Articles on Rapelay - Japanese rape simulation video game
Making a (Video) Game Out of Rape
"RapeLay" video game makes entertainment out of raping women and girls
By Karen Dill, Ph.D.
Created March 30, 2010
Published on Psychology Today (http://www.psychologytoday.com)
CNN reported today that the Japanese video game "RapeLay," has gone viral amid controversy. This is a video game where your goal is to rape women and girls and engage in other misogynistic acts. First I'll give more details about the game, then offer my analysis as a psychologist who has studied the depiction of women and men in games and their effects.
For an excellent analysis of the game by a woman who has played it, see the web site honestgamers.com. This female gamer describes the disturbing details of the game. It is quite graphic in nature, and my description here will be as well. In the game, you follow a mother and her two daughters into a subway station and stalk and grope them. Along the way, your goal is to sexually arouse them, which takes time, as their initial reactions are fear and rejection. To succeed at the game, you rape women, which is depicted graphically, including how you score and advance in the game. You are able to impregnate women and abort their fetuses. The women and girls react to the repeated raping with fear and sorrow, though ultimately you can successfully make the women appear to like it.
The content of this game is deeply troubling. There are a number of specific psychological reasons that playing this game is damaging to women. Research has shown that telling the story that women secretly enjoy rape encourages violence against women. Demeaning women, particularly sexually, encourages violence against women. A game of this graphic nature teaches sexual violence, much like a violent game teaches and encourages aggression. It exposes players - among them children, since the game is available online - to explicit content. In rewarding rape and misogynistic behavior, it teaches and encourages those types of behaviors.
My own research, and that of my colleagues, has demonstrated that exposure to sexually objectified and demeaned women in video games causes males (but not females) to be more lenient towards a real-life act of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment, like rape, is an act of violence - not of romance or sexuality. Rape, domestic violence, and sexual harassment are common violations of women. It should go without saying that none of these things should be condoned, much less actively encouraged.
The fact that the game was developed and sold and is being played and defended by players normalizes violence against women and demeaning and misogynistic behavior towards women and girls. I've spoken and written about an argument I've heard so often - that we can watch or play any media content and it has no effect on us. That idea is a myth. It is repeatedly debunked by research, and yet it persists. This game is not harmless entertainment. It is telling a story about women and men that is dangerous. It is teaching violence against women and exposing men and boys (and girls and women) to graphic behaviors of the worst kind. These behaviors are illegal - made so by civilized society because they are so deeply harmful, and so widely considered unethical.
This is not the first video game to support misogyny. In 2009, a similar story happened with the video game Stockholm: An Exploration of True Love. In this game, you kidnap and sexually and psychologically assault a young women, with the explicit goal of manipulating her into developing Stockholm syndrome. In other words, the goal is to get a woman to fall in love with you through kidnapping, abusing and manipulating her. (Click here for a review).
As a free society, we can decide to tolerate media content that has the potential to harm real women and girls. We do have freedom of expression - no matter how repulsive the expression is. But there is a line. Content that has this level of potential to be dangerous and damaging should be treated very seriously and not dismissed as "just harmless fun." I don't know about you, but I am not comfortable raising my young daughter and son in a culture where it's okay to make a game out of rape.
CNN report on RapeLay: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/03/30/japan.video.game.rape...
RapeLay Screen Shot available at: http://www.gamefaqs.com/computer/doswin/image/933221.html?gf=2
Review of RapeLay: http://www.honestgamers.com/reviews/4775/RapeLay.html
Review of Stockholm: An Exploration of True Love: http://www.feministing.com/archives/015717.html
Anderson, C. A., Berkowitz, L., Donnerstein, E., Huesmann, L. R., Johnson, J. D., Linz, D., et al. (2003). The influence of media violence on youth. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 4(3), 81-110.
Dill, K. E., Brown, B. P., & Collins, M. A. (2008). Effects of Exposure to Sex-Stereotyped Video Game Characters on Tolerance of Sexual Harassment. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 1402-1408.
Donnerstein, E., & Berkowitz, L. (1981). Victim reactions in aggressive erotic films as a factor in violence against women (Vol. 41, pp. 710-724).
Linz, D. G., Donnerstein, E., & Penrod, S. (1988). Effects of Long-Term Exposure to Violent and Sexually Degrading Depictions of Women. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55(5), 758.
Yao, M. Z., Mahood, C., & Linz, D. (2010). Sexual priming, gender stereotyping, and likelihood to sexually harass: Examining the cognitive effects of playing a sexually-explicit video game (Vol. 62, pp. 77-88).
Source URL: http://www.psychologytoday.com/node/40415
'RapeLay' video game goes viral amid outrage
By Kyung Lah, CNN
March 30, 2010
Tokyo, Japan (CNN) -- The game begins with a teenage girl on a subway platform. She notices you are looking at her and asks, "Can I help you with something?"
