Along the lines of that the-world-is-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket men's rights activist conference the other weekend, we present what has to be one of the most horrifying video games to be released this year (and hopefully ever, though we realize that's far too much to wish for). Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed is a Japanese "adventure" game that will be making its way to PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PS Vita this August -- and our humble opinion is that you should never let anyone you love/care about/even kinda know/saw one time on the street play it.
So, *spoiler alert* (that is, if the title didn't already give it away), here is the plot: You're a young man (because, duh) and you're charged with identifying and destroying bloodthirsty demons that have invaded Tokyo. Seems like a valiant if a bit overdone plot line, no? BUT WAIT FOR IT. Many of the "demons" you're supposed to vanquish take the form of young girls. And the tried-and-true method for kicking their asses/saving Tokyo is to take their clothes off.
Apparently, ripping off the clothes of these demon-Selena-Gomez-look-alikes exposes them to the sun, which kills them. Recap: instead of vanquishing scary, grotesque, evil, or otherwise at least kinda-equal-in-size-and-stature enemies, you're stripping teenage girls down to their panties. Worse (oh yeah, there's a "worse")? The game makers are creating a sequel that allows multiple plays to strip "enemies" together -- aka, gang assault, yay!
And, oh shit, buckle up because there's ANOTHER what's worse: the PlayStation 4 version allows people watching the sexual assault simulator (oops sorry, we mean game) to control the undergarments of the random female characters that inhabit the world. Viewers utilizing PS4's Twitch and UStream broadcasting features can type "panty" in the chat feature and a random (we'll reiterate: young) girl will drop trou. Typing "panty jump" causes panties to rain down from the heavens and "panty around" surrounds the player in a ring of undies. We can't even.
Upsettingly but unsurprisingly, many of the reviews of the game center instead on its faithful recreation of the real-life Akihabara -- a district of Tokyo. The most a (female) reviewer says on the, ahem, possibly totally problematic plot line of the game was:
That isn't to say that Akiba's Trip does not shy away from debauchery; fan service of the anime/manga variety was definitely present. Girls dressed as maids and unavoidable panty shots were just some of what I encountered.
What instead the reviewer focused on -- or as she says, "what surprised me the most" -- was the "touch of self-awareness the game alluded to," because it's set in Akihabara, an apparent "bastion of consumerism" and our hero and protagonist "was thrown into his predicament as a result of his obsession for collecting figurines." Huh. So that social commentary on consumer culture is what's salient here?
Another female reviewer reports: "After hearing the plot, I was bracing myself for fan-service fluff but was pleasantly surprised to find that this was more comical that perverted." Is that supposed to make us feel relieved!? That this misogynist women-derobing theme is so common as to be taken as frivolous instead of horrifying?
I'll readily concede my non-gamer status (though not to throw shade on lady-gamers -- get it, girls!), but of course I know the industry has a bit of a reputation for catering to, ahem, the male gaze (shall we delicately understate). But we are freaked the ef out that if this game is raising so few red flags among those in the community, it can only mean that this kind of dangerous "woman = object best served rendered naked" theme is so prevalent that it hardly warrants an eyebrow raise. Just the kind of normalization of sexualized violence against women we need in a world where one-in-three women faces violence in her lifetime. Just what we need.
This story by Kelley Calkins first appeared on Ravishly.com, an alternative news+culture site for women.