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Games Entertainment

When Does Gore Get In the Way of Gameplay? 141

Wired is running a story inspired by the level of gore in the recent Wolverine game that wonders: how much is too much? It mentions a study we discussed in February which indicated that violence tended to interest gamers less than other characteristics. "... the longer you play a 'twitch' action game, the less you notice the cultural content — the gushing blood, the shrieks of agony. You're too busy focusing on the gameplay. I noticed this with Wolverine. For the first hour, I found the deranged bloodshed both shocking and exciting; it made me feel like I 'was' Logan, the grunting, killing-machine character from Marvel Comics' X-Men universe. But as I became more expert, the cultural shell of the game boiled away. In a sort of staring-into-the-cascading-numbers-of-the-Matrix way, I found myself looking past the visible aspects of the game and savoring the underlying, invisible mechanics of play. ... The game became pure physics and algorithms: Vectors, speed and collision detection. The gore had become mostly irrelevant."
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When Does Gore Get In the Way of Gameplay?

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  • by mcfatboy93 ( 1363705 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @07:13AM (#28051357) Homepage

    I hated an inconvenient truth. all i want him to do is shut up.

    but really in most violent video games can't you turn the blood and gore off?

    • In some games you can turn it off, others you can't, but in this game it doesn't matter because there isn't any. Check out these images from the game []. I searched, I couldn't find any that had any blood even. If we were talking about COD5 which has lots and lots of blood plus blown of arms and legs and torsos even - you would have something to talk about, but this game doesn't even have any that I can see.
      • And then there's Fallout 3 that has a perk where all enemies have 20k Gallons of blood under high pressure.
        • by afxgrin ( 208686 )

          They really need to start making the bodies expel fluids from appropriate orifices, bugs start gathering on corpses that you've left to rot, bowels spill out from appropriate locations, but cut down on the over-the-top gore. I prefer realistic gore, not gore for gore's sake.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet ( 841228 )

        I don't know about COD5 but I would say that SoF:Payback [] probably topped it. Sadly I can't really find any good screens to convey how over the top it was. It was actually SO over the top I thought it was funny. I mean you expected a fountain of blood if somebody stubbed their toe in this game. I thought SoF 1&2 had some rough stuff going on, but when I picked this up for a whole $7.99 along with Quake Wars I was amazed that someone spent that much time going overboard on the gore level. You can literall

        • by MikeBabcock ( 65886 ) <> on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:11AM (#28054177) Homepage Journal

          The best feature of Soldier of Fortune was the gore. You aim for the shoulder and blow the guy's arm off and he can't shoot you anymore, voila. You can tell, just by looking, whether you hit the guy critically or not. If his neck is spurting blood, you know you don't need to put another bullet in him.

          The game's big selling feature was accurate weapons and dismemberment, so if you don't like those things, play something else.

          • I have one and two so I was looking forward to some mess, but actually I thought the AI was what made the first 2 SoF good, although the accurate physical characteristics of the GHOUL system was great too. But to compare to the third isn't really fair. The first 2 had a top tier developer (Raven IIRC) and the third was done by some third stringer. It was even released on the "Activision Value" ( read cheap) line. That is why I was able to get it and Quake Wars brand new for $3.99 each.

            With the first 2 gor

        • Madworld [] has lots of gore! You can't top it!

    • by slarrg ( 931336 )
      I thought they meant Tipper Gore had started trying to get game ratings again.
    • sigh (Score:3, Insightful)

      by taniwha ( 70410 )
      that's the thing about inconvenient truths, they're inconvenient, you can't turn them off, even of you ignore them they don't go away ....
      • by JustOK ( 667959 )

        that's the truth!

      • "that's the thing about inconvenient truths, they're inconvenient, you can't turn them off, even of you ignore them they don't go away ...."

        Yes, but he was talking about "An inconvenient truth", not an inconvenient truth. You know when the media wants to accuse somebody of taking bribes they say "John Doe took bribes" within quotes and not plain , John Doe took bribes. You can manipulate and get away with the first, with the second you can quickly get slapped with a lawsuit.

