I’ve been meaning to talk about this for a while, but it took some time for me to get my thoughts in order.
For those of you who don’t know, an indepedent merchant on Amazon Marketplace recently offered for sale a Japanese game called RapeLay. Reported first by GamePolitics, Amazon quickly pulled the game and apparently banned the merchant (who charmingly called himself “Hentaiguy”)… but not quickly enough. British MP Keith Vaz got wind of it, and from there the story ballooned rapidly out of control. We’re honestly lucky that it wasn’t picked up by more of the mainstream media.
RapeLay is a hentai (hentai = anime porn) game; your first job is to sexually assault a young mother alone in the Tokyo subway, and upon managing that, follow it up by similarly victimizing her two daughters. As if that setup weren’t upsetting enough, both girls are underage – the younger daughter, according to one source, seems to be about ten years old.
Before we go any further I need to point out that RapeLay is not a product of the mainstream games industry, was never meant to be released outside of Japan, is not rated, can’t be acquired at retail or any major download site, and indeed is not particularly easy to find or purchase in the west. Naturally the governments and media who seized on the story either didn’t know this or didn’t care; judging from some of the reports I’ve seen they think it’s available at Best Buy. Anyway.
I have long been a vocal opponent of the theory that interactivity automatically renders a piece of entertainment “worse” or “more desensitizing.” One need only watch Hostel or Captivity to recognize that cinematic torture porn is far, far more devastating than what even the most gruesome and violent game can possibly evoke. And there are some people who are defending RapeLay, arguing that if games are to be recognized as an art form they need to be comfortable dealing with dangerous themes, and rape is often graphically depicted in movies, novels, even comic books – consider the nigh-unwatchable nine-minute rape scene in Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible, presented as a single horrifying, unbroken shot. This is one case, however, where interactivity changes the whole equation.
I would hazard that 99% of sexual assaults that appear in other media are portrayed as bad things, whereas RapeLay presents it as an entertainment objective. Those occasions when it’s portrayed as something fun to watch or read about are limited to the most extreme of all “erotic” media, and of course the internet, where every kind of bizarre kink is but a Google away. Among healthy people, I wouldn’t think there’s anything arousing about watching others get sexually abused.
Look, let’s be honest: the Japanese, no offense to any reading this, are a people of peculiar tastes. This kind of thing is not that uncommon in Japanese pornography, particularly in hentai, where schoolgirls are frequently violated by demons, tentacles, and older men; in doing a bit of research before writing this I discovered to my alarm that “tentacle rape” is actually an expansive subgenre of Japanese porn, as in it has its own section at the local porn movie palace in Akihabara. RapeLay, which – not having played it – I can only assume is as cruel as the descriptions make it sound, is not anomalous in its content. It’s only anomalous that it became available on as mainstream an outlet as Amazon Marketplace… an anomaly that was corrected literally within hours.
Plenty of articles about how horrible RapeLay is, and how it reflects a new low for the human condition, have already been written. There are other perspectives, and the one I’m most interested in hearing is that of the wonderful Leigh Alexander over at Sexy Videogameland. Leigh is a writer of extraordinary talent and sensitivity; she is also a woman, and a woman who has written pretty thoughtfully and extensively about her interest in hentai gaming. As she’s pointed out, her female-ness, rather than being a barrier in this usually misogynistic industry, has made it easier for her to explore this seedier side of interactive entertainment. And what she has found there is not always what you’d expect. She was profoundly affected by Kana: Little Sister, an “incest-themed sex game” – not the kind of thing you generally look to for stories that touch your heart. Leigh has already made mention of RapeLay at SVGL, said she’s going to play it and share her thoughts later on. The perspective of a woman with experience in the genre will be very interesting. I will link to it here when it becomes available.
RapeLay could have been dismissed after the press storm blew over, but right in the middle of the tumult, a curious thing happened, uncommented on by the mainstream media: another game, this one a western-designed, casual strategy game called Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble, was pulled by its main distributor because of a scene near the end, a “branch in the story that resulted in the implied violent rape of a woman in graphic detail,” according to Big Fish Games’ PR folks.
