May 19th, 2009

It goes without saying, I do not condone rape. I also, however, do not condone censorship. And, though it’s taken me a decent four months to come to this decision, I think I do condone RapeLay — the rape-based hentai game Amazon stopped selling earlier this year because of its irresponsible content. Needless to say, the incident attracted the attention of Fox News. The game itself garnered angry write-ups from the sites with the stomach to review it. gave it a score of 1, explaining, “Remember, rape is illegal.”

As a feminist, it would be easy to get upset about this game, which Giant Bomb details as “a molestation simulation that allows you to terrorize a woman and her two teenage daughters, with events ranging from groping on a train to gang rape and forced abortions.” Acting as a pair of floating hands, players work to have their ways with the game’s unwilling female characters. Despicable behavior in real life, unquestionably. But if video games let us kill other human beings in cold blood, can we really raise the moral flag when they let us rape?

The concern: that RapeLay sends a message that unconsensual sex is fun, a challenge. The rebuttal: that, like non-sexual violence in games, virtual rape gives players the opportunity to vent their aggressive urges without actually hurting anyone. The debate that concerns me: whether this game should be available for sale, or whether it should be censored.

I would never played RapeLay for my own enjoyment. I would never support it by purchasing a copy or encouraging others to play it. I would — and am — however supporting its right to exist. Virtual rape enacted on an avatar, not a character, would be something different entirely. As it stands, even coercion can be a game mechanic, no matter how distasteful. We have the right to judge art, but not to erase it. Censorship is never the answer, even when it comes to rape.

Tags: better late than never, hentai, rape, sex games, up for debate

7 Responses to “The right to rape in games”

  1. Brinstar Says:

    But if video games let us kill other human beings in cold blood, can we really raise the moral flag when they let us rape?

    I’m not sure that this is the right question to ask. As it is gamers already don’t question violence, racism, sexism, homophobia, identity, representation, and a whole host of other issues in video games as much as they should. They are too busy blindly defending every perceived “attack” from non-gamers. So why would they question the implications of game that lets them rape women?

    Gamers are generally quite defensive when we believe that our hobby is being maligned by the mainstream. The whole Resident Evil 5 debacle is a clear case in point. Rather than actually critiquing the imagery in the game, and thinking that there might be some weight to those critiques, most gamers blindly defended it without question.

    I think what we should really be asking is: “What does the existence of RapeLay say about culture and society?” or “How does RapeLay reinforce existing perceptions of rape in our society?” or “How does RapeLay fit within the greater context of videogame violence?”

    One of the major problems I have seen with coverage of this game (both in the mainstream media and in the gaming media) is that they’re avoiding discussion of any of the social and cultural questions that games like RapeLay raise.

    Have you read The Curvature’s discussion of the game?

  2. anonymous Says:

    “But if video games let us kill other human beings in cold blood, can we really raise the moral flag when they let us rape?”

    The killing is almost never human — ie, animals, demons, monsters, robots, “enemy combatants”. Many games either penalize or prevent the killing of innocent people. In this game, are we raping a demon, an enemy combatant, or an innocent person?

    (I will never forgive myself for asking that…)

  3. Steph Doomfist Says:

    “The killing is almost never human — ie, animals, demons, monsters, robots, “enemy combatants”.”

    One of the most popular game series’ is Call of Duty where opponents are human and I have seen many games where killing inocent people is not punished and is sometimes rewarded. In fact in Call of Duty multiplayer you are killing an actual persons virtual avatar. What depresses me is that Mass Effect got similar media coverage for a minute with a no worse then I would see on TV at anytime of day.

    I agree with Bonnie but would ask what her feelings would be in a similar game where the player played the victim?

    I dont agree with censorship I am a big supporter of classification and the need to have a sensible disscussion about sex in games.

  4. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    I think what we should really be asking is: “What does the existence of RapeLay say about culture and society?”

    So, Brinstar, what does it say :)? Let’s discuss!

  5. Harley Says:

    There were sex games for the Atari back in the day i hear. and apparently those were kept behind the counter or out of reach so you have to talk about those with an employee, and be a little quiet so the kiddies dont hear. I think games like these should be allowed to be sold either in adult shops, or even in other electronic entertainment shops, being in the back room so that only Employee’s can see and deal with them.

    As for killing other humans in Video games? I take it sandbox style free roaming games dont count? In those games sure you mostly kill people of an unsavory nature, but they dont penalize you for killing innocents, and sometimes have storyline or special side missions where you do kill innocents. And Cops. And in some cases Military personnel. And you also deal drugs and steal cars. These games are just as bad. If you want to get into saying Rapelay nd other sexual simulation games are more graphic in content, then what does that say about decapitating someone with a chainsaw.

    There are a lot of violence in videogames. You cant say nowadays though because there’s always been.

    It really comes down to the parents to teach their kids right from wrong, and to watch them, and now that the videogames do the parenting for them. Its the same with television, movies, and music.

    As i said, the parents have to make sure their kids know what is wrong, and to teach them discipline so that they dont become delinquent. ALSO, they should pay attention to the damn games their buying their children. Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Parents often say they dont understand the ratings system of videogames. Most of the same parents DO understand the ratings system of movies. So Why dont they understand the ratings system for videogames. Because it takes too much time to ask a Video Game Store clerk about it or research it online, or look at the game itself, or even those handy little ratings charts some places have now. Some complain about not being able to find the ratings. Well if you can find the tiny almost non existent rating on the back of movies, not seeing it in a larger size on the front is unacceptable. Its lazy parenting.

    And the last factor it comes down to is the players, especially the kids who are 7 and playing games where they can shoot an innocent on the street (Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row especially), because they asked they parents to buy it for them who know its popular, and have heard its such a terrible game for kids to play(mainly because its directed more the mature audience of gamers), and still buy it for their kids anyways.

    Over in Japan they are a lot looser on violence and everything because they dont seem to have near as much problems as over here. Hence the reason they make the sexual simulation games over there.

    Bottom line is Sex Simulation Games should be released over here with restrictions, such as not being able to buy/sell online, so that way the clerks at any kind of shop selling such a game can moderate it because lets face it, as stupid as quite a few parents are at buying videogames for their kids, i would sure hope they wouldnt buy their kids a porn game.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Erm………..I wouldn’t know I never played it, but can’t you rape girls in Grand Theft Auto?

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