It’s 2019 and women are still consistently targeted for sexual harassment and assault at an alarming rate. Sexual violence toward women is not only normalized in media, but glorified in everything from music to pornography. Now, there’s a video game where the plot is to rape women during a zombie apocalypse. WTF?!
Violence in video games is normal. And studies have proven that violence in video games do not contribute to violent behavior in children and teens, contrary to the claims of politicians. But developer Desk Plant’s Rape Day is not a typical, violent game. The game is about sexually harassing, killing and raping women. That’s it. And that’s a problem.
From the developer via Steam, as it’s being reviewed by Valve at the time of writing:
Control the choices of a menacing serial killer rapist during a zombie apocalypse. Verbally harass, kill, and rape women as you choose to progress the story.
It's a dangerous world with no laws. The zombies enjoy eating the flesh off warm humans and brutally raping them but you are the most dangerous rapist in town.
Rape Day is a choice driven visual novel. It does not include grinding or any other time wasting activities. So skip the foreplay and enjoy your Rape Day; you deserve it.
Basically, it’s the end of the world. You’re entitled to women’s bodies, so take what’s yours. And the developer sees nothing wrong with this line of thinking. He refers to his game as a “dark comedy” and wanted to create a game he himself “would want to play.” For the developer, it’s about freedom of speech, “But you can’t reasonable consider banning rape in fiction without banning murder and torture. Murder has been normalized in fiction, while rape has yet to be normalized.”
He has a point about violence in video games. And at the same time, he makes a false equivalency between normalized murder in media and wanting to normalize rape in fiction such as video games. The developer does admit that this game has to do with sexual power dynamics and getting society to a “loss of control.” While rape-play is big in the porn industry, why would he feel it necessary to be injected into video games?
He mentions that “In some way, every good fantasy is a power-fantasy…Porn is even more so about power” as if he’s speaking about an aspect of BDSM. And if he is speaking about a the power dynamics of rape-play or consensual non-consent, as it’s called in a BDSM, it’s based on trust, which is a huge factor in power-exchange.
Perhaps he doesn’t understand that women have been fighting for ownership of our own bodies for centuries. And in recent decades, having gained more and more rights and privileges to the point of equality, there have been counter-movements that call for the rape and ownership and reclamation of women. Women and girls are constantly sexually harassed, especially in the gaming community, to the point where many pretend to be boys or men to avoid harassment or refuse to speak on voice chat while playing team games. And no, this is not mere trolling. Being told, “I’m going to come to your house and rape you” because you are female and made a mistake in a game is not mere trolling. And we need to stop dismissing it as such.
On the developer’s page, it’s clear that he believes Valve should allow his game to be admitted to the Steam store because of freedom of speech, but he misunderstands that freedom of speech comes with limitations. He compared his game to GTA and others for their criminal acts and excessive violence. But what he misunderstands is that those games, though violent, including allowing the player to commit murder, rape and theft, do not target a group of people solely for the pleasure of killing, raping and murdering. And though freedom of speech and expression are deemed a human right, that right is forfeit when it calls for the the harm of another person or group of people. This game does that in that its sole purpose is to verbally and sexually harass, rape and murder women. That this takes place during a zombie apocalypse has no bearing on the intent of the game to “normalize rape.”
The developer fails to acknowledge that the sexual harassment, rape, and murder of women is not only normalized in pop culture, but carries little legal consequences in the real world, unless you’re a person of color (that’s a whole other topic). Date rape and sexual harassment are prominent in pop songs like “I Made It” by Rich Homie Quan "I don’t want your ho, just want that cookie from her / She tried to resist, so I took it from her / How are you gonna tell me no? You must not know who I am." And “U.O.E.N.O “ by Rick Ross saying, “Poured Molly in her champagne, she aint even know it/ I took her home and enjoyed that, she aint even know it.”
Ironically, while postulating that “Moral outrage of a vocal minority may be enough to cause Steam to ban my game and/or myself,” the developer removed a baby-killing scene from the game because he didn’t want to cause “avalanches of outrage .” This demonstrates where how he values women. He does not. We do not need rape and sexual harassment more normalized than it already is.
Do you think this type of game should be fair game to publish?
Edit: shortly before hitting publish on this article, the game was removed from Steam, and the developer’s Deviant Art page was deactivated. Shortly after publication, his game’s website was removed. Links have been updated to reflect these changes.