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‘Fat Chicken' aims to send message to gamers

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Posted at 9:57 AM, Oct 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-19 09:50:01-04

You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few chickens.

Fat Chicken,” a new tower-defense style game available for download using Steam Early Access, aims to get people thinking about a social cause.

“What we set out to do is have people start to think about what they're eating,” said studio director Josh Mills, of Relevant Games. “Do they want to continue eating the crap they’re eating if they understand how it’s made – or do they want to change their habits?”

Relevant Games released “Fat Chicken” for Windows, Mac and Linux computers on Friday. A version for iOS is in the works. The game was developed in collaboration with Mighty Rabbit Studios.

Relevant creates games with the goal of enlightening gamers about social causes through brutal satire and crazy gameplay. Rather than “preach” to the gamers, Mills said Relevant mimics the successful formula of the Daily Show — take a serious topic and crank up the absurdity.

“Those awful things are based on real life — pumping (animals) full of hormones, force feeding them corn, antibiotics to the extreme,” Mills said. “We take it up a notch to make it satirical, crazy.”

The game begins with the player in need of a job, which they find at a meat factory. The player is caught between the need to meet demand and the horrific acts committed against the animals — portrayed as cute cubes that resemble cows, pigs and, yes, chickens.

They’re instructed to make their meat quota “by any means necessary.”

“That’s what we hope, that you think, ‘I’m an awful person,’” Mills said.

The goal is to fatten up the animals with “gooey green growth hormones,” force feed them corn and squirt them with just enough water to keep them from dying of thirst before making it to the slaughterhouse.

All this to an original soundtrack of twangy, upbeat farm music.

The game is a new spin on “tower defense,” a type of strategy action game in which the player defends their base against waves of enemies. But “Fat Chicken” turns that on its head — the goal isn’t to kill the chickens, it’s to keep them alive long enough to slaughter them.

“Even if they’re burned out on tower defense stuff they’ll find something new and innovative in it,” Mills said. “Our number one objective is fun, entertaining gameplay.”

Along the way, the player may use all sorts of contraptions to deliver the most meat to the meat factory, including “feederators,” “mad scientists” and sombrero-wearing “hired hands” with cattle prods.

None of this is good for the animals, of course. There’s an a strange juxtaposition between the cute, cartoonish creatures and the horrific acts being portrayed.

“We’re not here to tell you how to think, you can draw your own conclusions. If you go to the grocery store then maybe you’ll pause for a minute,” Mills said.

“Fat Chicken” is the second game from Relevant Games, which is based in Durham, North Carolina. Relevant is a joint venture between the E.W. Scripps Company and Capitol Broadcasting.

Watch the gameplay trailer below and check out the game on Steam.

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk. Follow him on twitter at @GavinStern or email him at gavin.stern@scripps.com