That is when you, the player, can choose your method of assault.
With the click of your mouse, you can grope her and lift her skirt. Then you can follow her aboard the train, assaulting her sister and her mother.
As you continue to play, "friends" join in and in a series of graphic, interactive scenes, you can corner the women, rape them again and again.
The game allows you to even impregnate a girl and urge her to have an abortion. The reason behind your assault, explains the game, is that the teenage girl has accused you of molesting her on the train. The motive is revenge.
When does a video game go too far?
It is little wonder that the game, titled RapeLay, sparked international outrage from women's groups. Taina Bien-Aime helped yank the game off store shelves worldwide.
"This was a game that had absolutely no place on the market," said Taina Bien-Aime of women's rights organization Equality Now which has campaigned for the game to be taken off the shelves.
But the controversy that led to stopping sales of the game instead took it viral.
That was how Lucy Kibble and Jim Gardner in Britain heard about it.
"I think the idea that you can do it by wholesale banning is just never going to work anyway because we downloaded it for free off the Internet," Gardner said.
In the case of RapeLay, he was right. It is still readily available on dozens of Web sites, sometimes for free.
What happened to RapeLay is an example, said Bien-Aime, of why Japan needs to police game makers.
"It's obviously very difficult to curtail activity on the Internet. But the governments do have a role in trying to regulate this sort of extreme pornography of children, both in their countries, and through the Internet ," she said, adding that they were calling for the Japanese government "to ban all games that promote and simulate sexual violence, sexual torture, stalking and rape against women and girls. And there are plenty of games like that. "
Those games are known as "hentai games." Almost all feature girlish-looking characters. Some of the games are violent -- depicting rape, torture and bondage in detail.
Step into a game shop in Akihabara, Japan's electronics district, and hentai games are readily available. In minutes, we found a game similar to RapeLay. The object here is also revenge: Find and rape the woman who fired the player from his imaginary job. Along the way, the player can rape a number of other girls and women.
Hentai games are not new to Japan. This country has long produced products the rest of the world would call pornographic. But before the arrival of the Internet, such items stayed in Japan. Now, once a game goes on sale in Tokyo, it is digitized and shared everywhere.
Japan does have censorship laws for sexual content. In games and videos, genitalia are obscured, even if it is animated. But Japan's laws do not restrict the themes and ideas of the games.
A national law that would make possession of real and virtual images of child porn illegal is under discussion, but no serious legislation has moved forward in Japan's parliament.
CNN contacted the Gender Equality Promotion Division in the Gender Equality Bureau of Japan's Cabinet Office, which is charged with handling the hentai gaming issue.
Despite repeated calls over a period of weeks, no representative from the government office would comment to CNN on camera. The office refused to make a statement on paper. A spokeswoman would only say over the telephone that the Japanese government was aware that the games were a problem and it was checking to see if self-policing by the gaming industry was enough.
A member of the Institute of Contents Culture, who did not want to give CNN his name, said restricting game themes limits freedom of expression.
"In my opinion, RapeLay's storyline went too far. However, if a game creator wants to express something and create content out of it, a government or public entity shouldn't have the power to restrain it."
Lucy Kibble and Jim Gardner, the gamers in Britain, said trying to control games on the Internet was futile and that content control was up to parents.
"The idea of banning it, or telling people what they can and can't do just because on the off chance some kid might get involved with it is just ridiculous," said Gardner.
Video games that promote sexual violence against women
The General Blog of Crime
April 1, 2010
Posted by Pap
The major problem with these games is that they seem to promote sexual violence against women, and present it in a way that makes the "player" believe it is a game, or part of a conquest, or a way to flirt, or that girls ask for it by how they dress and behave. In one scene depicted in the CNN story from a game entitled "RapeLay," the player pursues a girl, her sister, and her mom in a subway scene and is able to stalk her, back her into corners, lift her dress, fondle her, and rape her. While genitalia are obscured in the depicted graphics, the scene and action leaves little to the imagination.
Some argue that players "kill" other players in so many video games (Call of Duty, Resident Evil, Grand Theft Auto, Halo 3), and that it is commonplace and even banal. Playing such games has not affected the national murder rate (in any country), and so it is illogical to believe that sexually assaulting a girl in a subway might induce someone to do the same in real life. As such, the argument goes, hentai games should be available as their main purpose and outcome is entertainment for the gamer.
