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Censorship Entertainment Games

Japanese ESRB Bans Rape Depiction In Games 662

Posted by Soulskill
from the touchy-subjects dept.
eldavojohn writes "The Ethics Organization of Computer Software (EOCS), now 233 companies strong, and met in Tokyo yesterday to ban a controversial title from Japan known as RapeLay, an eroge game (something much more adult than the more popular dating simulators). It's gotten a lot of press as reviewers have noted at one point the player must force sex on a 12-year-old. More importantly, the large ($353 million annually) adult game industry in Japan will now need to stay away from rape in their games if they wish to remain a member of EOCS. RapeLay seems to be available on Amazon's UK and JP sites, sparking outrage and causing a former US Ambassador to Japan to write an editorial criticizing Japan, saying, 'Only Japan allows people to possess these hideous images without penalty. Six of the G-7 countries have found ways to protect the innocent from being prosecuted for possession of child pornography. Is it not time for Japan to find a way to punish the guilty?' Singapore's Straits Times has more details, pointing out that it's still not illegal to possess these materials in Japan. We discussed this and other games last month in an editorial."
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Japanese ESRB Bans Rape Depiction In Games

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:09AM (#28247539)

    Damn, the torrenting of this game is gonna skyrocket after the article. Teh forbidden fruit in action.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2009 @03:41AM (#28248009)

      The shitstorm over RapeLay isn't anything new, Slashdot is just yet again very, very late. Any wave of people downloading it out of curiosity has passed by now.

      And for any interested Slashdotters, if you're going to try to run it under Wine, don't bother. Like most Japanese programs it runs like shit under Wine. You'll have to settle for lesser rape games like I did. :(

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2009 @04:33AM (#28248355)

        It's not Slashdot's fault.

        The mainstream media picked up the "RapeLay controversy" some time in early 2009 when some focus-on-the-family groups in the US noticed it and started complaining about it.

        But the game is years old, and I think it was mostly a popular Bittorrent target after this 2007 Something Awful review [somethingawful.com].

        Ah, 2007. George W. Bush was president, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was above 12,000, credit was cheap and homes were expensive, and no one but forum goons knew about RapeLay. Those were good times.

        • Ah, 2007. George W. Bush was president, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was above 12,000, credit was cheap and homes were expensive, and no one but forum goons knew about RapeLay.

          But now times are hard and circuses too expensive to hold so frequently. And so, the masses must be occupied with something else. Moral outrage serves quite well in this regard.

          Think about it. Who honestly gives a flying fiddlers about some cartoon sex abuse in a game for Japanese recluses? Is this the kind of thing that keeps people in Nebraska up at night. No.

          People like outrage. It's a form of entertainment. People like to hear about all kinds of lurid and obscene stories so that they can feel morally superior and have an opportunity to get themselves all riled up. It's a great way to kill boredom. Just think about who gets the most interested in these moral crusades? It is hard working 9 to 5'ers who earn their keep and spend their free time productively. No. It's the TV addicts, and idle homewives, and OAPs who have nothing better to do with their time than get excited about what single Japanese men masturbate to.

          As soon as the cash runs dry and the good times are over, the moral reactionaries come crawling out of the woodwork. It's a fine time to be conservative. But rest assured when the money returns and people have the means to party again, these same people will swing the night away with the best of them.

      • by grantek (979387) on Monday June 08, 2009 @06:36AM (#28248949)

        There're some things that Tux should just not be involved with... *shudder*

      • by BarefootClown (267581) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @12:03AM (#28261345) Homepage

        You'll have to settle for lesser rape games like I did. :(

        So...TurboTax?

  • by MrMista_B (891430) on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:09AM (#28247541)

    Because oh no, those poor imaginary cartoon characters need judicial protection!

    Won't someone think of the imaginary children?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:16AM (#28247579)

    Penn Jillette speaks about Rape Lay:
    http://www.crackle.com/c/Penn_Says#id=2473058&ml=o%3D12%26fpl%3D360812%26fx%3D [crackle.com]

    I think I agree with him, especially on the parts about fantasy game violence.

  • by Meor (711208) on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:20AM (#28247605)
    Since when has Slashdot trumpeted fascism? Now we're cheering outlawing things because they're offensive?
  • Guilty of what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:24AM (#28247619)

    Raping a character in a video game is no more real than killing said character. At what point will we become liable for murder when playing a shooter? Put simply:

    There's no crime here, asshole. The only thing anyone is guilty of here, is pandering.

  • by Idiot with a gun (1081749) on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:27AM (#28247631)
    You know, there are many routes one can go to ban violent sexual video games/porn like this, and I'm not sure if I agree with the rational involved here. More or less, everything I've heard politicians spew (appropriate verb) about this stuff is basically "It causes people to go out and rape." Much like the dodgy connection between violent video games and real life violence (anecdotal evidence non-withstanding), I don't really buy it. Especially since each individual culture seems to have entirely different responses to various social laws. As a good example, banning guns in the US causes violent crime rates to rise (see: Washington DC), but Japan has far less of an issue, where guns have more or less been illegal for civilians since WWII. (Side note: I have not checked these numbers recently. Don't bother picking them out, it's an illustration that could rapidly be replaced with another to make the same point. Forrest for the trees and all that).

