Monday, 16 February 2009

I want to throw up

I'd say this is NSFW, but its really Not Safe For Anywhere.

The game makers and the game players are sick, sick people. If you find this kind of game entertaining, you oughta be locked up.

12 comments:

Ken Breadner said...

"It is intolerable that anyone would purchase a game that simulates the criminal offense of rape."
Don't get me wrong, I couldn't agree more. But I have questions. How come it's perfectly okay to purchase games that simulate the criminal offenses of murder, assault, grand theft auto (hell, one of the best-selling series of all time is CALLED that) or, well, just about anything else you can dream up?
How come it's fine for kids to *watch* all this?
Glad to see there's one taboo left, I guess.

ADHR said...

Grand Theft Auto IV is rated M by the ESRB, meaning it is not considered suitable for children. So, I'm not sure why kids would be seeing what goes on in GTA unless their parents aren't paying attention to what they're playing. (Yes, I know, parents can't watch their children always; this is how kids sneak into R-rated movies as well as play M-rated video games.)

I'm also not into the "simulate criminal offenses" line, for a number of reasons, but here's a few. The amount of death and destruction waged in, say, Missile Command or Galaga is comparable to what can be done in, say, Gears of War, but the former are generally considered unobjectionable. Is graphical sophistication the measure of offensiveness? That's sort of a weird idea. Along similar lines, children have been simulating genocide for years, in playing cowboys and Indians. Again, though, no one seems to think that's problematic.

That said, I'm not that bothered by this game, for two reasons. First, it's a Japanese game, intended for sale in Japan (the Amazon UK listing was actually an error), and Japan is known for having really weird and extreme porn, but also really low rates of actual sexual violence. So, while it may not be acceptable to Westerners, the Japanese seem willing to tolerate it. We can say we don't want it in our society, but to lock people up who want to pursue it as it suits their tastes seems a mite autocratic t'me.

Second, we're talking about pictures here -- cartoons, really. How can it be offensive or criminal to do anything to a cartoon? It might be offensive to have drawn one, I suppose, but the objection seems to be that rape of cartoons by cartoons is depicted and guided by a game player. Would it be genocide, then, to have a set of red army men wipe out a set of green army men in the sandbox?

Ken Breadner said...

ADHR--I'm sure you know as well as I do that the rating system exists mostly to make money. Many retailers ignore it and most kids find ways around it.
Kids may have been playing cowboys and Indians for years...but oddly enough the Indians always get up unharmed at the end of the game. So I wouldn't say they're simulating genocide. Whereas in these so-called "games" murder and mayhem are the whole object.
I know the games aren't real. I understand the difference. But still I question the desire to pretend they are.
Your point that this was meant for the Japanese market is a fair one, I suppose (though I wonder how many raped Japanese women would agree). Because for some (not all, not even many, but some) players, eventually the rape "game" won't be enough.
What's next? A game where the idea is to lure children?

Catelli said...

Hey, I wasn't seriously suggesting people need to be locked up.

From what I've read, Japanese society is very chauvinistic. I I remember reading an article that its considered OK for a man to read Hentai type porn on public transit even with women sitting next to him. The reported rate of sexual violence might be quite low because of the shame of the victim (sortof where Western society was 40 years ago)

I understand the fantasy aspect of gaming. I play Unreal Tournament with the gore levels turned up on high and get a kick out of it. But even Grand Theft Auto left me cold. A friend described how he scored a lot of points by paying for a prostitute, having sex with her, and then beating her up and stealing the money back. That was a line in gaming I just couldn't cross.

I don't believe that there's a one-to-one ratio between simulated violence and physical violent acts. What concerns me is that it probably isn't zero-to-one either.

In Unreal Tournament you play a character in a violent game where the survivor wins the game. You play on alien worlds and automatically respawn whole and ready to battle when an incoming grenade frags your body. After a couple of hours I'm so juiced on adrenaline that I can barely sit still. Its runners high, without leaving my desk (we'll leave aside my lack of physical exercise for the moment). However the whole concept of the game involves "suspension of disbelief" and a fantastical scenario.

Grand Theft Auto (and this raping game) are much closer to this world. The line between fantasy and reality is much more blurred, and I fear that some people who really enjoy the virtual reality will be tempted to try the physical reality.

Catelli said...

As to the Japanese only angle, the game is available on BitTorrent. (The Post Chronicle has the link, careful with it, its definitely NSFW or polite company).

