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Japanese Rape Video Game: Rapelay

September 21, 2009

My friend Kelly sent me an email today asking me if I’d heard of the Japanese Rape game in which you get to choose your victim. I’m probably the last person to hear about this since I seem to live in a separate time zone when it comes to current information. For instance, my mother asked me if I knew that Patrick Swayze had died and before I got a chance to answer she added: “If you don’t, lie to me.” More often than not, I haven’t heard about whatever current news she brings up, which pisses her off to no extent. 

So, when I got Kel’s facebook message I hadn’t heard of this game, but after a quick google search I found a ton of information. 

Here’s the lowdown: 

  • It’s a video game in which the player rapes women. 
  • You have the option to choose between certain outcomes (i.e. you can impregnate your victim).
  • The victims enjoy being raped (i.e. they orgasm).
  • If you choose to impregnate your victim she can a) have an abortion or b) throw herself under a train. 

There’s been a widespread revolt against this game, which has lead to it being banned from the U.S. and from Amazon.com, although there are other online sources where you can purchase it or even download a free pirated copy. I’ve never been on board with the whole let’s ban violence from T.V. or let’s blame violent behavior on video games. I strongly believe in free speech and the right to create whatever it is you want and put it out there, but what worries me is that this kind of game is something that people want to play and presumably get off doing so. 

This game troubles me, because I’m not sure what to make of it. Let’s be honest here, rape is a very large problem in our society, HUGE really, but when it comes to virtual reality, whether it’s on paper, on screen or in your mind there’s also a large component of people (men and women) who  indulge in rape fantasies. 

Most women will agree that being raped would probably be one of the worst things that could ever happen to them or to any other women, but some of those woman also integrate violence in their fantasies or into their sexual lives. The psychology of this phenomena could probably be discussed at length and it’s one hell of a good topic to get into, but I personally don’t want to pass judgment on the morality of anybody’s fantasies (I mean there are limits, children being one of them). 

Rape has personally been on the top of the list of things I fear most, but I’ve also downloaded a couple porn clips that feature bondage and violence in a way that was filmed to appear non-consensual, and I’ve been turned on. Hell, I love japanese porn anime and a lot of that features demon rape fests, and I’ve never paused to ask myself whether that was wrong or not or why that turns me on in the first place. Sure, it’s probably messed up, but sexual fetishes, turn ons, and fantasies shouldn’t always be examined so closely. They serve their purpose. 

Just like going to see a movie or a play that deals with fucked up human behavior and pain can lead to a sort of catharsis, so can your sexual fantasies. Dreams, thoughts, fantasies, it’s how we process things. But this game, it just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t feel comfortable with it. It makes me question what the fuck is wrong with our society, but it also makes me question myself, because torture and murder are definitely on par with rape in terms of how wrong and fucked up it is, but I don’t have the same feeling towards games that portray torture and murder. Maybe, it’s because you never see a murder victim enjoy his or her own demise. Maybe, it’s because I’m a chick and this offends my delicate sensibilities. 

Maybe, I’m just concerned that like so many other things this game will enter the collective subconscious and make it that much easier to dismiss rape and make it seem like a jolly good time. 

I really hope it doesn’t. 

13 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2009 7:03 pm

    My first reaction is, “Oh, it’s Japanese? Of course it is. Japanese people are sick and twisted.” Just look at their culture, where underage school girls are the most in-demand for sexual purposes, their tentacle porn, their bizarre censorship of REAL women while CARTOON women can be drawn in any manner of abusive, degrading, rape-y scenarios.

    While I certainly don’t believe that all Japanese people are into this, I also don’t find it surprising that this comes from their culture, which is into degrading women generally.

    However, if the question is whether this should spread across the globe and be allowed in America, then my answer is an emphatic NO. I don’t want to believe that dudes who play too many violent video games will go out and shoot up their schools, but it has certainly happened. And I don’t think that violent video games alone are enough to encourage someone to act out what they see in those games. But I do think they’re not helping the matter of our violent society, where women are often the victims. Given that rape is already at epidemic levels, I don’t think it’s a smart idea to encourage dumb, impressionable boys who like video games to go out and rape–or even simulate it in a game like this.

