As first reported by Telegraph.co.uk, the PS2 and Xbox game Whiplash is coming under fire from all sides in the UK ahead of its release next week. Developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Eidos, Whiplash is a platform game in which players assume the role of a shackled animal duo attempting to escape from and sabotage a fictional animal product-testing corporation named Genron.
In a recent statement, Eidos claimed that it had hoped the release of Whiplash would help to raise positive awareness about animal testing among children, but the game has already come under attack from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), the Research Defense Society, the chairman of the House of Commons select committee on science and technology, and even the Police Federation. Among other things, the game has been criticized for condoning violence and for making a joke of animal suffering.
"This is unhelpful to the whole debate. It is a nasty and vicious way of prejudicing young minds for the rest of their lives," said Dr. Ian Gibson, a Labour MP and the chairman of the House of Commons select committee on science and technology. "Young people with fresh minds need to be brought into an understanding of the problem with both sides of the argument being put forward in a rational and reasonable way. Clearly such programs are not bringing a balanced judgment to serious and difficult areas of understanding."
"This game is both alarming and disturbing," added Jan Berry, the chairman of the Police Federation. "The role of the police service is to be independent, uphold the law, and prevent disorder. We already have a tough enough job, and this game seems to be sending the wrong message to young people, which is totally irresponsible."
Concerns over militant animal rights campaigners reached a peak in the UK recently when harassment from activists forced Cambridge University to shelve its plans for a 32-million-pound (about $61 million) monkey research center. In the game, players assuming the roles of a long-tailed weasel and a California white rabbit that have been subjected to cruel experiments are encouraged to bring Genron to its knees by smashing up all of its equipment, including soda machines, computers, and treadmills used to test the endurance of monkeys.
For more information on Whiplash, which has been available in North America since November, check out our full review of the game.