ADHR said...

Japan has lower rates of sexual violence than Western countries like the US and Canada, yet has more and more violent pornography readily available. This could be due to underreporting, but I'm not sure what would be especially different in Japan to lead to drastic underreporting as compared to Canada and the US. So, on the statistical side, it's very hard to substantive the claim that there's any connection between exposure to violent sexual images and actual violent sexual conduct. The same applies to violence generally: there's nothing solid to indicate that exposure to fantasy violence, in any form, leads to actual violence, in any form. Indeed, it's at least as plausible that fantasy violence serves as an outlet for violent tendencies that would otherwise be expressed in more harmful ways.

The point isn't that the game is tasteful or pleasant or enjoyable to most folks. The point is that there are people who enjoy very dark fantasies. I'm not sure what the basis is for condemning those fantasies except that one doesn't share those tastes, which, to my eye, is contrary to the very idea of a free society. Unless we can be very confident that something poses a significant risk (like, say, a child owning a handgun -- very rare for that to be safe), then it seems we should err on the side of letting people do it. Otherwise, where does it end?

Catelli said...

Unless we can be very confident that something poses a significant risk (like, say, a child owning a handgun -- very rare for that to be safe), then it seems we should err on the side of letting people do it. Otherwise, where does it end?

I don't know where it ends. Banning this game outright on store shelves will only serve to push it underground, but maybe that's where it belongs. It minimizes the exposure. Permitting its sale in the name of a free society could be dangerous to that free society in that it promotes violence on women.

I'm not a believer in "free society" as a absolute concept. There have to be some restrictions, most of which are codified into law, some are "social norms".

I'll agree that locking people up for having dark fantasies is a non-starter. But we can condemn those fantasies. I do believe there is a very fine line between fantasy and acting it out. Its not deterministic in that we can predict who will act out their fantasy. Some will use the software as an outlet, others will use it as "practice".

Is there a perfect solution? No. There are issues with both permissiveness and punishment. Which is why we try to keep these things on the fringe, its a compromise between both positions.

ADHR said...

The issue of limiting freedom isn't salient, I don't think. That would seem to come into play when we are confident that there is a significant risk to some activity -- again, the child owning a handgun. Then we have a good basis for limiting freedom. I don't see that the condemnation of what are very clearly dark imaginative works passes either part of the test. First, it's not clear that a significant risk exists; it seems that only rarely is someone inspired to actual violence by violent fantasies. But, second, we can't really be confident either way, as there aren't any good systematic studies available. So, I don't think it can be said with confidence that there's any significant risk in allowing violent fantasies to be expressed in various forms of media, whether we're talking games, movies, paintings, novels, music, or what have you.

If the basis is the appeal to "social norms" (or, worse, to laws), then I think what you're defending is not a free society in any sense. What you're suggesting is that if lots of people don't care for some behaviour, find it distasteful/revolting/some similar -- it violates a "social norm" or the majority has elected folks who passed a certain law against it -- then it should be restricted, ostracized, or similar. (Indeed, you're actually extending it past behaviour into thoughts, i.e., the having of dark fantasies.) But that vision of society is one which casts out or discriminates against people who differ from the average person just because they are different. How are we free if we are punished for not being like the rest?

Catelli said...

Can I infer then that you are against current child-porn legislation? If I understand the legislation correctly, if this game used children instead of women, it would be illegal to posses and distribute.

ADHR said...

I'm not sure that it's in the legislation, as opposed to the judicial interpretation, but yes, I don't agree with it. I don't agree with the hate-speech laws, either.

Again, I should note that I'm okay with persuasion, cajoling, pleading, etc, etc -- every extra-legal means short of threats, ostracism and other means of coercion -- to get people not to indulge in dark fantasies. But, unless we can be confident there's a serious risk, I don't think the law should be getting involved.

Catelli said...

At least you're consistent. I must admit this discussion has made me reconsider things a bit. I'm not sold mind you, but I do realize that my own position is inconsistent. I lean toward supporting child-porn legislation, but I just wanted a ban on the game. If abuse is wrong, why the different levels of legislation?

I'll have to chew on this for a bit.

ADHR said...

Fair enough. ;) The issue, as I see it, is with the basis for restricting individual freedom. You've got to have a basis or you're flailing. The one I've suggested is, I think, more permissive than you're comfortable with. The trick then will be to be more restrictive without being too restrictive.