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Violation: Rape in Games

October 16, 2012

Just found out about this book of essays on the issue of rape in games (videogames, tabletop rpgs, etc.):

Violation: Rape in Games

(Sidenote: I’m going to read this at some point, but that cover is fucking foul.)

Anyway, the general questions it posits, I pretty much put in the same category I do racism and other things that show up in games – that gaming is not a special medium different than other media in regards to how these things appear – they reflect the culture of the people who create the games and the people who play them, as much as books, tv, music, movies, comics, etc.

The only major difference is that while rape in media often is an act of aggression – whether that is portraying violence against a character as a way of showing punishment, a form of excitement, or devaluing them as a tool to push a plot point, rather than saying something meaningful, it’s not directed personally like fictional rape BETWEEN players. (I count GMs as players in this fashion)

And it comes down to the same two points that I often bring up in these discussions about problematic stuff in games:

1. How is this fun, and why did you think it would be fun to add to the game?

2. Did everyone know this was going to be part of game play or a potential topic in game?

Nearly always, people have blustery bullshit derails that never really address this, because the unfortunate real answer is almost always, “I didn’t think at all, it was fun for me, and even though I say I think it’s totally ok and cool, I made sure to SURPRISE people by throwing it in because I know if I talked to them about it ahead of time, they would have probably shut it down.”

I mean, what would you think if your friend opened your wallet, “borrowed” $100 without asking first and then told you after being called on it they thought it would be ok, even though they had plenty of opportunities to ask you and chose not to?

Or worse than that, “It was fun for me and you needed to be taught a lesson.”

In the end, people always show you what they’re about, regardless of what they say.

And of course, it’s not like this aggression is formed in a vacuum – who gets targeted for this behavior are the same people who are targeted for aggressive behavior in real life. And the rationales and reasoning is often the same as well.

Rape in games reflects the same issues of violence, kyriarchy and rape culture in society in general – as much as any other media form.

I look forward to reading this and seeing what others have found, though it’s not like “change society as a whole” is something anyone can come up with an easy answer for.

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