First, the obvious: Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble is like the best title ever. But more salient to our discussion today… it’s since come to light that the offending scene in DHSGIT is no RapeLay. It does not describe a rape; it describes an attempted rape, one thwarted by your character, who saves the victimized girl before the assault by shooting the rapist. And this changes the situation dramatically.
We can surely agree that rape is never good. Even to be the victim of an attempted rape stopped by a last-minute savior, as occurs in DHSGIT, would be devastating and traumatic. But here’s where things get dicey as far as what it’s okay for games to show and discuss. Remember – movies, comics, novels, plays; they’ve all had representations of rape, some very brutal, and some have quite famously not ended in justice being done: consider the end of A Streetcar Named Desire. Stanley rapes his sister-in-law Blanche DuBois, who suffers a complete mental breakdown as a result of the attack, and he is able to have her committed and escape any real retribution for the crime. That play won a Pulitzer… while Big Fish pulled Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble.
In fairness to Big Fish, they’re a family-oriented site and DHSGIT, for all its silliness up to a certain point, does get very, very dark at the end. They’d probably not distribute a game version of A Streetcar Named Desire. I don’t fault them for what they did; the issue is whether or not mainstream games can dare present such grim subject matter without coming under fire from lawmakers and media that refuse to accept the thematic validity of such things in games. Even as it is, developers have to couch a lot of their more controversial stuff in metaphor; Half Life 2’s commentary on the Iraq War, Bioshock’s themes of addiction and drug use, Mass Effect’s subtle indictment of racism. You get into stories about sexual assault in games and you’ll have all kinds of problems… though I’m sure Rockstar will do just that sooner or later, and for all the wrong reasons.
Interactivity does bring a level of personal involvement that’s not available in other media. If you think we’re on the tail end of the battle over censorship of interactive media, you aren’t looking at the big picture. We’re about to set off down a road of philosophical questions so thorny they’ll make Grand Theft Auto look like a kid’s cartoon.
We’re getting close today to brain implants that allow the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the depressed to feel hope. We’re probably less than a hundred years away from VR systems capable of direct stimulations that create simulacrums indistinguishable from reality. I’m not talking a holodeck, I’m talking a plug that jolts neurons just right to give the sensation of touch, of movement, of location, whatever. The brain is a glob of chemicals and amperes. Manipulate either correctly and you can trick it into experiencing things that seem completely real. And as is the case with all new entertainment, it’ll first take off when the skin merchants start developing for it.
Which is fine… but what if someone starts selling a rape simulator? Or a game that allows the player to have sex with nine year olds? What happens when technology makes it possible to experience it as though it were real, but eliminate the victim from the equation?
What happens if a person dreams that they’ve committed rape? Nothing. They’re not expected to turn themselves in, they’ve committed no crime. The brain simply created an image and reacted to it. So what’s the difference between that and a waking dream? The electrons and endorphins don’t care, and they have no rights anyway. RapeLay is pretty awful, but it’s not illegal. It harms nothing but good taste. Eventually it’ll be possible to simulate such things at a far, far greater level of realism. And it’s not too far of a stretch to imagine an argument defending a whole market of such products: after all, a pedophile or rapist who can commit such crimes from the comfort of his home needn’t seek out flesh and blood victims. It could even be seen as a therapy for such individuals. Such content would surely be a small niche… right?
Maybe not. Consider the hypersexualization of fairly young girls in today’s culture. Tweens are increasingly expected to act like teens; girls much younger than that get a rainbow of tarty Halloween costume options. And since there’s no victim in our imaginary brain-stimulating ubergames, I think you might be surprised how many people would buy software that allowed for some very taboo activities. Sure, there’d be a much larger market for good old fashioned healthy consensual sex simulations, not to mention the usual alien-killing and high fantasy adventures. But still.