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      It's Lieberman [] who keeps getting in the way of game play.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Turning off the blood isn't enough. There should also be an option to replace all guns with walkie-talkies.

  • Silent Hill 2 (Score:5, Informative)

    by bhunachchicken ( 834243 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @07:14AM (#28051379) Homepage

    For me, gore doesn't add anything at all, save for when it's used sparingly, to the point where it is so unexpected that it shocks. However, if ever there was an example of a game which didn't need gore to shock and terrify then, for me, nothing can beat Silent Hill 2. Such were the psychological shocks that there were points when I would be playing this alone, at night, and decide I'm better off playing something a little more fluffy to wipe the images from my mind. Sure, it had gore, but it was delivered to compliment the terror I was already experiencing from the suggests the game was making.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Walzmyn ( 913748 )
      I don't think this phenomenon of the gore melting out of mind has anything to do with the gore. It's a natural function of playing a game. You can play a "pretty game" (The one that comes to mind is that flat mario brothers game). After an hour even the prettiness melts away and you are just focused on the gameplay.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So basically you just said that the game wouldn't be complete without augmented gore. So true!

      Many games would be "compelete" without the gore, ala any FPS where you can turn off the blood and gibbs (Quakes, Counter-strike, Duke Nukem 3D, and many more). You can usually play these games unimpeded with gore off, and if you never saw the gore before you wouldn't know any difference. Many people think the gore&blood on/off setting is for kids, but it's primarily used by the best of the best in the Quake

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MadMatr07 ( 1278450 )
        I agree, games with no visible damage to a character really takes me out of the experience and makes me think "Yep you are playing a video game." However, games such as Left 4 Dead are so great in my opinion because weapons have the effects you would expect them to and that immerses you in the game so much more.
      • Re:Silent Hill 2 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:16AM (#28051793)

        However, /my/ argument is the opposite. When I shoot someone in the forehead, I expect some blood (at least). I'm sorry, but when a game model simply falls down after a headshot it makes the gameplay cartoonish.

        I guess the question how much blood and gore would happen in real life from these things. I mean some of these games it would seem to me that you don't need to shoot them as they would die from hyper tension in a few minutes. As the human body isn't really design to explode when it suffers an injury even a big one. Even if you get shot in an artery you will have a little stream of blood squirting up a few feet. Not a splatter of blood that consists of gallons of blood.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

          Even if you get shot in an artery you will have a little stream of blood squirting up a few feet. Not a splatter of blood that consists of gallons of blood.

          It's quite amazing how much blood can come out of someone and they not die. And it's also quite amazing how many square feet just a pint of blood can cover if it's smeared around. Finally, how many people have you shot with a .50 cal or explosive ammunition?

      • by malkavian ( 9512 )

        Personally, cartoonish or not, I've never really found that gore added anything to the gameplay.
        It's an eyecandy that after a while fades into the background. If the story has me gripped, I'm wondering where things are going, and casting the brain into the bigger picture. The fights are incidental; they actively get in the way of where I want to be (which is a highly valid story device; after all, you opponents are all about stopping you being where you want to be).
        If I'm playing a game, and still notice

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

          A game where the blood added something was Onslaught for the Wii, you fight alien bugs that have acidic blood, if you shoot a bug that's too close to you it splatters all over the screen, you have to wipe it off (which leaves you unable to shoot for a moment) if you don't want to take damage.

    • Well, you are obviously not the norm. Research has shown that people play games just for the violence, which is the motivator behind the latest blockbuster [].

      Of course, if you ask me, no violence is too much [].
      • What research? Citation needed there.

        Could it be that people prefer games with violence because without it, something is obviously missing. It's also condescending to the player, implying a person isn't mature enough to see a more realistic portrayal of a violent act.

    • Re:Silent Hill 2 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @07:48AM (#28051593)

      It's the "Psycho" effect. No horror you can see can be worse than the horror your mind makes up itself. Suspense is often much more terrifying than a shocking display.

