In a land far, far away, we played fun-for-the-whole-family video games, such as Pac Man and Super Mario Brothers. However, these days stealing cars, stabbing people, and finding prostitutes to "up your strength" is not nearly entertaining enough. Thus, for some audiences games like Grand Theft Auto seem to be commonplace and woefully out-dated. Logically, to hold a gamer's attention and interest, game creators must seriously up the ante. Among those raising the stakes, is Illusion Software, a company based in Yokohama, Japan. Developing and distributing three-dimensional sexual games such as Artificial Girl, Battle Raper, Illusion is the force behind the now controversial game RapeLay.
Sexually explicit, violent and R-rated games are not a new phenomenon. Why should we be surprised by video game brutality in a society where the violence level in the media continues to swell? The Parents Television Council reports that since the 2000-2001 season, violent content on TV has increased by 52.4%.
Even though RapeLay, as of late, has caused quite a bit of raucous, it was released in 2006. Unfortunately, an attempt to ban the game has given it unwarranted attention.
According to JazzOleg, a reviewer on the Moby Games site, "The concept of the game is absolutely extreme. Nothing like that has been done before." The objective in the interactive game RapeLay is for your "character" to stalk then brutally rape women, as many as possible. Wait, there is a catch: before your character can go into "free mode" to rape other women in the game, he must first rape a mother and her two young daughters, who have "falsely accused you [him] of raping them." Now the big twist: you cannot get any of the women pregnant. If you do impregnate a woman, you must force her to have an abortion because if she has the child you will be thrown under a train. As with most video game systems, RapeLay allows others to simultaneously play the game together. With several users playing the game, it is possible to gang rape the women further blurring the lines of societal ethics. This reminds me of a U.S. street gang initiation "running a train," otherwise known as gang rape.
Many Japanese software creators are known for realistic graphics, life-like characters, superior animation and amazing effects. JazzOleg writes, "You rape women and control every action of the rape. You control the movements of the protagonist's body parts; you have the illusion...of a totally physical interaction with the girl. It's the most realistic sex simulation ever seen." RapeLay and the creator Illusion have sparked news because of the movement to ban the game. Apparently, the game was advertised and sold on foreign Amazon sites but was made available in the U.S. through independent sellers. U.S. Amazon Marketplace distributors decided to stop the sale of RapeLay because of too many user complaints, "We determined that we did not want to be selling this particular item." A spokeswoman said.
Although RapeLay and games in the same category make me feel violently ill, I do not support censorship. While at times I am guilty of taking certain things for granted, you had better not try to take away my right to choose. Even if it is disgusting, reviling and utterly unacceptable, why should I dictate another person's choice to play an, albeit sick, twisted video game? Aside from the whole Bill of Rights 'minutia,' banning is certainly not the ideal option.
A ban on this, or anything, will only make it more popular. As an adolescent, anything that was off-limits to me became desirable. For three years this game has gone under the radar. Banning or trying to ban the game shines a spotlight on it. People want to know more about it. Why is it banned? Is it really that bad? Curious parties scavenge the Internet to purchase a copy and consequently the price of the game will skyrocket. Simple supply-demand economics. Before writing, I deliberated over the painful thought of giving this alleged 'game' any more unnecessary attention. Then life slapped me in the face. Fighting opposing emotions, I brought the issue regarding game to the attention of my high school seniors. With extreme judgment control, I presented a description of the game and news stories regarding the proposed ban. I wanted to check the shock value of the game. My theory proved to be nauseatingly true-the male students in my classes became interested in the game. A few of my male students admitted that learning about the game made them want to play it. One student said he, "only wanted to check it out." Yikes, how I wish I had been wrong.
Will this game promote rape or rapists? I have no idea. It certainly will not help discourage violence against women. Just as explicit rap music lyrics; movies; TV shows and Marilyn Manson were all blamed for real-life imitation -- this game has a huge, red bull's-eye on it. Perpetuating a culture of rape, making rape a game, desensitizing people to rape, promoting thrills through violence and rape simulations are all devastatingly terrifying to me. What sickens me more, are those that enjoy the objective of rape that this game demands. It did not surprise me to read blog comments like, "Come on people, it is just a game." Only two weeks ago one of my high school seniors informed me, "There are a lot of girls that say they were raped but they are only lying." If we cannot ban it, what do we do? We could start with rape education, rape and violence prevention and possibly slam myths and stereotypes into the ground. At the very least, it might help change a teenager's perception and thus stop the circulation of harmful misinformation.
According to Illusion's policy, the games are not intended for sale or use outside of Japan. However, most of Illusion's titles are readily available to US residents -- via the Internet, of course. Important note: though the Illusion's site is accessible you must be able to read Japanese to use it. There will always be piracy and file sharing on the web and the traditional burning of DVDs. We are living in a society where anything is readily available; you just need to know where to look. Obviously, if people want the game, they will find a way to get it.