This is not something that movies or books will ever be able to do. Those media are trammeled by the invisible barrier. Contrary to what we saw in The Purple Rose of Cairo or read in The Neverending Story, you cannot cross the boundary, and those on the other side can’t come over to us. Gaming changes all that, and so far, the changes have been wonderful. On one hand the kind of technology I imagine above sounds like a dream come true… let’s hope it doesn’t become gaming’s nightmare.
Hell of an article. And I’m glad you point out that while the game is offensive, it’s not illegal. In bad taste, sure. Evidence of a pretty unhealthy mind, especially when you consider the incredible hours that must have gone into coding it? Sure.
But illegal, no.
I agree with Marcus, this is a hell of an article and makes me confront my preconceptions. I recently watched Irreversible and yeah, the rape scene was gut wrenching, even more so because of the way the movie was edited. That scene was a lot of things, but entertaining wasn’t one of them.
Also, thanks for the link to Leigh Alexander’s Sexy Videogameland. I just spent an hour reading some of her blog entries. Great, in depth writing.
once, video game triumphed in graphics and even find a way to link to neuros in the brain, “video games” will be a new way to torture people by who knows who… indeed, wish that day will never come…
i wholeheartedly disagree with the saying that this kind of games harms no one… some of the stories i heard from japan was horrible… 6 years old love to mope ladies’ behind… and japanese was not born to have that “peculiar tastes”… comparing this to the tween people wearing costumes is…weird.
drawings or taking pictures of naked people can be arts alright, but i don’t think you would call most of the adult porno pictures or comics are art… media doesn’t make anything art… we, people do. if they want to be nightmare, people are the one did it… and most likely, people suffer it. some game maybe art, some really are not…
great article though, i have no idea such things happened…
Great article! I’d found Leigh Alexander’s site a couple of weeks ago due to the Dangerous Girls debacle… I’ve been waiting for her to play RapeLay and report back. Based on her other articles, it should be a interesting read.
Steerpike, excellent article. This is another even-handed treatment of a complicated subject. Maybe one of the things video games do is make us aware of different cultural attitudes toward art and freedom of expression. Obviously, different cultures have different levels of tolerance for pornography. And, as you point out, a controversial subject may have a deeper meaning.
Excellent and even-handed,as always.
A very good article really, as expected from SP.
In my infinite wisdom I would say that with RapeLay the question should be whether it’s good to play or not. I know this sounds immature, insensitive and bordlerline trollish but, hell, as stated many times before, I play games for the gameplay first and foremost and fiction comes somewhere down the line on the list of interests. Of course, there is fiction and then there is fiction and getting a first hand experience of a would-be rapist can make for some interesting fiction. American Psycho, anyone?
Now, of course, RapeLay is nothing of the sort, I am sure it’s pure exploitation and would be much closer to the stuff you’ll find on websites such as BDSM library etc. But I guess there’s time and place for everything (not to mention there’s audience for everything) and rape fiction with intent to sexually arouse those of the right inclination will always vastly outnumber the rape fiction with intent to additionally say something about the human condition.
The really interesting point to take into consideration here is of course that by all accounts (anecdotal, sure, but still pretty relevant from where I’m standing), there are MANY people enjoying rape fiction from the, shall we say, viewpoint of a victim. I mean, to (over)simplify it a bit: many readers don’t read rape porn as some kind of power fantasy where they would identify with the perpetrator, but as sumbission fantasy where they indentify with the victim. Now I don’t know whether it automatically makes it guilt-free (that is, if I am even understanding correctly that the issue of guilt is what makes this a topic for conversation) but it certainly complicates the matters a bit. Is rape fiction ‘wrong’ if you enjoy it without ever wanting to commit rape in real life is the classical dilemma. But additional dilemma is: is rape fiction ‘wrong’ if many people enjoy it from the other end and would not want to be actually raped in real life?