      • So much this

        I really noticed it a lot when I was watching the movie Punisher: Warzone, it just shows everything and it was kinda funny because of it.
        • You've got to admit that a few of those scenes were just incredibly well done though, from the exploding mid-air jumper to the snapped neck when the impaled body's head was used as a stepping stone.

          I watched that movie back-to-back with Sin City with a friend to compare the first to the stylized fake gore and extremely suggestive dialogue of the second.

    • I agree. If a game's using gore only in small amounts (think about the shock value of accidentally shooting a guard in a hold-up in MGS2) then it's an important part of the art. If the game's got so much gore that you mentally filter out, then there's no real need for it to be in there in the first place. If the game's working in the abstract, then it should be abstract to begin with.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...about all the energy your souped-up overclocked PC is using.

  • I thought Tipper got over this during the PMRC fiasco.

  • Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @07:18AM (#28051409) Homepage Journal

    If you're properly focused on a game you don't really notice the extras. For example when playing guitar hero my friends occasionally point out something that's happening with the band in the background (even when they're playing), but I don't notice anything but the notes (even when I'm not playing). Those that focus on stuff like blood flying around probably aren't actually focused on beating the game. Still, it's better to have some gore than none at all otherwise how will you know that you've scored a hit? Likewise for realistic graphics, it does add to the immersion to have realistic lighting even if you're not paying much attention to it, and sometimes it is nice just to kick back and admire the scenery (the sunrise and sunsets in GTA IV were pretty awesome).

    • I hear that from a lot of people, but I usually call them unobservant.

      If you have to focus so hard on what you're doing that you don't notice what's going on around you, then you're way more intense than me. I beat several games on the hardest difficulties all while enjoying the scenery and replaying sequences on purpose just to get the full effect of them.

      • If you've ever played Guitar Hero or Rock Band on Expert difficulty (especially on the drums, 99% of the guitar tracks are too easy for me these days but there are still a couple of drum tracks I've yet to complete on Expert on GH World Tour), or WipEout at the higher difficulty levels, then you'd understand the level of intensity that I enjoy my games to be at :P I don't see any point in admiring the backgrounds when I should be looking ahead for the notes that are coming along or judging when to turn to h

        • My brother in law plays Guitar Hero on expert difficulty and gets extremely high scores while duelling simultaneously with a light saber at points.

          My wife could carry on a conversation while acing the hardest difficulty of Amplitude (precursor to GH) which was much harder in some ways.

      • I didn't point out that my friends who notice stuff going on in the background struggle to play Guitar Hero on even medium mode, that was kind of integral to my thinking on the matter - but once you start to learn the songs off by heart or otherwise get really good at whatever game you're playing, you can probably go back to admiring the graphics.. it all depends on what type of game you're playing too.

        • I often say to people who haven't picked up on it yet that good graphics are evident when you don't consciously notice them anymore.

          I notice in one game that the grass I'm running on sucks really bad while fighting a beast. In another game, I don't notice how incredibly well they did the grass effect because its so fluid and well-created that I recognize it simply as grass.

          There are situations where not noticing the graphics are in fact the proof that they are better, and if they were worse, that's when yo

          • I agree with that, it's much more noticeable when something is wrong than when it's right :)

            The GH background could definitely do with some anti-aliasing, Rock Band does it much better - and that's just Rock Band 1. I've not seen Rock Band 2, and probably won't until I live somewhere where the neighbours aren't bothered by my incessant drumming!

    • One thing that some games have is periods of lower intesity, GTA (disclaimer, my GTA experiance is with GTA3, GTA liberty city stories and GTA vice city stories) is a good example of this, sometimes you are in a firefight or working to a tight time limit or trying to keep car damage to an absoloute minimum or trying to get away from the cops.

      Other times though you are just driving (or even walking) from place to place and can relax a bit.

    • We call this fixation. In motorcycle racing, it happens when you become overstressed, over stimulated, or your being asked to split your attention on too many things.

      It's usually a sign that you're in over your head.