I completely disagree. To be sure, Japan has very high availability rate of violent games/movies/manga/hentai but also has a very low incidence of real-world crime and violence. As a criminologist, this is intriguing and so one wonders if the video games allow for escapism to engage in deviant acts, thereby alleviating a felt need to act out in deviant ways in the real world. Research, though, has not proven a link here and I believe it is due to cultural constraints in Japan where shame and dishonor is used to keep youth and adults in line. The availability of these games to teenagers in America (regardless of whether they are available on store shelves or downloadable from BitTorrent or other P2P sites) is what is concerning to me. This is particularly because youth in our country already seem hypersexualized, and where the phenomenon of dating violence and domestic violence occurs with some regularity.
I was chatting with Dr. Hnk, and she mentioned to me that this is what feminist and anti-violence activists mean when they talk about a "rape culture." It doesn't mean that someone playing RapeLay would automatically go out and rape someone, but games like that make light of rape, normalize, it, legitimize it, commodify it, etc., so that it is not seen as WRONG as it should be. "It's just a joke, haha." "It's just a game, haha." You get the picture.
Yes, we blast others to oblivion in first-person shooter games and have become desensitized to doing so in those environments. In fact, we've watched movies for decades which depict mass casualties and think nothing of it. However, games that encourage sexual aggression and violence against women crosses the line. I had friends in middle school who used to play "Leisure Suit Larry" on their Commodore 64 computers, and while Larry was all about sexual conquests, it was presented in a very cartoonish and far-fetched fashion - and nothing resembling "sexual intercourse" (consensual or otherwise) was ever depicted. Hentai games not only depict actual rape occurring, but do so in a way that celebrates it.
This cannot be tolerated. Women's Rights Groups are requesting that the Japanese government intervene because the gaming industry does not seem to be policing themselves and considering how this is affecting today's young males. If the current generation reluctantly accepts these games, the next generation will view them as normal - and will view the actions therein as endorsed and part of the current cultural milieu.
The General Blog of Crime is a crime blog maintained by criminologists who are grad school friends.
And You Thought Grand Theft Auto Was Bad
Should the United States ban a Japanese "rape simulator" game?
By Leigh Alexander
March 9, 2009
For a brief window in the mid-2000s, video games became politicians' favorite piñata. Joe Lieberman and Ted Kennedy spoke out against 2004's JFK Reloaded, a game that let you re-enact the Kennedy assassination. The "Hot Coffee" modification to Grand Theft Auto—which allowed players to (poorly) simulate intercourse with in-game girlfriends—left Lieberman and Hillary Clinton in a huff in 2005. That same year, the Illinois Legislature (among many others) banned the sale of violent games to minors, with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich sending a message to "the parents of Illinois" pointing out that "98 percent of the games considered suitable by the industry for teenagers contain graphic violence."
The last couple of years haven't been as fruitful for video game scolds. Jack Thompson, the longtime face of the anti-game-violence movement, was recently banned from practicing law in Florida. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled that a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors was unconstitutional. There is a Wii in the White House. With America's pro-gaming forces gathering strength, crusading politicians must now journey beyond our shores to find games to rail against. Enter New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has joined with the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault in calling for a stateside ban of a Japanese "rape simulator" game called RapeLay.
Quinn is half-right about RapeLay. While the council speaker is right to say that the Japanese title is deeply disturbing, talk of a ban is just grandstanding—the game has already been barred from Amazon and eBay, and it isn't available in any brick-and-mortar stores in the United States. Like every other illicit entity in the universe, though, RapeLay is available online. Thanks to an elaborate network of software pirates, persistent copy-protection hackers, and devoted fan translators, a free, fully functioning English-language version of the game turns up after 30 seconds of Googling. In fan forums, the feedback on RapeLay is as creepy as the game's premise—"hours of fun," one user posted.
After downloading and playing the game myself, I would have to disagree with that review—a more accurate assessment might be "hours of getting depressed about the fate of humankind." The game begins with a man standing on a subway platform, stalking a girl in a blue sundress. On the platform, you can click "prayer" to summon a wind that lifts her skirt. She blushes. Once she's on the train, the assault begins. Inside the subway car, you can use the mouse to grope your victim as you stand in a crowd of mute, translucent commuters. From here, your character corners his victim—in a station bathroom, or in a park with the help of male friends—and a series of interactive rape scenes begins.
Early on, RapeLay operates like a visual novel—the exposition comes via text that scrolls over a series of static images, explaining your character's plan to enslave three women one by one, and his eerie delight in the premeditation. Although the interactive assaults are difficult to endure if you have a conscience, the game's text actually provides the most unsettling material. RapeLay relies on the horrendous, wildly sexist fantasy that rape victims enjoy being attacked. After the exposition, the game essentially becomes a simulator of consensual intercourse. There's kissing. The women orgasm.
It's an old cliché that the more repressed a society, the more extreme its pornography—but more upsetting than RapeLay is the social environment that birthed it. The premise here is that a wealthy man is out for revenge against the schoolgirl who had him jailed as a chikan, or subway pervert. The epidemic of chikan is an enormous problem in Japan, particularly in major cities, where trains are so crowded that it's easy for predators to conceal their crimes. In Declan Hayes' 2005 book, The Japanese Disease, the author describes a community of salarymen who organize online "groping associations" and subscribe to publications that suggest ideal train lines and timetables for attacks.
