SFTW: Mama Kills Animals

Every week Iain Simons chooses a game so you can while away a few hours at your desk. This week Peta

Every week Iain Simons chooses a game so you can while away a few hours at your desk. This week Peta's Mama Kills Animals

A new, and quite unexpected argument has broken out this week between videogame publisher Majesco and campaign group PETA, following the launch online of a flashgame parody of the popular culinary title ‘Cooking Mama’.

PETA are taking exception to the absence of vegetarian recipes in the game and are registering their disgust with a very well executed and fully playable protest. Cooking Mama : Mama Kills Animals invites you to prepare a thanksgiving feast using just your mouse, plucking and stuffing the turkey and then wallowing in the resultant bloodbath. The aim of the endeavour, “Urge Majesco to make a vegetarian recipe version of Cooking Mama”.

Of course, Majesco haven’t taken this lying down, although rather than unleashing the vengeful wrath of their legal team, they opted to issue a defensive statement. However, in an effort to deflate the whole affair, all the quotes within it were attributed not to a Majesco spokesperson, but to one ‘Mama’…

I would never put rat in my Ratatouille," said a feisty Mama while beating some eggs. "Like any accomplished cook, I create my recipes to appeal to a broad range of tastes and preferences. My only goal is to ensure you leave the table well fed.”

The company goes on to explain that whilst Mama isn’t a vegetarian she,”…fully supports the humane treatment of animals, particularly for her canine protege Max who makes his doggie debut in World Kitchen.”

This isn’t the first flashgame protest from the group, last year they released the similarly themed ‘Super Chick Sisters’ as part of their Kentucky Fried Cruelty campaign.

Play Cooking Mama : Mama Kills Animals

Iain Simons writes, talks and tweets about videogames and technology. His new book, Play Britannia, is to be published in 2009. He is the director of the GameCity festival at Nottingham Trent University.
Photo: Getty
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The Future of the Left: trade unions are more important than ever

Trade unions are under threat - and without them, the left has no future. 

Not accepting what you're given, when what you're given isn't enough, is the heart of trade unionism.

Workers having the means to change their lot - by standing together and organising is bread and butter for the labour movement - and the most important part? That 'lightbulb moment' when a group of workers realise they don't have to accept the injustice of their situation and that they have the means to change it.

That's what happened when a group of low-paid hospital workers organised a demonstration outside their hospital last week. As more of their colleagues clocked out and joined them on their picket, thart lightbulb went on.

When they stood together, proudly waving their union flags, singing a rhythmic chant and raising their homemade placards demanding a living wage they knew they had organised the collective strength needed to win.

The GMB union members, predominantly BAME women, work for Aramark, an American multinational outsourcing provider. They are hostesses and domestics in the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, a mental health trust with sites across south London.

Like the nurses and doctors, they work around vulnerable patients and are subject to verbal and in some cases physical abuse. Unlike the nurses and doctors their pay is determined by the private contractor that employs them - for many of these staff that means statutory sick pay, statutory annual leave entitlement and as little as £7.38 per hour.

This is little more than George Osborne's new 'Living Wage' of £7.20 per hour as of April.

But these workers aren't fighting for a living wage set by government or even the Living Wage Foundation - they are fighting for a genuine living wage. The GMB union and Class think tank have calculated that a genuine living wage of £10ph an hour as part of a full time contract removes the need for in work benefits.

As the TUC launches its 'Heart Unions' week of action against the trade union bill today, the Aramark workers will be receiving ballot papers to vote on whether or not they want to strike to win their demands.

These workers are showing exactly why we need to 'Heart Unions' more than ever, because it is the labour movement and workers like these that need to start setting the terms of the real living wage debate. It is campaigns like this, low-paid, in some cases precariously employed and often women workers using their collective strength to make demands on their employer with a strategy for winning those demands that will begin to deliver a genuine living wage.

It is also workers like these that the Trade Union Bill seeks to silence. In many ways it may succeed, but in many other ways workers can still win.

Osborne wants workers to accept what they're given - a living wage on his terms. He wants to stop the women working for Aramark from setting an example to other workers about what can be achieved.

There is no doubting that achieving higher ballot turn outs, restrictions on picket lines and most worryingly the use of agency workers to cover strikers work will make campaigns like these harder. But I refuse to accept they are insurmountable, or that good, solid organisation of working people doesn't have the ability to prevail over even the most authoritarian of legislation.

As the TUC launch their Heart Unions week of action against the bill these women are showing us how the labour movement can reclaim the demands for a genuine living wage. They also send a message to all working people, the message that the Tories fear the most, that collective action can still win and that attempts to silence workers can still be defeated.