But there, you say, is a difference at work here because with RapeLay you do not just read or watch but participate and there is NO WAY to play the game from the perspective of a victim and even if there was, try to imagine a game mechanic that would reward being a victim. I could actually see this work in RPG or adventure setting and considering many hentai games are actually adventures… well, yeah, I imagine there could be games out there where you would actually actively play as a victim, or at least someone actively seeking to be raped/ humiliated etc. If there are no such hentai games out there (I am hardly an expert on the topic), they should make them now, just to balance the scales. And then where would we bi in relation to our moral stance?
Which brings me back to my original statement: does this stuff work? Does it offer good gameplay? Almost certainly not as most hentai games are extremely simple, made for one-hand gaming so to say and make a point on being light on gameplay so that the user can kick back and enjoy the fiction. If it, through some kind of a miracle does, it could lead to an interesting debate about whether it’s OK to shoot, mangle and pulverise people in other games but not to rape people in RapeLay. I mean, of course, in Ninja Gaiden II, all those people you dismember and decapitate (and blow up, and stab and beat to a bloody pulp) are nominally your enemies because the game tells you so and the game’s fiction gives you a moral justification for killing them in horrible ways, but I am sure that in the world of RapeLay, you also have fiction that makes it OK to rape your victim and that you have some kind of justification for it, how ever thin.
Because, let’s face it, when you do play Ninja Gaiden, you don’t really stop and say ‘Wait, should I be snuffin’ these guys? I wouldn’t really do this in real life, maybe we try peaceful reconciliation first and then if everything fails, I will walk away from the fight because this collides with my moral stance, and I will NOT play further.’ Now, that would be 60 dollars spent badly… And the question is, if you don’t do it there, WHY do you do it in RapeLay? Because one act of fictional rape of a presumably innocent victim is worse than hundreds of acts of visceral murder of presumably guilty ninjas? Because the gameplay sucks?
It’s hard to distill videogaming experience to JUST gameplay or to JUST fiction and trying to do either is wrong. It is a combination of both (at least in games that feature fiction, I don’t think games like GeoWars are an issue here… although if you were to impose fiction on it, it could easily be about an arrogant invader coming to an environment where innocent people scuttle around, WITHOUT ANY WEAPONS, and then committing genocide) that gives us what we ultimately cherish about videogaming and I guess for every person, the ‘perfect’ experience is a little bit different from other person’s ‘perfect’ experience.
Now, I am not saying that RapeLay is necessarilly anyones perfect gaming experience, but the question here is: is it worse than GTA or Call of Duty (after all, in CoD games you often shoot people who MIGHT be defending their hometowns, no?)? It’s easy to rain righteous anger on a game like Custer’s Revenge for its rape mechanic, because that game is shit. It becomes a lot more controversial when a game like Manhunt comes along, a perfectly decent sneaker that got BLASTED by many gamers who were bending backwards to proove it’s a shit game even though it was obvious that it wasn’t and that this was their attempt to preemptively deflect the accusations that they are enjoying a game not because of its decent mechanics but because of its exploitative fiction.
Crap, I am not sure I had a point in all this rambling and since I’ve typed way too much as it is, I’ll stop here. Apologises to anyone reading this…
Great stuff, Steerpike!
This type of stuff has really come a long way from the days of playing a text-based “Leisure Suit Larry” and “Strip Poker” on the old Apple 2 Plus. Those games were scandalous.
Meho: you make good points, but I still think there are lines that good taste demands we not cross in game development – particularly at this stage, when the medium is still struggling for acceptance. I’m okay with such dark subjects being included in games, but not as an objective or form of entertainment.
Similarly, I’d have a real problem with a strategy game in which your job was to manage and run concentration camps, the over-arching goal being to perpetrate an efficient, cost-effective genocide against the Jews, Gypsies, and other victimized groups in Hitler’s Reich. Might such a strategy include good gameplay? Sure… but it could just have easily managed that without the obvious message of hate. Unless, of course, the game were designed as a negative reinforcement – i.e., in recognizing the cold calculation and inhumanity, players learn a lesson about the intrinsic value of all human life – that I could live with. But it’d have to be a very well made game.
