In a bold (but not unheard-of) strategy, the animal rights group recently launched its own “animal utopia” on Minecraft. The game server includes a full re-creation of PETA’s headquarters.
The staff of Associations Now can guarantee that no animals were harmed in the making of this virtual office.
And People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wouldn’t have it any other way. On Saturday, the animal-rights group, which is known for its offbeat take on marketing, has launched an “animal utopia”—a Minecraft server that PETA officials promise will keep virtual animals safe too.
“Visitors to PETA’s custom-made digital island can explore vast expanses of landscapes where the animals of Minecraft roam free,” PETA stated in a blog post.
The server contains a few buildings of note: a re-creation of the organization’s headquarters, an abandoned slaughterhouse, and a circus called the “Saddest Show on Earth.” The landscape, built with the help of Minecraft designers at Hyperscale, uses plug-ins and add-ons to add relevant links to videos and websites throughout the virtual world:
Joel Bartlett, PETA’s director of marketing innovation, noted that the group developed the virtual world because that’s where many of its supporters are.
“PETA has heard from many of our supporters who love Minecraft as much as they care about the good treatment of animals,” Bartlett told Polygon. “They said they would like to have an animal-friendly server inside their favorite world.”
As such, traditional attack functions used in Minecraft will be turned off to ensure that no digital animals are harmed on PETA’s server.
PETA Gets Gaming
This is not the first time that the animal-rights group has used gaming to promote its message.
In the past, PETA has released Flash-based parodies of Nintendo games—”Super Chick Sisters,” “Mario Kills Tanooki,” and “Pokémon Black & Blue“—to critique the way that animals are portrayed in video games.
In addition, PETA has drawn attention to portrayals of animal violence in games, calling out the depiction of whaling in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and making a pitch for better treatment of extraterrestrial Zerglings in StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm.
While it wouldn’t work for everyone, Bartlett noted that the Minecraft strategy is a good fit for PETA, which isn’t afraid of pulling stunts to help spread its messages virally.
“Our games are some of the most popular items on our website,” he told Polygon. “Millions of people have played PETA’s parody games and then watched the hard-hitting videos we include. It’s definitely been an amazing way to engage with an audience about a difficult-to-talk-about issue.”