Monster Hunter enters morally gray areas
When players step into the world of Monster Hunter, they enter an untamed area where gigantic creatures roam free. Some are openly hostile. Others are not. No matter their demeanor, people’s goals are to wipe them out. While this makes for exciting gameplay, it may get players thinking. While we often engage in positive actions in the Monster Hunter series, some actions within the game can be suspect.
The hunters in the Monster Hunter world are all members of a guild. They are regulated. You must register with a guild. You have to abide by their rules and guidelines. Certain monsters are actually endangered, and the guild works to help protect them by limiting hunts. The guild keeps unauthorized hunters from preying on creatures and upsetting the ecosystem. There is a sense of responsibility here. This governing body certainly seems like it has the best interests of innocent people, hunters and monsters at heart.
Of course, Monster Hunter: World does call all of this into question with its take on colonization. When the Research Commissions take hunters to the New World to find out why Elder Dragons take pilgrimages to the place, they start setting up camp and finding a place for themselves there. The First Fleet Commander decides everyone there is going to try and capture Zorah Magdaros, the current Elder Dragon making the Elder Crossing. Knowing how Elder Dragons can change entire ecosystems, the hunters make the decision to send Zorah Magdaros off to sea to die, an action that could create an entirely new landmass in the future. Once all of the campaign missions are done, the guild determines that now everyone is just going to stay where they are. Why? Manifest destiny, I suppose.
While the games do go out of their way to provide lore that assures people that the Hunter’s Guild prevents poaching and encourages living in peace with creatures, there are elements we have to consider. A major pastime in Monster Hunter games is accumulating enough materials to create a full suit of armor and a weapon. When I was attempting to create a full suit of Tobi-Kadachi armor in Monster Hunter: World, I ended up killing seven of them. That does not count the number I ended up fighting with friends to help them get specific bits and pieces or complete quests. That certainly sounds like overhunting and poaching to me.
Capturing enters a morally gray area too. Yes, you are taking the monsters in alive, but what kind of life awaits them? They may find themselves in the arena, waiting for you to fight them in an enclosed space and kill them. If you have captured them as part of an assignment, the group receiving the creature could very likely be killed, torn apart and experimented on by different organizations. It is like animal testing, only with Monster Hunter monsters.
Even the Monster Hunter Stories spin-off is not exempt. This is a game in which players are encouraged to invade monster dens, steal eggs from the nest and possibly murder the babies’ parents so they can come away with a creature they can raise and train to kill its own kind on your orders. And, since riders are not regulated in the same way the hunters are with the Hunter’s Guild, perhaps we could see a greater chance of possible abuse.
In both the real and virtual worlds, we have good people occasionally doing bad things and bad folks sometimes engaging in redeeming actions. In Monster Hunter, our hunters and riders may be portrayed as good guys. They are saving villages, keeping creatures from ruining ecosystems and taking on quests that could be bettering people’s lives. At the same time, the drive to complete equipment sets could be overhunting areas. The Hunter’s Guild endorses taking over land in Monster Hunter: World. The riders in Monster Hunter Stories are abducting eggs and killing parents. While we are attempting to do good, perhaps we should also occasionally stop to think about our actions in these games.
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