I didn’t like Manhunt not for the violence but for the fact that it was a crappy game. Poor controls, last year’s graphics, muddy interface, extreme repetition. A game designed not to entertain but to shock. That’s laziness on the part of developers, not an attempt to push the literary envelope.
I’m wondering if, with stuff like this, there’s more to it than some niche with a fetish ridding themselves of sexual tension. Though I’ve only heard little bits about the game, from the sounds of it, I don’t think it’s not necessarily for people who get some sort of emotional/sexual fix from rape scenes (although, since it features rape, they obviously aren’t excluded from the intended audience either). I’ve always felt rape is a peculiar crime (and, personally, the most horrific someone can commit, ) in that the perpetrators often act it out since they get some sort of thrill from it—but not always in the same sense how some murderers or what have you get a thrill through adrenaline. It’s often about control and power.
I was once reading an article about “crush films” (or something similar, anyway), which involved usually-attractive women crushing small animals underfoot. Not exactly pleasant to imagine for me, but there is a market for this stuff. Most of the people who watched these films were usually at the lowest end of the social spectrum. People who had no authority or control over their life—so watching these videos of a pretty woman repeating stamping on a kitten gives them a sort of rush. Crushing something “small and pathetic” could give them a buzz, since it’s sorta like role-reversal, just replacing people higher up the social food chain with a kitten and the viewer of the movie with the beautiful woman… though, now that I think about it, there may have even been some sexual implications.
Although that’s not the topic here, I’m just curious as to whether or not the people who enjoy games such as these have similar emotional/psychological distress rather than a rape fetish. Or, maybe in some circumstances, the former begets the later—if somebody feels they have no control and no hope in their life, they may start having fantasies in line with the whole rape/crush fetish, but possibly less severe. Due to the unconventional nature of such habits, they most likely get suppressed (not many people would willingly talk about the bestial/rape/paedophilic sex fantasy they had last night, would they?) and gradually build up over time, before eventually coming out in violent ways—in the form of an actual sexual/aggressive assault. Of course, that doesn’t apply to all people with the same mentality, or all rapists, but this article’s got me thinking about it for some reason.
…all this coming from someone who knows bugger-all about psychology, har-de-har. Oh well! It’s good to think. I wouldn’t mind seeing some actual research into this. I’ll have to take a peek; see if there’s any around somewhere.
I think you’re onto something in terms of why people might be attracted to a game like this; I suspect there are guys out there who are very angry with women due to their own nervousness around them, and see this as a way to take out that anger.
I don’t think RapeLay will convince someone to go out and do the real thing, which is what most anti-game detractors assume it’ll do. But it bothers me that there’s a market out there for something that makes rape into an entertaining pastime.
Now, Meho above you there makes an excellent point – killing Germans and Japanese in Call of Duty is an entertaining pastime, even though all they’re doing is defending their homelands. How is that different from being entertained by a rape simulation.
Leigh Alexander of Sexy Videogameland has posted her final words on the RapeLay issue, here and also here. As usual, her sensitivity and deft ability to weave honest reactions into gameplay discussion makes this whole thing a lot easier to understand. I accept her verdict on the thing, because she knows what she’s talking about as regards the genre, and I feel that a female critic has a greater right to comment on such a game, given the gender-specificity of the victimizations it presents.
Thanks so much for the discussion and for your kind words about my work. This has been a very challenging and unpleasant topic.
The kind words are well-deserved, Leigh, you have several fans at this site, and you’ve been a regular linkee in my IGDA column. Your consistent eloquence and sensitivity is darned irritating, since I can’t match it. 😉
I imagine this was a difficult topic, not only because of the subject matter, but because I think a lot of people were looking to you to provide the final word on the game and what this whole fiasco means. Thanks for providing it!
After rereading Matt’s article above and the following comments, as well as Leigh Alexander’s articles on Slate and at SVGL, I’m left thinking not so much about RapeLay as about the nature of and difference between rape and murder simulation and play. Most of my close friends don’t play video games of any kind and tend to perceive them as questionable entertainments that only desensitize their audience. I’ve always been at a loss to explain the difference between playing a violent video game and indulging in virtual cruelty.