      The nice thing about gaming though, is that you can fixate without ending up in an accident. :)

  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @07:18AM (#28051411)

    When he shows up at my house and makes me turn off my Xbox because it's carbon footprint is too large.

  • When (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirLurksAlot ( 1169039 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @07:20AM (#28051415)

    the developers decide to write a "screenwiper" package that wipes the blood and guts off of the user's screen so they can see well enough to shoot?

  • by EWAdams ( 953502 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @07:20AM (#28051417) Homepage

    You eat vindaloo, you know it's going to be hot. You expect it, you get used to it.

    If you really want to shock somebody, put a scotch bonnet in their chocolate cake.

    Hitchcock knew this perfectly well. A whole movie of rising tension, and then suddenly, WHAM, a shocker image.

    Same for gore in video games.

  • by Pvt_Ryan ( 1102363 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @07:23AM (#28051431)
    Gore is pretty much irrelevent however I do think it has a place. For example I like the Hitman series. In the 1st one there was bullet holes/decals on the bodies I liked this as it allowed me to see where I hit as opposed to yes i hit or no i missed. I was rather annoyed at the future hitman installments removing this, for me it was all about the perfect head shot in the 1st one, right between the eyes.

    I did think the manhunt series was boring mainly due to the limited number of death animations and the excessive gore.

    I do prefer games that have some gore over those that have none, for example when a rpg shell blows someone to pieces it is more realistic than them just falling over. It's all about the realism the game creates the more realistic the more I enjoy the game (assuming the gameplay is there).
  • When there is no more electricity from the evil polluters!
  • Man, I hate it when that happens...
  • Al Gore invented game play. And then the Internet.

  • I don't find what is euphemistically called "graphical content" exciting or scary - it just annoys me. To me the entertaiment value is in the actual content of the game, movie or whatever, not in whether there is a lot of internal organs draped over items in the vicinity; I realised how much it actually irritates me when I watched the "Watchmen" movie. The story line is not too bad for a superhero movie, but why do we need to spend that much time on Hefty Smurf splatting people's guts around?

    • Just like when he forgot to give air to Laurie when he teleported her to Mars, it emphasizes the fact that he is nearly totally disconnected from most aspects of humanity.

      He blew his enemies up in showers of gore presumably because it happened to be slightly easier than the alternative, even if it spattered a roomful of traumatized bystanders. He knew enough to stop the "bad guy", but beyond that he just didn't care either way. Now that's chilling.

      For that reason I was very glad that they left the gore in,

  • It's essentially the same eye candy as the pretty lensflares and shiny reflections: They're cool for the moment, but they get old quickly.

    When the fluff is off, what's left is gameplay. Gore or no gore. It doesn't "get in the way" more than other graphics elements do. One could argue that high resolution and better blending/shading made it harder to make out the enemies against the background, because they blended better. Did that get "in the way" of gameplay? No, it was just another graphics element. You e

  • by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @07:57AM (#28051655)
    This is a nice zen aspect to gaming, one I've found myself often experiencing as I crunch numbers while speccing and gearing in world of warcraft.

    It's also sort of similar to something I call the Zen of gaming difficulty - The hardest setting to learn on any game is "easy", while "impossible" is the simplest to master. While playing through Easy mode for the first time, you have no ide what you're up against, you face bosses for the first time, get surprised by twists and turns and keep having to look at your manual because you forget how to do your special moves. As you get better and tackle the hardest setting, you only have the tiny variations and subtle nuances to overcome, at which point you are pretty much a master of this game.

    • by Hubbell ( 850646 )
      Why would you play a single player game on anything other than the hardest difficulty? I've long wondered this as almost no game has any form of challenge outside of the hardest setting.
      • Depends on the game and the gamer.

