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It was reported to the TSPCA on December 31, 2014 that an advertisement for an online game on Yahoo Taiwan might depict animal abuse. The wording and visuals of this advertisement suggest that a player will get “divine armor” if the player’s character kicks down geese and bursts them open. Considering the wide range in age of online gamers, which include many children, the automatic pop-up of such an advertisement on the Yahoo Taiwan page could very possibly encourage children to imitate such inappropriate behavior. As set down in Article 49 of the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act, no one should spread or broadcast publications, photos, video program tapes, films, CDs, electronic signals, gaming software, or other articles to children and youth that would be harmful to their mental health. For this reason, TSPCA and the relevant authority have investigated the matter.

TSPCA contacted customer service of the game company to request they remove this advertisement or change the use of animals in the game. However, the company simply replied that there was not any animal abuse involved. They felt that this case was a misinterpretation and they had no intention of removing the problematic images. Meanwhile, with our continued efforts in collecting evidence, TSPCA found that this game company actually distributed a large number of other anti-life advertisements showing humans “chopping alpacas, kicking ducks and elephants” online.

Unfortunately, the Animal Protection Act cannot regulate this case as it is concerned with the promotion of animal abuse in the virtual world, with no real actions involved. However, the depictions may be considered inappropriate according to the regulations of the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act. Currently, the Department of Social Welfare of Taipei City is conducting an investigation.

It is extremely difficult to screen the huge amount of information available in the virtual world. Minors learn through imitation but children are not yet capable of determining whether what they see is right or wrong. Therefore, it is an important responsibly of adults and parents to act as gatekeepers for them. From time to time, parents should observe what their children are browsing on the Internet, and allow opportunities for children to learn how to judge web content. Adults should protect children from incorrect information and should prevent them from growing into the kind of people who would abuse animals. In addition, the SPCA urges the government to adopt stricter rules for advertisements showing images of animals. Our government should adhere to higher standards so as to promote respect for life among the next generation.

Let’s take action together! To press the gaming company into taking corporate responsibility and conveying respect for life, Taiwan SPCA urges everyone to write to the company in protest. Let us combine our efforts to request that the game company immediately change the depictions of animals (or replace them with non-living objects). Please also e-mail the Social Welfare Department of Taipei City with regards to this incident to bring the authority’s attention to our children’s learning.

Write to the game company at [email protected]

You can use the template provided below:
“To whom it may concern:
Your game shows inappropriate depictions of characters kicking geese, chopping alpacas, and kicking ducks and elephants. These images are simply negative examples for learning and could very easily lead to imitation by young people. I care about animals and our children. Therefore, I hope you will take due responsibility and modify your game as soon as possible. I suggest you replace all the animals with non-living items. Please be a conscientious company that cares about the mental development of children and conveys the appropriate respect for life.”

Express your protest on the webpage of the Department of Social Welfare at
http://contact.taipei.gov.tw/CCLM/CLM/ASPX/CLMA0100E.ASPX?OU_ID=379120000JAHAACH

You can use the template provided below:

“To the Department of Social Welfare:
The online game of this game company (http://www.gm99.com) inappropriately depicts characters kicking geese, chopping alpacas, and kicking ducks and elephants. These images are simply negative examples for learning and could very easily lead to imitation by young people. I care about animals and our children. Therefore, I hope this company can take due responsibility and modify their game as soon as possible by replacing all the animals with non-living items. I care deeply about the mental development of our children and conveying the appropriate respect for life. I hope the Department of Social Welfare can set high standards for promoting a respect for life among the next generation.

The link to the game advertisement:
http://p.gametwol.net/17gd/42mu/5.html?scid=news.ltn.com.tw&subid=mu_tw_zx_52_30x2&gclid=CLq5wYTgn8QCFdcRvQodJ7wA4A
http://p.gm99.com/31ap/42mu/12.html?scidm42mu_12