So how does a head shot in Fallout 3 differ from a “game” where your intent is to rape or murder? The difference is in the play. The difference is in the context. One, play, is a complex and sophisticated activity that engages the mind and body. The other, let’s call it simulation, caters to an urge to vicariously experience something pretty nasty and often downright reprehensible. That the line can blur between the two is scary, fascinating and can force you reexamine your preconceptions about what gaming is.
most of young animals, when they play with each other, they mimic stalking, killing, pouncing. but not single one of them trying to play like raping…
putting killing and raping side by side and saying what’s the difference between them was not a right comparison at all… imo…
Having been raised on a farm I’ve seen a lot of sexual behavior between animals during play. Between same species and cross species. Even the gender of the animal didn’t seem to make a difference. Whether this can be called play, rape or involuntary response through proximity is anyone’s guess. But they were definitely mimicking intercourse during play.
The core of animal play is learning survival skills – baby tigers play to learn how to hunt, and how to defend themselves. Baby gazelles play to learn how to run away from the tigers. Young humans play for the same reasons, to learn social skills and stuff like balance, coordination, etc. And I can see a somewhat natural extension of that into sexuality, even for humans – there are a lot of three year olds out there examining one another’s pee-pees and vee-vees.
Rape is not play, is the thing – at least, not when humans do it. I can’t speak for other animals but in human society rape is not something that should be considered an entertainment objective. As Scout says, it has no context of any kind, whereas a headshot in Fallout has the context of defending yourself.
I’m all for sex in games, at least in games that have a relevant place for it. And I’m even okay with the idea of a game containing rape… but not this way. Not as something that’s basically about brutalizing women for entertainment, despite the fact that Leigh says that’s only part of the game.
It’s like the Supreme Court Justice who said he couldn’t define pornography but he’d know it when he saw it? Same kind of thing here. I can’t give specific criteria for what I’d find acceptable in this game or that one, but I’ll probably know if I find something unacceptable.
The act of shooting and killing in games is an odd one. One aspect of killing as play (as in Fallout 3) is that it isn’t my intent to take pleasure in the act of killing or hurting the character I’m fighting. It’s the cerebral mini-game of tactics, reflexes, and the post-act frenzy of looting and inventory management coupled with intellectual reassessment of the strategic surroundings that’s fun.
Non-gamers would stop at my description, “I shot the couple behind the bar and looted them for anti-rad,” and take that at face value as that which I find fun. Scorn ensues, and frankly, I can understand.
Somehow, there’s more to it than that. I don’t engage in, “dice play until one party runs out of hit points.” That would be boring. The act of shooting somehow engages a response that’s more stimulating than sterile game mechanics and yet can still feel like a means and not an end.
It comes down to what my reaction would be if my daughter or son “played.” Everyone has the occasional moment when a thought, dark and despicable, is set free to go where it will. Extended graphic play? Where you are drawn by a theme and pay for it? Porn and violence? Torture rapists comprise one of the our media archetypes. Eastwood’s or Gibson’s character may eventually terminate them, but you never empathize with the villan unless you are one teenie brained little cretin (and/or “antisocial type”)and someone better keep an eye on you. Of course, I come from Venus, and if I knew for certain what Martians thought about in any detail, I would most certainly sign up for a return. Great article Matt, professional and reasoned.
I can’t help but feel as if we are doing this game a service by discussing it here. I’m not saying we should stop, but does 2 Live Crew come to mind for anyone else? They wouldn’t have mattered nearly as much without the media scrutiny, although our humble site doesn’t necessarily compare with the national news (it will in time, I am certain).
I’ve been thinking about this since my last post, and I’m just wondering: is rape simulation to sex as murder simulator is to headshot? Although most people would disagree with the notion that a game that features rape scenes is perfectly fine to develop and play, is it really okay for us to say without playing it ourselves? I’m all for forming opinions based on substantial evidence or experiences, even if it isn’t first-hand, but to me some of the reactions to this game (not here, mind you, I’m speaking about gamers generally) do seem to be very akin to those you see from politicians or “concerned” mothers whenever we get another hyped-up GTA game or Manhunt clone released.