        I played Gears of War 2 through with a friend over a Christmas holiday. Once we were done I decided to replay it alone to get the full-screen cinematic experience. As we'd already completed it on the second hardest setting I thought I'd bump it up to "Insane" and be a real man. I stopped playing after a day or two. Some of the set pieces were just ridiculously difficult, and a lack of checkpoints meant you had to play for 5 minutes before you even got back to the point w
  • Gore is Necessary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Psyborgue ( 699890 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:01AM (#28051685) Homepage Journal
    Without it, a game comes off as a cartoon. I don't notice it so much when it's there and have never found it a bother, but when it's not there, it's noticeable. If you shoot somebody in the head with a shotgun and they just fall down without a drop of blood, something is wrong. It's just plain not realistic.
    • by fbjon ( 692006 )
      It also trivialises violence.
    • by BobMcD ( 601576 )

      Should a game not ever come off as a cartoon, though?

      Game = Juvenile distraction

      Ditto cartoon...

      Not that there's anything WRONG with that, per se, but if you're looking for a real-to-life experience, you might want to put the controller down and go find one.

      Games and cartoons are intended to distract us from the drudgery, and are quite good at what they do.

      And I say this as someone totally addicted to WoW...

    • by Twinbee ( 767046 )

      Neither is the flashing of ships in overhead 2D SHMUPS when you shoot them, or the 'unrealitic' explosion you may get (which looks maybe *better* than a real explosion would be).

  • "The game became pure physics and algorithms: Vectors, speed and collision detection."

    This is just how I feel about Hunt The Wumpus!

    Or perhaps "Rogue" would have been a better example?

  • Gore in games are great but it does not make a great game for me; personally i prefer good game play and innovative physics of the characters and environments for example the new Red Faction game
  • by IWantMoreSpamPlease ( 571972 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:01AM (#28051703) Homepage Journal

    that is used in food. Enough to accentuate the flavour, but too much and you overwhelm what you are trying to improve.

    All of which overshadows the basic premise: If your game sucks, then no amount of T&A, or gore, will help improve that.

  • But the lack of gore was one of the many problems the movie had. Until the girlfriend was "killed" there was basically no blood. Sad for a movie where a guy with a bad temper and knives for hands is the star. So I suspect that the creative control is not very centralized; thus any blanket statements about gore shows that each game is separate from all the others in decision making. Either that or they stole all the gore from the movie.
  • When I play fighters like MvC2 and 3s I don't think about the lack of gore despite them being aggressive fighting games.

    But then in Typing of the Dead, if the gore of the zombies blowing to pieces wasn't there, I think it would lose something. In that game I never ignore the gore, its part of the game itself and belongs there.

    If the gore in Wolverine starts to feel irrelevant, its probably just poorly done. Its a game pushed out to coincide with a movie release. I know it has a different storyline to
  • Is a painful demonstration of how not to write. Ugh.
  • This is one of those questions that's impossible to answer in a generic context.

    If you look at something like Dead Rising, it just wouldn't work well without gore. Compare to something like Viva Pinata and it'd be pretty fucking stupid with gore.

  • by SlappyBastard ( 961143 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:54AM (#28052151) Homepage
    All those violent games are full of explosions!! Explosions that emit tons of greenhouses gases. Do the frakkin math! If there are 700,000,000 explosions in video games today (a conservative number) and each explosion emits 300 tons of CO2 . . . JESUS H CHRIST!!! We're all dead. Now. By 2 pm if we don't stop it. NOW!!
  • Al gets in the way anytime he's in the room. Have you seen the size of that guy lately?
  • When Does Gore Get In the Way of Gameplay?

    When I'm in a total brawl on Team Fortress 2, and there is so much blood and body parts spraying all over the place that I can't even see, let alone hit the target's I'm going after. Yea, then, it's "in the way".

  • When his wife goes all PMRC [] on your industry?

  • Skin it and Find Out (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PMuse ( 320639 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:37AM (#28053689) I became more expert, the cultural shell of the game boiled away. In a sort of staring-into-the-cascading-numbers-of-the-Matrix way, I found myself looking past the visible aspects of the game and savoring the underlying, invisible mechanics of play. ... The game became pure physics and algorithms: Vectors, speed and collision detection.

