Rape Day is a game where you can rape and murder during a zombie apocalypse. Rape Day is a game of story choices and does not include animation or voice acting. It is instead comprised of still images.
Its release on the gaming platform Steam has been canceled. In a statement, Valve, the company which owns Steam, says it has removed the game.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Desk Plant Created the Game
“Rape Day contains 500 images and over 7,000 words enabling the player to ‘verbally harass, kill, and rape women as [they] choose to progress the story,’ according to its now-removed Steam product page,” reports Vice.
We respect developers’ desire to express themselves, and the purpose of Steam is to help developers find an audience, but this developer has chosen content matter and a way of representing it that makes it very difficult for us to help them do that.
Rape Day does not have a rating due to its digital-only release but would likely be rated Adult-Only by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. The ESRB was founded in 1994 a non-profit organization that assigns ratings for video games and apps.
2. The Game is Testing the Limits of Free Speech
“The preview page for Rape Day shows 25 screenshots of the game, which include nude women being sexually assaulted and held at gunpoint,” reports Business Insider.
In a policy change statement on June 6, 2018, Steam said it would let virtually anything legal onto its platform.
“The challenge is that this problem is not simply about whether or not the Steam Store should contain games with adult or violent content. Instead, it’s about whether the Store contains games within an entire range of controversial topics – politics, sexuality, racism, gender, violence, identity, and so on. In addition, there are controversial topics that are particular to games – like what even constitutes a ‘game’, or what level of quality is appropriate before something can be released,” the company writes.
3. The Game Prompted a Petition
Even though only users of the Steam platform can see games, Rape Day prompted Cecilia Cosenza to start a petition on Change.org where thousands have petitioned the game’s release.
“We need to let reviewers know that a game centered on raping and killing women is unacceptable and cannot hit the market,” Cosenza writes.
In 2011, a US Supreme Court decision on Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association hat video game content could not be regulated by governments, and are protected by the First Amendment.
4. Links Between Video Game Playing and Actual Behavior Are Inconsistent
Whether media influences behavior, particularly in adolescents, is long debated.
“Along with Frederic Wertham’s crusade against comic books during the 1950s, similar concerns have been raised over violence in movies, television, and the Internet though the link between media violence and violent behaviour in children has never been reliably demonstrated,” reports Psychology Today.
In his review of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, Christopher J. Ferguson noted “A lack of real agreement over whether a consistent relationship between video game violence and real-life violence.”
5. Steam’s Decision Cites Unknown Costs, not Ethics
Steam takes 30% of all sales made on the platform. The site hosts around 30,000 games. Valve, Steam’s parent company, was launched in 1998.
In its statement canceling the release, Steam says the game “poses unknown costs and risks.”
“Already, the game has been modified to avoid potential content issues — in one news update, the creator says they got rid of a “baby killing scene” in case it gets marked as child exploitation,” reports Polygon.
The game’s creator, who calls the game a “dark comedy” intends to move forward with distribution on another platform, according to its website.
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