  2. September 21, 2009 7:22 pm

    Well said. I really wish that censorship wasn’t an issue here and that people just wouldn’t want to play this game in the first place. The fact that the idea germinated somewhere in someone’s mind and they thought “Hell, let’s make this game” really bothers the hell out of me.

    Have you ever heard of Nasubi? Check out the wiki entry to read about the most fucked up reality tv show ever in which a man was imprisoned and filmed without his knowledge. The guy had a nervous breakdown when they tore down the fourth wall and revealed the live tv audience.

  3. Liz permalink
    September 26, 2009 8:13 am

    I feel inspired to say a lot of things here. First, I gotta applaud you on your balanced portrayal of the game and of your thoughts on it. I like the fact that you didn’t just launch into some diatribe, venting about how disgusting the game is.

    I feel incredibly conflicted. I always have this nagging feeling when is I see things like this that they might be helpful to someone who cannot control their sexual impulses… Aeons ago when I took a psychology of sex class in CEGEP, I read about how exploring fantasies like this can be a means of prevention in that the person who wants to go out and rape someone or flash them or whatever can live out their fantasies to a degree and feel less inclined to actually go out and do them.

    I also like how you mention how some women even have these fantasies – to a degree, myself included. I think that we get these desires based on the simple fact that taboos are exciting. As well, things that are so horrific can be controlled, toned down, and faced when we give them some appeal, no matter how twisted. It’s almost like mental preparation, just in case.

    That being said, there’s that part of me, like you, who just can’t accept it. At worst, the most harassment I’ve ever received was being flashed a couple of times by a man masturbating. Once was on the metro in Montreal. I was about 20 years old, it was the last train of the night, and I rushed home crying and scared. The second time was when I was living in Beijing last year in the middle of my neighbourhood and I chased him down the street screaming expletives in Chinese. It was cathartic and stupid to say the least but I scared him more than he scared me, I think.

    The problem with this kind of harassment is that it is EXCLUSIVELY a gender issue. There’s just no denying it. And though women can sexually harass men, it’s just totally different. As women we just have to band together, try to understand the root of these behaviours, and stop them at all costs. It’s our instinct, I think. Even though this could be therapeutic in certain cases, it’s just not a mainstream, Sunday afternoon game. Who could even pretend that something like this is ok?

  4. Liz permalink
    September 26, 2009 8:19 am

    I don’t think it’s fair that you stigmatize the Japanese in this way, especially using words like “sick” and “twisted”. All cultures have their sexual taboos, and all cultures break them and display them in varying ways. We have our own brand of degrading women in pornography, magazines, television… And there are such things as snuff films, which come straight out of North America and are arguably worse in that these are actual creations of women being literally raped and beaten. In fact, it’s arguable that although bizarre and fake and degrading, doing so in animated form is the ultimate fantasy in that absolutely none of it involves human beings except for the creators and the animators who arguably enjoy what they are doing.

    I agree that the game is pretty disgusting… I feel angry and frustrated and sad that this sort of thing even exists, but please don’t assume that it’s the Japanese who are “fucked up”, we all are.

  5. September 26, 2009 7:11 pm

    Sorry Laura, but I have to agree with Liz here.

  6. September 26, 2009 7:29 pm

    There are some studies that show that these kind of fantasy outlets might be a way for people to prevent taking wrongful actions, but there are equally a number of people that think that these kinds of game will also normalize the actions portrayed on screen and make it that much easier to convince yourself that what you are doing or want to do is not so bad after all.

    The thought that scares me is that most sex crimes show a sort of escalation in the attackers behavior. A guy who starts off as a flasher might turn into a public masturbator. A public masturbator who then starts to get bolder and bolder and then might not only want to jerk-off in public, but might find the need to cum on the person who he’s following and on and on like that until he ends up raping someone.

    And who’s to say that he didn’t get his first kicks by playing a video game that normalizes rape.

    I just have this morbid thought of a bunch or high school kids playing this game and then that the group mentality will kick in and that they’ll all cheer each other on basically making any uneasiness with the subject matter of the game disappear.

