Severe Trigger Warning
Amazon.com was recently caught by the Belfast Times selling a Japanese video game called RapeLay. The entire objective of the game is to rape women with varying levels of violence — sometimes stalking them first, sometimes using gang rape scenarios, and sometimes forcing them into abortions afterward.
One website review describes “tears glistening in the young girl’s eyes” as she is attacked in graphic detail.
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.
The description that appeared on Amazon further said:
Rapelay is an offshoot of the Illusion series, Interact Play. You, like in previous installments, play as a public nuisance that gets away from captivity and starts scouting for new targets. This time around you find a family of a single mother and her two daughters. You quickly begin your hunt and capture each woman one by one. The gameplay involves an amusing training/disposition system with which to break each respective target to your liking….
Well, it’s good to know that learning to kidnap and repeatedly rape women is at least supposed to be amusing.
Though Amazon was not directly distributing the game themselves, they did have a page for the game and were allowing other sellers on the site to offer the game for purchase — purchases which Amazon would therefore receive kickback profits from. The page has since been taken down, but you can view a screen shot here.
RapeLay is also far from being the only game which revolves entirely around rape. Sociological Images posted about another one called Battle Raper a few months back.
The objections to such a game, from my view, seem fairly obvious. It’s justifying, minimizing and making a joke out of a horrible crime — in this case one that is, in real life predominantly and in the game entirely, aimed at women. (Which is also why, in my opinion, it is indeed much worse than your standard violent video games.) It’s hateful, it’s misogynistic, and it reinforces rape culture.
At the same time, I think that non-feminists are somewhat missing the point. For example, the Belfast Times included this expert viewpoint in their article:
I don’t think that it would make someone not so inclined to commit an illegal act more inclined or likely to commit a specific act.
However if people are already inclined to view the world this way it may reinforce their views and make it more likely they would undertake an illegal act. I suspect the will to do this would need to be there in the first place.
As someone who doesn’t think that violent video games caused the Columbine shootings (or any other incredibly violent act) any more than Marilyn Manson’s music did, I’m entirely inclined to agree that playing this game would not cause someone to rape, and that if it did somehow give someone the push they need to commit the act, they would already have to be a misogynistic person with violent tendencies.
Which is why it’s not the point. The point isn’t “oh my god, this game is going to create rapists.” The point is “oh my god, this game is going to make rapists think that people are on their side.” Which, of course, too many people actually are already, through their rape apologist jokes and excuses. The premise of the game reinforces the idea of rape as okay and not a big deal. It reinforces the idea that women exist for the sexual pleasure and abuse of men. And the preview of the game Boing Boing, which does not include any actual rapes but only attempted rapes, also ends up reinforcing the dangerous and stereotypical idea of your “real” rape victim who always cries, calls out in distress and overall completely breaks down at actual violence or threats of it.
Genuine and logical criticism of the game, I think, isn’t about it causing an actual number of rapes, but about it supporting and expanding the conditions that already exist, virtually around the world, that allow rape to be committed. The game might not create rapists, but it does make life more comfortable for the rapists who already exist, and life a lot more difficult for their victims.
And yes, I do worry about people missing those more nuanced points. I worry about the motivations of the British Labour MP Keith Vaz, who plans to raise the issue in Parliament. I worry about how exactly he plans to have it “raised,” and what he has done to stop actual rapes using real prevention programs, to educate the public about how rape is usually committed by someone the victim knows, and to increase levels of both rape reporting by victims and prosecutions of perpetrators. I worry about this game, an ultimately tiny piece to a huge puzzle of our expansive rape culture, being used as a way to express outrage while skirting the real issue.
And I worry about the level of media coverage this has received thus far, and that it will largely cause one of two reactions: 1. the aforementioned “you idiots, stop whining, this is no big deal because it’s not going to make a person rape anyone, anymore than Grand Theft Auto makes players murder anyone” and 2. “God, those Japanese are fucked up. I’m so glad that us good Westerners aren’t this misogynistic!” Because after all, I don’t remember this kind of media outrage, or any outrage at all from anyone other than feminists, at old American Lusty Linda. I really do fail to see why one is so much worse than the other. And I also really do see the majority of people using this as an opportunity to feel better about themselves and their own culture rather than taking a good look at their own assumptions and the conditions that exist closer to home.
So while this game does quite frankly make me feel rather physically ill, I also don’t want the table scraps of our society’s outrage on behalf of women. And I don’t want anger over the treatment of fictional characters who live up to an idealized version of the good, noble, deserving rape victim while real-life, less perfect victims continue to be blamed, shamed and accused of lying.
What do you think?
Thanks to Bonnie for the link.