In an oft-cited 2004 survey, 64 percent of Tokyo women reported that they'd been groped on a train. While Japanese women are frequently too ashamed to report attackers, the country's legal system does boast a high conviction rate, so the chikan who are charged generally do jail time. Male commuters fear being accused by mistake; a 2007 documentary called I Just Didn't Do It follows the legal battle of an innocent man accused of groping. Though there's no question of the groper's guilt in the game, this social conflict is RapeLay's backdrop.
Although many violent Japanese sex games feature happy endings in which formerly victimized women end up as fulfilled, adoring wives, RapeLay allows only for dark outcomes. The first possible conclusion has the original subway victim stabbing you to death during sex. There's also the possibility that you can impregnate one of the victims. If the player doesn't force her to have an abortion, the game's protagonist, fittingly, throws himself under a train.
While the moral outrage from the New York City Council and Web sites like Jezebel and Shakesville is obviously well-placed, there's little hope that legislation or activism can stem the perversion. Not only is RapeLay rooted in a social illness that's embedded in Japanese society, it's just one game in a niche industry that's more closely related to the porn business than to the video game world.
Risquè PC games, or eroge, are big business in Japan, and legions of Japanese software-development houses are devoted to churning them out. They're usually sold alongside glossy comics, figurines, and animated smut in shops that cater to a common fetish for animated women; they don't share shelf space with Super Mario and Halo. Eroge enjoys a broad, if underground, following in Japan, and titles with violent subtexts are actually in the minority. More common are gauzy high-school dating stories, standard soap-opera melodrama that prioritizes narrative, and plenty of oddball pap starring cat girls and alien maids.
The Japanese government has never placed restrictions on eroge themes, though they are subject to censorship laws. The absurd result: games in which violent sex scenes feature genitalia that's tastefully obscured. When resourceful software pirates funnel eroge to Western audiences, they can implement hacks that remove the mosaics—which means the version of RapeLay that I saw is actually more graphic than the Japanese intended. Nevertheless, RapeLay can actually be called tame compared with its more extreme peers. It's almost insultingly nonviolent for a game ostensibly about a brutal act. The idea of a "rape simulator" is repellent—what's worse is that the game trivializes the reality of rape.
Considering the impossibility of policing the Internet, as well as the availability of English RapeLay translations and forums for years before any politician caught wind of the game, it's unrealistic to think that the game could be banished from America. Very few Japanese developers make an effort to sell eroge to the West, and those that do, like Peach Princess and G-Collections, make content modifications to suit foreign norms and laws. (For example, all underage characters' ages get rounded up to 18, no matter how young the character looks.) These Westernized versions are sold in the United States via import sites like J-List and Play-Asia. Neither company sells RapeLay, but they do offer the popular eroge Yume Miru Kusuri. That game, while more edgy than it is violent, does focus on sex-crazed, underage-looking high schoolers with drug problems and suicide fetishes. RapeLay is appalling, but titles like Yume Miru Kusuri—sold in America after being unconvincingly modified so the protagonists are "18," making it tough to peg the games as outright illegal—would make far more constructive targets for political outrage.
Leigh Alexander is the news director of the game industry site Gamasutra and authors the blog Sexy Videogameland.
Rapelay virtual rape game banned by Amazon
February 16, 2009
By Matthew Moore
Withdrawn from sale: Amazon.com has stopped selling RapeLay, in which players have to stalk and rape a family of women. In Rapelay, gamers direct a character to sexually assault a mother and her two young daughters at an underground station, before raping any of a selection of female characters.
The game was intended for release just in Japan, but was on offer to British buyers through Amazon Marketplace, the section of the online store's website open to third-party sellers.
But Amazon has now withdrawn the game after complaints from users, deeming it to be inappropriate. "We determined that we did not want to be selling this particular item," a spokeswoman said.
Rapelay was developed by the Japanese production house Illusion, which makes a number of sexually violent games for the domestic market. Their other titles include "Battle Raper" and "Artificial Girl".
A spokesman for the company said: "We believe there is no problem with the software, which has cleared the domestic ratings of an ethics watchdog body."
Keith Vaz, the Labour MP for Leicester East who has previously spoken out against computer games that promote violence, condemned the game.
"It is intolerable that anyone would purchase a game that simulates the criminal offence of rape," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
Rapelay, which was released in 2006, encourages players to force the virtual woman they rape to have an abortion. If they are allowed to give birth the woman throws the player's character under a train, according to reviews of the game. It also has a feature allowing several players to team up against individual women.