WHAT: “The Beautiful Creature Must Die,” an 8 bit-style browser-based video game in which players click on cows, pigs, chickens, and other delicious-but-living creatures to save them from the slaughter (all over a chiptune version of “Meat Is Murder,” naturally).
WHO: The game is a partnership between outspoken vegan Morrissey and animal rights organization PETA.
WHY WE CARE: There is a surprisingly robust history of rock bands in early video games. Journey starred in not one but two games in the early ’80s, while Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker thrilled hip teens at both the arcade and on the Sega Master System later that decade. In the early ’90s, Aerosmith made a shooting game for some reason, and named it Revolution X. During their active years, of course, The Smiths never reached anything close to the mainstream saturation enjoyed by Journey, MJ, or Aerosmith–but video games are cheap to make these days, and even easier to distribute. It makes sense that Morrissey, who is both one of the grimmer and more depressing humans alive and one of the more outspoken active recruiters to veganism around, would partner with PETA for a grim, depressing video game that urges people to veganism.
Weirdly, though, in addition to the novelty of “The Beautiful Creature Must Die,” the game is actually pretty well-designed. You play in your browser by clicking on animals descending toward the blades of a slaughterhouse to rescue them from being shipped off to your local grocer. Depending on the size of the animal, it takes more clicks to rescue ’em–a cow is harder to save than a chicken, apparently–and the game has four different blades whirling at a time, keeping things challenging and increasing the difficulty as it goes on. As games go, it may not be Pac-Man or Galaga, but it’s actually kind of fun, which it didn’t have to be in order to make its point. And, of course, because he’s Morrissey, the game’s star issued a press release to declare that his game is much more important than whatever other crap you’ve been playing this summer: “This game is the biggest social crusade of all, as we safeguard the weak and helpless from violent human aggression,” Morrissey wrote. “You don’t get that from Pokémon Go.“