Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wait, what?

Boing Boing has posted an article about a video game which is centred around "rape simulation". No, really.

The game is Japanese and is called "Rapelay". It seems that most gaming sites have recoiled in horror at the concept, and refused to review the game, however one website review describes "tears glistening in the young girl's eyes" as she is attacked in graphic detail. I think this is the limit. How much farther can the envelope be pushed? This just simply shouldn't be allowed, in Japan, or elsewhere. It is not healthy, even for the adult male.

I find this shocking. I mean, I'm not generally shocked by these things. Men are angry and violent at times. They enjoy the outlet violent games provide to them. Some would argue that they are a better outlet than the more reality-based options. I've hesitated to ever really form an opinion on this, but now I have. This is too far.

I know there are games out there that involve killing people, beating them, being drug dealers, or driving your car over a bridge with the goal of doing the most damage to whatever you land on as is possible. I don't find these games particularily shocking. What is it about this that gets under my skin? What is it about this game that makes me question all video games, and their effect on the subconcious mind?

Here is a description of how the play goes,
"Players begin the game by stalking a mother on a subway station before violently raping her. They then move on to attack her two daughters described as virgin schoolgirls. Players are also allowed to enter 'freeform mode' where they can rape any woman and get other male game characters to join the attacks.

Pregnancy and abortion are listed as 'key features'. One review said: "If she does become pregnant you're supposed to force her to get an abortion, otherwise she gets more and more visibly pregnant each time you have sex. If you allow the child to be born then the woman will throw you in front of a train!"

The game manufacturer claims their game is not to be sold outside of Japan, however, the game was available on Amazon and could be purchased in the UK. After the issue found its way to parliament, Amazon removed the game from sale.

What I am wondering about is the cultural differences between Japan and the UK, or the US for that matter. Is it so different there that this has a different cultural meaning? Are men so socially repressed that there could be some justification of this? Sexuality is different in every corner of the world. Certainly violence is acceptable here, violent video games are among some of the most popular titles. This seems socially acceptable, on a much broader scale than depictions of sexuality are. Children are allowed to play violent games, but are not allowed to see sex on TV, read about sex in books, and in many states, be educated about sexuality at all. Which is worse? Playing a video game about rape, or preventing children from learning about sexuality at all? We are quick to judge, aren't we?

It can be said that if you can imagine a fetish, no matter how beyond your own understanding, that there is an online community for it. I suppose, in a way, if you can imagine something you'd never want to play, for fun, that there is a gamer out there who would. I feel the responsibility for this is with the creators, and the companies who choose to sell it. Sure, some would argue, they should be able to play, because it's only a game, and they'd never actually hunt a virgin down in order to rape her. Just like they'd never drive their car over a bridge.

And perhaps this is true. Perhaps an adult, who has been educated on wrong vs right and reality vs fantasy could play this game and have no real discernable negative outcomes. The danger here is the simple reality that there is a good chance that this will end up in the hands of a child. Many of the most controversial and violent video games in america, depite having 18+ ratings, end up on children's video game systems and computers. Yes, it's the fault of their parents, who believe that giving their child Doom or Grand Theft Auto won't have a negative effect, because they believe that their child is special and knows the difference between reality and fantasy. But children don't. As much as any one child might be ok after experiencing first person video games, there is another child who would not.

Much like Joe Camel advertising cigarettes is a blatant attempt to sell nicotine to children, making a video game out of rape is marketing sexual violence to children. There is something deeply wrong with that. I think that's where my shock and dismay is rooted.

Childhood is a time that should be free of violence, anger, rape and hatred. I wouldn't say it should be free of sexuality. Perhaps it is the constant repression of sexuality and the force feeding of violence that is creating this isolated, violent and unpredictable society.

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