  7. September 26, 2009 8:48 pm

    Liz: I would definitely agree that our own culture degrades women as well, but I find something particularly troubling about Japanese culture, where everything seems to be deemed okay, so long as it’s done in a “fantasy” or “fictional” context. Anime is allowed to depict any kind of inhumane ideas and situations, while real porn–and thus representations of real women (flaws and all) that might actually cure people of their twisted notions about what’s sexually acceptable–is outlawed. There’s something very bizarre to me about that.

    Of course, it’s hard to compare and say which is worse. We have plenty of people that enjoy the dirtiest of hardcore porn, and plenty of rapists, too. I’d be interested to see research comparing the two cultures, in terms of the numbers of rapists and repeat sex offenders as well as the saturation of pornography, though I suspect it’d hard to come up with hard numbers on these types of things.

  8. September 26, 2009 10:48 pm

    Laura: I’m not sure what you mean by real porn, are you referring to porn any kind of non-anime porn or porn that is closer to reality in terms of how it represents women and sex? I was just talking to Liz earlier today about the use of photoshop in print media and that coupled with your previous comment reminded me of this article I read the other day. I don’t remember the name of the article or what publication I found it in, but it told the story of a woman who had brought in a picture from a porn mag to a plastic surgeon and asked the doc to make her vagina look like the one in the picture. Now, as the story goes, the doc complied to the request and gave this woman a porn-tastic vagina, but the woman wasn’t please. As it turns out a vagina just like in the picture, which I’m assuming was probably severely photoshopped, was less than pleasing in real live. Her labia were now so small that wearing jeans was uncomfortable and actually kind of painful, since there wasn’t enough coverage to protect her clit. Kind of disturbing, isn’t it?

  9. September 27, 2009 9:42 am

    Olga: In terms of “real porn,” I just meant porn starring live humans, rather than cartoon characters. But, of course, there are many different variations on live porn, and I suppose there are very few professional porn stars who haven’t had implants, at least, if not also more advanced surgery on other bits. Still, the current trend seems to be for amateur porn, which involves people who aren’t professionals, and who may actually have bodies that are closer to the average human’s.

    I don’t think any porn can claim to be “closer to reality” than another. Porn is meant to be a fantasy; the question is, whose?

  10. Liz permalink
    September 29, 2009 9:46 am

    Laura: I kind of see what you mean about the differences in “live action” porn and, say, anime. To see a woman who is flesh and blood might inspire different feelings than an image created on paper. But I know someone who works in the industry as a graphic designer and he spends his days photoshopping out scars from fast and cheap breast-implant surgeries and any other sort of awkward blemish or scar. He often says that’s why they can take high definition pictures in porn but will never film it, because it would be near impossible to airbrush it. This a pretty huge company, as a side note.

    I don’t know if a side-by-side comparison is even really fair to determine which form of sexual deviance is more harmful… I’ve personally concluded that if it harms someone and impedes their freedom, it’s wrong. (Vague, ok, but wrong). And if it’s someone enacting a fantasy, in a private space, that harms no one and involves entirely consenting adults, then it’s none of my business. So long as it stays in that space.

  11. Liz permalink
    September 29, 2009 9:47 am

    Yeah… really good point. I fully agree.

  12. September 29, 2009 12:17 pm

    Liz: I’m willing to take it a step further though, I don’t think that it should necessarily stay “in that space”. I don’t mean that people should start banging each other on the street, but I would like to see a more open attitude towards sex (involving two consenting adults), and whether that is achieved through a more open discourse or the use of public media, I’m pretty alright with that. It might go a long way in destigmatizing negative attitudes about sex.

  13. September 29, 2009 12:27 pm

    I like the idea of asking “whose” fantasy it is in the first place. Who knows how many sexual preferences stem from learned behavior? I’m sure a lot of people have never questioned the status-quo of what they like and what they don’t. Well, in a way I’m sure everything stems from learned behavior, I guess it comes down to where you go looking for those answers. For some, it might not be a very long search and they might be satisfied with what comes easiest, that is to say mainstream media, which is constantly telling us what we like and what we don’t, but then again all media comes from the people who are behind it. We like it, they give us more, we like it because they keep giving us more. Kind of a catch-22.

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