From what I’ve read, the women in this game grow to enjoy the sexual acts. Although the thought that rape victims can grow to enjoy being assaulted is a wild concept, to say the least, at this point in the game–is it still about rape anymore? Not that the previous incidents should be discounted for this reason alone, but this is precisely what got me thinking about my initial point. Rape sim, or sex sim? Is that any different from the connotation of murder sim? Is it simply blanketed in this façade that makes it seem more “evil” than it really is?
If context is key, then perhaps it’s down to where the gratification of the act lies; within the game world, or outside of it. Simply put, a headshot can prevent your in-game avatar from being harmed or killed, which would result in a game over or another scenario debilitating to the game experience. Raping an in-game character and watching a fully-detailed scene unfold, on the other hand, gives the player a feeling of fulfilment that manifests itself physically–in the corporeal body, not the digital one. When one person’s suffering equates to pleasure for someone else, is that where to draw the line between what is and is not acceptable? (In games and other entertainment pieces, anyway.)
I suppose it’s like defining the line that separates (nude) art and pornography. There is no one line for everyone.
H-games in general aren’t my cup of tea, so I don’t know much about what the genre as a whole has to offer, and how varied the different styles and mechanics are. But what I am certain of is that RapeLay and its ilk will always get extra publicity due to knee-jerk reactions of “band this sick filth!” from many papers, websites and what have you. Whether this leads to a rise in sales/downloads for the product in question–I’d guess most likely. But this may not necessarily be bad. It may expose some people to certain things they’d never encountered before, which can allow them to better form an opinion on what is and is not acceptable in the media.
I believe it’s incredibly important for intelligent and open-minded people to discuss these sorts of issues, rather than meekly sweeping them under the rug, allowing them to suddenly rear their ugly heads in the future. If some people are uncomfortable talking about violence or rape; that I can understand–but if nobody takes the responsibility to address and analyse these issues appropriately, the problems surrounding them will never go away.
Leigh remarks briefly on one of the topics you discuss, Marf – I’m referring to the fact that the victims eventually come to enjoy the assault.
This is, I think, one of the more outlandish male fantasies, and one generally tied to hentai portrayals of rape, possibly because it’s much easier in cartoon form to suggest that transition in attitude. Overall I highly doubt that any victim of sexual assault would ever come to enjoy the experience, unless the psychological damage caused by the assault eventually led to it in a Stockholm-Syndrome like situation. Of course, such brainwashing wouldn’t really be a decision on the part of the victim and is therefore just as bad as the rape itself.
Another point Leigh made in her writings was that RapeLay puts at least some burden of culpability on the victims. If I understand correctly, your character in the game is stalking and victimizing this mother and her daughters because one of those daughters accused you of groping her on the subway some time ago, and you got imprisoned or otherwise punished for it.
This is something that disturbs me as well, because it not only suggests that these young women “deserved it” for accusing a man of a crime, but it also potentially validates the use of rape as a tool of revenge. While I still don’t see a game like RapeLay possibly driving someone not already inclined to commit rape to do so, I don’t like the game’s validation for its own content.
To be honest, I can imagine circumstances in which rape in a game narrative would be okay with me; much as there are circumstances I can accept it in movies. My problem with RapeLay isn’t that there is rape, period; my problem is that the commission of rape is you-the-player’s core objective and that act of commission is what supposedly makes the game fun. Rape in a storyline, even if perpetrated by the protagonist (though that gets a lot harder to justify), could conceivably have a place in certain game narratives. But I don’t like its use as a casual mechanic meant to be fun, any more than I’d look forward to a game that simulated brutal torture of individuals at my hands.
[…] damn time? Shooting is horrific. It goes without saying. It’s like making a point to call RapeLay “disgusting” every time it’s mentioned (another tic of McCauley’s; and […]