I love dogs. So how come videogames are forcing me to kill so many?
Hotline Miami (2012, PC)
These dogs are nasty. In a game that moves at breakneck pace, the dogs are the fastest and meanest things around. Fists won't do, you need at least a melee weapon to put one down. After your first 50 runs on a level are thwarted by one, you will start to HATE them. After the next 50, you will be actively pleased whenever you kill one. This is what Hotline Miami does to you – it moves so fast that it bypasses rational thought, where concerns over your sickening ultraviolence would reside, and goes straight to the lizard-brain, the part of us that needs to see all threats neutralised now now NOW. And I assure you, the dogs are the number one threat.
Dishonored (2012, Xbox 360/PS3/PC)
This one is a dog-hater's dream. First off, your base of of operations a pub called The Hound's Pit, which doubles as Dunwall's premier hotspot for dogfighting. Although you don't get to see any official dogfighting in the game, rest assured you will be engaging in plenty of impromptu dogfighting. The dogs that patrol with guards are sleek but vicious creatures, almost reptilian, and are notably anti-social and pro-ripping-your-throat-out. It’s interesting that in a game which gives you the option (and actively encourages you) to play non-lethally, dog kills don't count. You can merrily murder every dog you can find, and still walk away from the game with a “Clean Hands” achievement. All of which begs the question – what have dogs ever done to Arkane Studios?
Far Cry 3 (2012, Xbox 360/PS3/PC)
Jesus, the number of animals I have slaughtered in this game. I'm a one-man safari factory. There are scores of species of animals populating Rakyat island, and thanks to an essential crafting system the game encourages you to shoot every last one of them in the face. It's basically a Teddy Roosevelt simulator. As for the dogs, the game does go to great length to explain that any dogs you see are rabid, and therefore killing them is absolutely fine. I note it didn't make similar excuses for any of the endangered cassowaries I took out.
Heroes of Might & Magic 3 (1999, PC)
Well, they were Hellhounds. But Hellhounds are still hounds, I suppose.
Mark of the Ninja (2012, Xbox 360/PC)
“Hounds Slumber” is the fancy name that Klei's excellent stealth game gives to smacking a dog in the back of the head. The thing is, if you're rubbish, you end up slashing at the dog seventeen times with your sword before it falls over. Even if this happens, the game still flashes up “Hound's Slumber”, as if you stabbing a dog repeatedly with a katana has merely made it faint dead away. “He's just sleeping”, you tell your delusional self. And on you blunder to murder more dogs. Such is the way of the ninja.