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.