Thoughts on Gamer Culture, Rape Culture, and CNN

Melissa McEwan has generously given me space for another guest post at Shakesville.  Here’s the intro:

[Trigger warning for discussion of video games which simulate rape and violence.]

I’ve got video games on my mind lately — as some of you have probably seen me talking about in comments, I was at the Penny Arcade Expo in Boston this past weekend — and I just wrote a mostly-positive post with some criticism and a dubiously clever pun for the title over at my blog, about gamer culture in general and one panel at the Expo in particular.

This post is much less positive, and I’m also much less certain, ultimately, what should be done to try to fix the problems I’m talking about.

Many of y’all probably remember previous discussion, both here (Rape For Sale, Looking for Rape Products? Try Amazon., From the Mailbag for 2009-08-17) and at many other blogs over the past several years, of a Japanese computer game called RapeLay, the genre of hentai (lit. “pervert”/”perverted”) games, and the subgenre of rape-focused hentai games to which it belongs.

CNN’s Connect the World program has now run a story on the game, and its continuing availability through illicit channels despite its having been pulled from production and removed from retail…

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3 comments

  1. I read the post over at Shakesville, and I definitely think that the biggest problem is that there’s a demand in the first place. As long as rape culture exists, these games exist. I’m not trying to say that as a sort of, “Oh well! Too bad!” But I think that there’s no easy solution, besides doing whatever possible, through legal channels, to prevent the spread of these games.

    That being said, I do think it’s good that you brought up violence in other games. I get uncomfortable at any hint of sexual violence in a game, and yet when my old roommate played Gears of War 2, and she’d get that chainsaw bayonette … yeah. I think that there’s something about rape as a weapon that feels different than another kind of weapon. It’s not just whether or not the enemy has done something to the protagonist, since the CNN article mentions a game where you get revenge on a female boss by raping her. It’s rape as a weapon specifically.

    Ugh. It’s complicated. I wish we could tease this out.

    1. It’s not just whether or not the enemy has done something to the protagonist, since the CNN article mentions a game where you get revenge on a female boss by raping her.

      Hm. Yeah, but I’m guessing that in the course of the gameplay that boss never poses an immediate physical threat to the player’s character. In a shooter, obviously the scenario is artificially concocted so that the enemies are an immediate, “lethal” threat to the player — so that it’s “okay” to shoot them; but despite the artifice that is the scenario, those enemies are going to kill your character if you don’t kill them right away.

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