thought for this post was to try to create a list of all the video games that included them… but I realized after poking around a bit that there are just way too many, so we’ll need your help. What other video game chickens would you like to share… Mort the Chicken? FarmVille? There are a LOT of video game chickens out there–please help us collect them by listing your favorite in the comments!