Video game let’s you get in touch with your inner rapist

woman targeted

From Japan, the font of video game technology, comes a new game that is possibly the most offensive video game ever produced. The game is RapeLay, a rape simulator game. Yes, you read that right. RapeLay allows you to play a sexual predator in the subway.

RapeLay is surprisingly realistic in its portrayal of the rapist as power hungry sexual deviant. Gaming journalist Leigh Alexander (of websites Gamasutra and SexyVideogameland) thoughtfully downloaded and played the game, so you don’t have to:

The game begins with a man standing on a subway platform, stalking a girl in a blue sundress… Once she’s on the train, the assault begins. Inside the subway car, you can use the mouse to grope your victim as you stand in a crowd of mute, translucent commuters. From here, your character corners his victim—in a station bathroom, or in a park with the help of male friends—and a series of interactive rape scenes begins.

… Although the interactive assaults are difficult to endure if you have a conscience, the game’s text actually provides the most unsettling material. RapeLay relies on the horrendous, wildly sexist fantasy that rape victims enjoy being attacked. After the exposition, the game essentially becomes a simulator of consensual intercourse. There’s kissing. The women orgasm.

The game is realistic in yet another way. It portrays the Japanese phenomenon of the chikan, the subway pervert. The details of chikan, a real practice, not a video game, are horrifying. According to the book The Japanese Disease: Sex and Sleaze in Modern Japan, by Declan Hayes:

… The molestation-minded men get together through the Internet, brazenly advertising for interested parties to join their ranks in chikan associations…

The chikan groups are incredibly thorough, picking out a particular target and trailing her for months until they have a minutely detailed knowledge of her commuting habits. Once they decide to implement their plan to molest her, group members are instructed to board the crowded train at different stations and stand in the particular part of the carriage that … target normally occupies… Once they’re all in the same carriage, they immediately set about surrounding the target and shutting off all possible avenues of escape… [M]embers of the group with go hell for leather groping, poking and molesting the target they have surrounded…

The back-story of RapeLay is that you are a wealthy man out for revenge after being outted as a chikan. As a result:

The objective … is for your “character” to stalk then brutally rape women, as many as possible. Wait, there is a catch: before your character can go into “free mode” to rape other women in the game, he must first rape a mother and her two young daughters, who have “falsely accused you [him] of raping them.” Now the big twist: you cannot get any of the women pregnant. If you do impregnate a woman, you must force her to have an abortion because if she has the child you will be thrown under a train… With several users playing the game, it is possible to gang rape the women …

Not surprisingly, the video game offers politicians an irresistible opportunity to grandstand. New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has publicly called for all US video game distributors to refuse to sell Rapelay. Considering that the game has not been released in the US market, the call for a ban is unnecessary. Potential distributors such as Amazon.com and Overstock.com have already announced that they will not carry it. Moreover, a ban is meaningless, since the game is widely available over the Internet.

Will Rapelay encourage players to commit rape in real life? Clearly there is a connection between sexual predation (chikan) and a video game that glorifies rape. The game makers are explicit about this connection. Undoubtedly, those who belong to chikan associations will be drawn to the game, but there is far from obvious that playing the game will turn men into sexual predators. Rapelay is offensive, appalling and worthy of condemnation, but is it harmful? That remains to be seen.

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