A-hur, a-hur … FURRIES!

Ailin Biker Girl by Jesonite

Last week the 2D platform/action game, Dust: An Elysian Tail, came out.  By most accounts it’s a very good game.  Sadly, I don’t have an XBOX 360 so I won’t get to play it.

One particularly annoying aspect of the game coverage, however, was various writers’ insistence on deriding the title as being “furry.”  The reviewers have resorted to simply making the reference in place of having anything funny or insightful to add to their review; it’s shorthand for not bothering to have a punchline. The reviewer for Eurogamer was so at a loss for having anything to say that he wrote “furries,” a one-word sentence, as the opening for his trite review.  Destructoid’s Jim Sterling, gave a relatively even-handed review however even he felt the need to address the “furriness” of the title (although his focus was on how gamers should try to look past that, as though it was something that needed to be looked past.)  Nonetheless, writers’ apparent need to mention furries in relation to the game has done a good enough job of poisoning the public’s perception of the title. I’ve actually been unfortunate enough to see one of my Facebook friends wonder aloud in a status update whether he should dare to try Elysian because while the 2D gameplay appealed to him he found the furriness too off-putting.

So I asked him why this game should be any more potentially objectionable than games from when we were younger; Battletoads, Donkey Kong Country, Sonic the Hedgehog, Starfox, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The question went over his head; he’d apparently never realized that “furry” is hardly a new concept.

Maybe in the past it lacked a proper name.  Disney movies tended to include “talking animals” of varying levels of humanness (Fox & the Hound vs Robin Hood … hey that brings up a mess of other furry NES games like Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers and DuckTales) but there wasn’t an all-encompassing umbrella by which to refer to them (aside from the too scientific-sounding “anthropomorphic.”)  Maybe it’s this disconnect  in most peoples’ minds that leads to this bizarre double-standard where anything old and “furry” can’t be “furry” because “furry” only refers to objectionable things that started with the Internet. Also, thanks to people using “furry” as just a punchline, people can’t distinguish between the perfectly acceptable aspects of “furry” and the more questionable ones.  This is unfortunate, as now a well-made game that happens to have anthropomorphic characters in it–which again is nothing new or objectionable to anyone who can remember further back than a handful of years–will be dismissed by numerous potential customers because the reviewers and others who wrote about the game decided to misrepresent it.

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