What's Wrong with Palworld?

Only two weeks after its debut, Palworld has proven to be massively popular. What do you know about it? According to Luke Winkie at Slate, the game is a reflection of the darker urges among very young players. You've no doubt heard that the game is a blatant ripoff of Pokémon. The basic premise of the games are rather close- the player character wanders through a new land and gathers up cute creatures that change as they grow and eventually become warriors.

But Palworld differs in many ways. You might even call it the dark side of Pokémon. In Pokémon, your aim is to nourish, grow, and train your pocket monsters, while in Palworld, you enslave them, make them work, and you can be as cruel to them as you want. And the kids love that. However, Dave Jones at PC World sees Palworld as another, more blatant level of the cruelty already inherent in Pokémon, which takes pains to justify the enslavement as analogous to raising pets. Either way, Palworld's popularity among younger players gives us something to think about. You could even call it shocking.

But should it be? After all, young players were thrilled at the cruelty and mayhem of games like Grand Theft Auto, and we rarely thought about it since GTA is supposed to be an adult game. Putting adorable pocket monsters in those same violent situations just seems like a video game version of "saying the quiet part out loud." And is cruelty for entertainment any less disturbing when it's performed by adults? At any rate, in video game journalism, the ethics of Palworld has taken a backseat to the controversy over Pokémon's intellectual property rights. Yes, you better believe Nintendo is looking into that. 

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