    The interesting experiment would be to remove the gory skin from those underlying, invisible mechanics and replace it with some sweetness-light-and-OMG!-ponies!! skin. I'm talking about the exact same mechanics with different art.

    Would we still enjoy the game as much? I'd like to find out.

    • Read up on Chex Quest [], a corporate attempt to do just that to 'Doom.'

      Chex Quest was packaged as a prize with boxes of Chex brand cereal, back in the day. General Mills needed a wholesome family game to go with it's Wholesome Family cereal. They developed a version of doom where no harm was done to your enemies (zapping them was said to teleport them away.)

  • If you're playing a shooter, gore might make sense. If you're playing Tetris, not so much.

    Violence, like anything, loses its effect when it's overused. If the blood is repetitive and gratuitous, the brain is ultimately just going to edit it out, and for entertainment purposes the player is left to deal with whatever underlying gameplay mechanics or story remains. I think gore tends to be used to try to compensate for a lack of these bedrock elements, which is unfortunate.

    Horror is a genre where gore is almost criminally overused. Gore in horror is like sex in comedy--it's what you tend fall back on when you run out of real material.
  • by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:19AM (#28054335)

    I believe many, if not most, gamers are desensitized to violence. So there's already an exaggerated expectation of how violence should be depicted, mainly that there should be gushes of blood everywhere and bodies torn apart. Even, myself, who is not keen on gore finds any game with bloodless violence to be quite tame.

    Your average non-gamer, however, is likely to have a very different reaction. The simple act of pointing a gun at a character and shooting them is troubling to a lot of people. I'm not suggesting that gamers are going to resort to real life violence or anything as absurd as that. But certainly there is a thrill they get out excessive violence.

    I personally have no problem with gore in a game if it's an integral part of the story. The problem I have is when developers get gratuitous with it for no clear reason other than, I suppose, to sell more games. It's not all that dissimilar to developers constantly objectifying and over-sexualizing women. I like watching hot girls as much as the next guy, but when it becomes the rule, not the exception I think there's a problem. In some ways I see all this as appealing to the more immature attitudes although I'm sure some people will disagree.

    • by khchung ( 462899 )

      I believe many, if not most, gamers are desensitized to violence.

      No, gamers are desensitized to the depiction of fake violence. Much like anyone who has watched enough American TV for a few years.

      I played games for over 2 decades, from Karateka to Resistance2. Yet I recoil from the thought of actually punching anyone in violence with the purpose of hurting them, much less taking out a real gun and shoot at them.

      If someone cannot separate reality from the fake stuff in a game, they will have just as much desensitization from watch American TV.

      Just stop making games the

  • ...if it impacts FPS. If there are so many gore effects that the game starts to chunk, then there is too much gore. Other than that, who cares? I'd like to see FPS's get to the point where there are blood splatters on walls. Why you ask? When you come across a dead body in a hallway for example, especially if it is on a new map, the blood splatters could give you a hint about where the person got shot from. I'd like to see bloody footprints and other visual cues about where wounded enemies went. Woul
  • When you play a game, you aren't actually causing the gore to occur... it's simply a pre-programmed reward for accomplishing a certain pre-determined task. It's the same methodology used to train dogs and teach children responsibility. You only give a reward to act as an incentive to perform a task until that task become second nature to the subject. Once that occurs, the task is simply carried out on demand for the sake of performing that task.

    In a sense, you don't really ever "play" a game... the game "pl

  • When it comes to video games, the 2 parties are typically polar opposites of each other.

    Democrats want less gore, more bush.
    Republicans want more gore, less bush.

  • Quake 3's truly excessive gore -- blowing your enemies into fine clouds of bloody mist -- just never gets old.

    Yes, it melts away into physics and mechanics while you're playing. However, at least for me, each kill is still that much sweeter because of the gratuitous gore, and the announcer's "Excellent. Impressive."

  • Your subconscious is now so desensitized to gore and violence that it is filtering it out from your perception. You are now warped.

  • There are some games I can't play at a high volume or with most family in the room - those are the games with bad language evey minute.

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith