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click opera - The artificial rape of simulated girls
February 2010
 
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Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 04:48 am
The artificial rape of simulated girls

A message popped up in my mailbox from someone called Rob. "I was curious if you had any thoughts on this rather disturbing Japanese videogame," he asked. I clicked through to Boing Boing and read an article entitled Amazon Sells Rape Simulation Game. It turned out to be based on a breathless, scarlet-faced Belfast Telegraph piece that went, approximately: "shocking rape simulator Rapelay... set in Japan... sickening game description on Amazon... an MP plans to raise the issue in Parliament..."



I immediately made plans to raise the matter in Click Opera, the closest I have to a personal parliament. My first three thoughts, for hansard and for the house:

1. Moral panics tend to happen in artforms when they're at their most culturally-relevant.

2. The whole point of computer simulation is to do things you couldn't do in real life, for various reasons. As I once sang in a song, "in life remain considerate, in art the devil incarnate... in games there should be no forbidden things".

3. I showed Hisae clips from the game. She found them hilarious and is now pestering me to get Rapelay at all costs.

The company that makes the "shocking" game is called -- just in case anyone is under the illusion that we're dealing with reality -- Illusion. The reason Hisae laughed so much was that the "raped" girls have such a prissy and camp way of expressing their dismay that you can't take the thing seriously. "Not with that uncircumcized thing!" one declares, in the tones of a lady asking a passerby not to let his poodle foul the footpath. The girls also have fairly ludicrous mammary dimensions.

Hisae's favourite game in the Illusion catalogue is Oppai Slider, a game focused on phallus-breast contact, or paizuri. Mine is Hako: Tiny Box Girl, in which the player keeps a tiny girl in a cardboard box, drowning her occasionally in tidal waves of sperm. Hako seems to be based on Makoto Aida's Edible Artificial Girls series, about which questions have not yet, to my knowledge, been asked in parliament. (Perhaps if we get a journalist to call up an MP? By the way, does the Honourable Member know that Aida has quite explicitly stated that these girls are "pain free"?)



Hisae told me that these games are called eroge, erotic games. The Wikipedia entry on eroge blames them on big Japanese computer-makers in the 80s: "NEC was behind its competitors in terms of hardware (with only 16 colors and no sound support) and needed a way to regain control of the market. Thus came the erotic game. Early eroge had simple stories, often involving rape." So there you go. If sales are slow, throw in a bit of simulated rape and you're away. The games have a curious tendency -- in this account, anyway -- to soften pretty quickly into "love simulation" and "sweetly sentimental stories of high school love".

For those who believe that they're likely to harden into real-world rape, one useful comment under the Boing Boing piece charted the ratio of government censorship to real world rape in three countries, showing a negative correlation between permissiveness and actual rape:

Australia: censorship of books, films, games and comics: 0.777999 rapes per 1,000 people.
USA: censorship varies between states, free speech codified in constitution: 0.301318 rapes per 1,000 people.
Japan: rape sims are, apparently, for sale: 0.017737 rapes per 1,000 people. (Source.)

The games are certainly odd. In Rapelay, for instance, you can tell from the girls' expressions how likely they are to get pregnant. Slightly flushed cheeks show they're on their period, open eyes show normal receptivity, and closed eyes show high fertility and a good chance to conceive.

I suppose the antithesis of these games featuring reluctant artificial girls is the American Ariane B dating simulator. A succession of still pictures, the game is also a procession of tedious efforts to procure Ariane's permission to proceed to the next stage. Mendokusai, as they say in Japan. You know, if you're a himote or unpopular young guy, the very last thing you want is a girl simulation program that makes things as difficult for you as they are in everyday life. If you want a challenge, however, there's always Battle Raper 2, in which you have to knock the clothes off your girl opponent item by item, before getting to choose the camera angles from which to watch her writhing (breathing sexily) naked on the marble floor. Ooof!



If we're discussing disturbing games full of violence against women, how about Left Behind: Eternal Forces, a game in which you command a paramilitary fundamentalist army in a post-apocalyptic New York, converting Jews, mainstream Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Buddhists, and anyone else you find to fundamentalist Christianity. All who resist are killed. The sick part is that the Pentagon chose this game to send, at the expense of taxpayers, to US troops serving in Iraq.

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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 10:50 am (UTC)

That's CRAZYTALK.


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relax - (Anonymous) Expand
krskrft
krskrft
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 04:52 am (UTC)

There was a big dust-up about this on the feminist blog Jezebel yesterday-ish.

The problem I have with critics of these types of simulated experiences is how they attempt, via unassailable outrage, to shut down any and all discussion of the erotics of fantasies dealing with consent. The comments section was spewing off in every direction, but the one rule that seemed to prevail was that there was no questioning the absolute abhorrence of this game. This was based, as usual, on the foregone conclusion that life imitates art, so obviously RapeLay was going to be training a new generation of rapists. One commenter who tried to criticize the overbearing outrage--that, in a world with GTA and Fallout 3 and plenty of other ultra-violent video games, and also real life, ongoing wars between nations and cultures, we should single out for such virulent criticism an eroge game targeted to an adult niche population in Japan, which probably hasn't sold more than 50,000 copies--was basically shouted down, and people called on the moderator to instantly ban this person, even though there was nothing harrassing or vile in his/her statements.

I saw an article recently about a scientific study in which men and women had their levels of arousal measured (by blood flow to the naughty bits) when shown rape fantasy pornography. They found that both men and women became physically aroused while watching these scenarios, despite verbal statements to the contrary when questioned.

The point seems to be that, when people become aroused by fantasies of rape, or fantasies dealing with the wide range of possible consent scenarios, they are not expressing a desire to rape somebody (or to be raped), but rather are engaging in a suspension of disbelief, like at the movies ... taking somebody without consent (even though consent is built into the very process of the mental fantasy moving forward), or being taken without consent (even though the fantasy requires that you be willing to continue fantasizing).

In other words, in RapeLay, the computer, I presume, does not "fight back" even as the characters on the screen express dismay or dissatisfaction at the unfolding events. What would such fighting back even look like? Would the program be coded to give itself a percentage chance of crashing, like a D&D dice roll? The idea that this is "rape" is just present enough to allow the user to suspend disbelief, to forget that they're willing it to occur, and that the computer program is willing to make it happen, via actually a rather generic and typical set of visual tools.

I guess what I dislike most about the lion's share of discourse surrounding the issue is how the anti- people tend to use really vague, undefended claims as crutches. They argue that this "legitimizes" or "advocates" or "trains" or "reinforces," without ever examining what it means to fantasize about these things, that it may not be, and certainly is not usually, born of an actual desire to live out the real life scenario.


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ferricide
ferricide
christian nutt
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 08:48 am (UTC)

50k? way less:

http://zepy.momotato.com/2007/03/01/eroge-sales-rankings-year-2006/

it's not even in the top 20 eroge from 2006 (the year it came out in japan, according to wikipedia) and #20 sold 21,725.


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krskrft
krskrft
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 04:58 am (UTC)

Oh, and the Jezebel comments were, oddly enough, full of completely unchecked bigotry against the Japanese. As usual, there's a double standard in which, when an American individual or corporation releases an objectionable product, that individual/corporation is deemed reprehensible, but if a product like RapeLay is released by a small eroge producer, the entirety of Japan is deemed screwed up and perverted. This is such a pervasive mindset, even among normally level-headed, intelligent Westerners. I've seen plenty of smart people forced to double back and rethink their conception of what it means to pin a cultural quirk on the entire Korean population. I'd assume the same thing is fairly common in reference to Japanese culture as well.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 06:39 am (UTC)

Your comments seem to hinge a good deal on the fact that Hisae found it amusing. I wonder how you would have responded if she had taken offence?


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oscar_dom
oscar_dom
Dominika
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 06:40 am (UTC)

I think the game looks hilarious, but I'm wondering how legitimate those statistics are on rape and the correlation between rape and censorship. Isn't it also a possibility that rape might be less likely to be reported in Japan?


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krskrft
krskrft
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 07:22 am (UTC)

I think the correlation is probably completely fictional, or at least a lot more complex than it would seem. But I think it's fair game to make note of these statistics when you're dealing with people who argue the opposite premise: that life imitates art, and games like RapeLay stand to increase the occurrence of rape. I think it would be silly to argue that these statistics bear out a claim that RapeLay reduces rape, but at the same time, the prove the important point that the existence of these types of simulated experiences doesn't exacerbate the issue, either.


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loveishappiness
loveishappiness
O.H.
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 06:41 am (UTC)

American video game blogger Leigh Alexander writes interesting stuff about eroge:

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/column_the_aberrant_gamer/


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wolodymyr
wolodymyr
wolodymyr
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 07:51 am (UTC)

This is a great link! Thanks.


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wolodymyr
wolodymyr
wolodymyr
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 07:42 am (UTC)

So gamers have had a frustrating life experience they can try to experience-against with this game. What's fair game for counterexperience? Could we also have a kill-your-rapist game? Or a kill-your-political-opponent game? I suppose your last example verges close to that, except it's not really personal, it's not one-on-one revenge for the painful personal experience of the player. Does making it personal make it better?

These aren't rhetorical questions, I don't think they lead to any obvious reductio-thus-my-point.

I am, however, agreed with the person who notes how much you make of the reaction/ cultural analysis of ONE person. I mean, you could also go to a bar where someone's getting gang-raped in the back and find a girl on the premises who thinks it's totally fine because that cocktease deserved it. If your argument's good (which I think it basically is) you don't need the one-native-reader sample set.


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lightelation
lightelation
lightelation
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 07:43 am (UTC)

As krskrft talks about, I think that fantasies related to consent are so taboo in our society that it seems criminal to even indulge in those thoughts. How should we treat a game? Simply an extension of someone's fantasies, unrelated to their daily behavior? Simulation more close to actually experiencing the crime (and inciting further desire to enact it)? I think it's easy to dismiss a game as just a game, as "art" unrelated to "real life," but I think sometimes there are objects/movies/songs/etc. that become a part of ruminating rituals that lead to real things like suicide, cutting, physical violence. There is a definite correlation between violent game use and more aggressive behavior and violent crime. Correlation of course does not equal causation, but I feel that in our information saturated age, it's easier to totally immerse ourselves in a world of our choosing, be it ultimately destructive or not.

Essentially, I don't think the pervasiveness of these sorts of games proves anything about real gender relations in Japan, just that people have fewer qualms about producing and buying things that are totally indulgent (versus repressing or ignoring these kinds of desires).

And as oscar_dom mentioned.. I'm sure rape is extremely under reported in Japan and then on top of that the numbers are probably fudged with.


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krskrft
krskrft
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 03:05 pm (UTC)

But I don't think anybody here is dismissing it as "just a game." Obviously we can say far more about the game than that. It's obviously pornographic, and it exists in order to fulfill a certain kind of fantasy.

I think the problem we face when we talk about this kind of thing is that we're equating fantasy with reality, and desire with real behavior. We make the assumption that a desire fulfilled as a fantasy is equivalent to expressing the wish that it could happen in reality. And I don't think that's the case at all. People fantasize about all sorts of things that they would never actually do, i.e. killing the evil boss. Things that, in a real life scenario, they would actually likely recoil from.

And honestly, the jury is out on the supposed correlation between video game use and aggressive behavior/violent crime (especially the violent crime part). I believe I saw a study recently which found that video games triggered the physical-chemical state of aggression, but that it didn't necessarily lead to subjects acting out aggressively.


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eptified
eptified
H. Duck
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 07:54 am (UTC)

Lord help us if the Belfast Telegraph ever finds out about the internet.


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skazat
skazat
Alex à Paris
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 08:44 am (UTC)

It would be unsettling to me to find out that the largest detractors of these types of games are, secretly, their most vehement players. I can't help but think of the right-wing higher ups in the US government, who had a loud voice against homosexuality, but in fact where gay themselves. The sad part was their fear and hatred of themselves, which is sad.

Video games - if we take them for art, would really fill a good place in exploring such "out of bounds" topics. The response has already become polarized.

Video games aren't going to get any less realistic, their flexibility in just what they portray and how they go about such things is just going to get a whole lot more expansive.

This does kind of remind me of a interview with Zak Smith, a well known artist (he did have a very large piece in a Whitney Biennial). He also does (did, doing?) pornography and he was asked what he thought of less mainstream (safe, puritan) sexual acts - some of which looked as if they were perhaps, degrading to women. His response was that it was the women who enjoyed those acts the most and would be the ones who would request it. I should really cite my resource on that one, but food for thought - it's probably true that we're a whole lot kinkier, as a species than we're allowed to believe :)


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ferricide
ferricide
christian nutt
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 08:56 am (UTC)

ultimately this has the same effect of a lot of moral panics: this game's profile has been raised tremendously by any mainstream attention it's getting now; as mentioned above, it seems to have sold less than 21,000 copies in japan upon its release and i doubt it's sold anything even approaching that in the west, either.

but that's how it is, of course. the cycle always repeats. find something from the niche-within-a-niche and blast it as an example of what a despised medium is about. it reinforces your point about games becoming a target, despite the fact that even within the game industry, this game and company were total nonentities until this drummed-up controversy.

for a really amusingly strange eroge, there's always somethingawful's review of water closet: the forbidden chamber.

oh, and yes, as you mentioned, the vast majority of eroge have incredibly sappy melodramatic romantic content. and the ero scenes are actually so inessential to the core adventure gameplay that the most popular games are often ported to home game consoles (e.g. xbox 360) with the sex scenes stripped out (console manufacturers, who control the content on their systems, won't allow erotic content in games.)

then you're left with a menu-driven choose-your-own adventure "visual novel" typically. that's a genre that also exists in japan in large numbers in completely non-erotic (works so intended from inception, i mean) instances on all major gaming platforms. they're not popular for translation into english (professionally) because they're expensive to translate but don't sell that well to US gamers. you'll find more instances of them on the nintendo DS these days, however. one of the more notable titles (published by nintendo in japan/US/europe) is a 1970s-themed detective game called "hotel dusk" -- http://www.hoteldusk.com/

Edited at 2009-02-14 09:02 am (UTC)


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 09:22 am (UTC)
should rape be decriminalised? (happy valentines day!)

it is, really, putting a modest spongy object where nature designed it to go.

it is definitely bullying, but is it anything more than that?

if it comes accompanied by assault and brutality, those can be separate crimes. the insertion of the penis itself doesn't add anything to that. a punch in the nose is worse.

people with thin skins will always crumble and let every little things destroy their lives. thick skinned people just laugh it off


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bricology
bricology
bricology
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 07:46 pm (UTC)
Re: should rape be decriminalised? (happy valentines day!)

Rape is decriminalized in Japan, in that a husband can rape his wife with impunity. There's no such thing as spousal rape laws there; when he wants it, he can get it, no matter what she wants.


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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 10:41 am (UTC)

Look, this is just boring now. Not selling something because customers complain is customer service, not ~*~censorship~*~. And misogyny is misogyny no matter what kind of violence or creator, so being all LOLOL RAPEGAMES like some kind of /b/tard doesn't make you any more edgy than all the other apologists.

I wish I had the stamina to write some Cale gangrape porn of you, but I feel ill enough already, so here, have some PAGERAPE instead.





































































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trickseybird
trickseybird
Bruce Springsteen, you're not the boss of me
Wed, Feb. 18th, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC)

The best kind of rape is rapinsteen!


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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 10:47 am (UTC)

RAEP RAEP RAEP RAEP RAEP RAEP RAEP RAEP RAEP RAEP































































































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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 10:54 am (UTC)

YO DAWG, WE HERD YOU LIKE RAPE, SO WE PUT A RAPE IN YOUR PAGE SO YOU CAN RAPE WHILE YOU RAPE!








































































































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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 11:00 am (UTC)
Oh gracious, just look at the time















































































































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trickseybird
trickseybird
Bruce Springsteen, you're not the boss of me
Wed, Feb. 18th, 2009 01:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Oh gracious, just look at the time

NO ONE WILL GET PREGGERS WITH THAT JOHNNY!


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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 11:05 am (UTC)




























































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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 11:09 am (UTC)
the artificial laep of simulated pages











































































































And now I feel too feverish to stay on and must go to rest and replenish my stock of renato gifs.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 11:29 am (UTC)

You know damn well rape is under-reported in Japan.


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krskrft
krskrft
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 03:11 pm (UTC)

It's underreported everywhere. So you'd have to believe that it's underreported at some insanely higher rate in Japan in order to reason that Japan's sexual assault rate is higher than America's.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 11:35 am (UTC)
Totally off topic

http://fora.tv/2009/01/26/The_Future_of_City_Design

Thought you might find this interesting. On the redesign of Berlin's Tiergarten, using a videogame to depict it as the city's zone of 'forbidden' zone. Starts at chapter 10. Not so well presented as because the chair hogs the floor.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 12:00 pm (UTC)

You want to have your cake and eat. On the one hand, simulated rape is acceptable, because it's not real. On the other hand, simulated violence is bad, and it's sick that one such violent game was sent to US troops. Why is it sick if it's not real? Would it be alright if the US troops were sent games about raping Arab women?


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dogsolitude_v2
dogsolitude_v2
dogsolitude_v2
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 12:07 pm (UTC)

Well, the game sent to the troops was a blatent bit of right-wing Christian propaganda, which I think was the point of the objection rather than the violence. Troops are trained to shoot and kill, defend and attack and so worrying about sending them a videogame on the basis of the violent content would be a little odd!

I read it as illustrating the hypocrisy surrounding these games, i.e. that it's OK to send out violent Christian right-wing propoganda to troops, but not to sell the games described in the article, and so the double standards are on the part of the establishment, not Momus!


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dogsolitude_v2
dogsolitude_v2
dogsolitude_v2
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 12:01 pm (UTC)

It's weird: I've knifed, sniped and chainsawed my way through loads of video games.

I've incinerated enemy troops with superhot plasma, sniped at guards from darkened corners of warehouses, chainsawed rival gangs into pieces.

I've even cast spells on people to turn them insane.

This is obviously OK in the eyes of the media. It's taken for granted that dismemberment and 'gibbage' is a part of gaming. Yet the moment two people start shagging there's an outrage about it: remember the stuff about the Hot Coffee mod in Grand Theft Auto?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_Coffee_mod

For the record though, I'm a pretty peaceful guy. I never get into fights or anything, and could certainly never kill anyone in real life. Likewise I could certainly never rape anyone. >_<

Anyway, back to my copy of Fallout 3... Or maybe I'll play Okami or Ico instead, or challenge Ms Rhapsody to another game of Unreal Tournament 2004 (she usually trounces me on that)...


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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 12:29 pm (UTC)












































































































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(Anonymous)
Sun, Feb. 15th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)

You rarely see the desire to censor expressed in such a beautiful way.


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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 12:33 pm (UTC)


























































































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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Sat, Feb. 14th, 2009 12:36 pm (UTC)

















































































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slowtiger
slowtiger
Sun, Feb. 15th, 2009 12:47 pm (UTC)

electricwitch: what's the sense in repeatedly including an animated gif 30 times in a posting? please stop this, it's annoying.


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