    On a different note though, one of my professors had a very good reason to ban violent pornography, without going for the correlation link (which he bought into anyways. Professors are human after all). We had just finished reading J.S. Mills' On LIberty, which more or less states that "The only reason to abridge a person's personal freedom is harm to others. Moral disgust is not an adequate reason to stop someone, unless if they are going to harm someone else directly or indirectly (Say, if by being an alcoholic they are incapable of parental duties, etc)." His point was, if this pornographic material spreads the ideology that women are sexual objects existing only for men's pleasure, which causes women to self-censor themselves and their ideas due to peer pressure, fear, or general brain washing, then it must be banned.

    But, politicians aren't arguing this, because they don't actually care about freedom, they care about making it look like they're doing something in order to ensure re-election. Because 90% of "concerned" parents in the suburbs are going to say "Rape is bad, rape games depict rape, so it must enforce rape, and this politician banning rape games must be fighting rape! Vote for him!" And we just helped him too, by the way.
    • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:40AM (#28247691) Homepage Journal

      His point was, if this pornographic material spreads the ideology that women are sexual objects existing only for men's pleasure, which causes women to self-censor themselves and their ideas due to peer pressure, fear, or general brain washing, then it must be banned.

      Sorry, I missed that. Can you explain the argument more? Cause all I'm seeing here is the old "frame it the way I see it, then ban it" bullshit that you criticized earlier in your comment.

      Example: If a carnivore diet spreads the ideology that animals exist only for human consumption, which causes vegetarians to self-censor themselves and their ideas due to peer pressure, fear, or general brain washing, then it must be banned.

      Example: If football spreads the ideology that physical violence is something men should be willing to tolerate and causes them to self-censor their outrage and appeal for legislative relief due to peer pressure, fear, or general brain washing, then it must be banned.

      The argument is that if any activity is effective at spreading some perceived negative idea then it should be banned. So give me the activity you want banned and I'll frame you an negative idea you can use to attack it.

      • by Idiot with a gun (1081749) on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:59AM (#28247773)
        Of course, I'd be happy to explain more. But, before I dive into this, let me note that I'm not totally sure if I agree with my professor. As a good student, I'm going to consider his opinion (and in this case, argue it), but not necessarily accept it as the truth.

        Your examples point to a single idea (often capable of being practised alone) being put down. Example: The idea spreads that animals only exist for consumption, therefore vegetarians back down and self-censor themselves. The issue is, this is an ideological disagreement, not a discrimination issue. The idea is spreading contrary Vegetarian beliefs not existence and right/capability to express an opinion. Should the meat eaters get violent in repressing vegetarians, this is an issue entirely separate from whether or not to be carnivore/herbivore/omnivore.

        The basic idea is, if you're spreading material that puts down a group of society specifically, not their ideas, but them, my right to say that under free speech is questionable at best. If I somehow begin spreading movies, using paid actors acting of their own free will, declaring the inferiority of "niggers," while not necessarily doing anything violent, most people would complain. However, should my movies/shows become super popular to the point where blacks begin to self-silence themselves because they are beginning to buy into the opinion that "those niggers" are incapable of intelligent thought, this would be extremely bad. Specifically, society is severely hurt when any major adult sector (male, female, black, white, asian, whatever) is silenced for any reason, self or otherwise.

        Now, the important question when considering my professors point is, do women consider themselves to be less important in modern society due to the presence of violent pornography and these rape games? I honestly don't know. Sociology questions like this tend to be rather tricky. I would say, in the current atmosphere where most (non frat-boys) are ashamed to admit their usage of kinky/violent porn/videogames, no. If at any point it becomes normal for polite men in society to talk about their rape games, using lewd and aggressive terms towards the digital other gender, then we would begin to have an issue.
        • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Monday June 08, 2009 @03:09AM (#28247825) Homepage Journal

          If I somehow begin spreading movies, using paid actors acting of their own free will, declaring the inferiority of "niggers," while not necessarily doing anything violent, most people would complain.

          And rightfully so, but to ban the production of such films would be against the concept of freedom of speech. Ironically, self-censorship is exactly what has caused the withering away of such stereotyping.. yet your professor's argument is that self-censorship is something we should avoid, and do so at the expense of freedom of speech. Overcoming fear and peer pressure has always been a barrier to saying anything worth saying and without free speech protection we're just adding another barrier. The most effective measure to speech you don't like is not banning it, but speaking out against it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Kjella (173770)

            The most effective measure to speech you don't like is not banning it, but speaking out against it.

            Really? Tell it to the Chinese that their ban on the events of Tiananmen square in 1989 is less effective than speaking out against it. I bet they'll laugh their ass off. That is, if you can find someone informed enough to know what really happen in the first place. The Soviet Union did a pretty good job at suppressing religion, which seemed to be quite more effective than telling people they're full of superstition using my free speech. There's a reason why it's the first amendment of the US constitution,

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Xest (935314)

      "banning guns in the US causes violent crime rates to rise (see: Washington DC)"

      Speaking of rape, you just managed to rape some statistics quite spectacularly.

      Slashdot of all places, where the mantra "Correlation does not imply causation" is repeated regularly is somewhere I would not expect to see quite such a spectular bastardisation of statistic.

      I agree with the sentiment of your post, but please, if you're going to make a point actually use firm evidence to back it up rather than simply resorting to spe

  • by retech (1228598) on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:46AM (#28247715)
    Let's go back to the old NES days. The only thing that ever made people do was eat mushrooms and beat the shit outta turtles. Those were the days, young prepubescent CGI girls could safely wander the streets.
  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:48AM (#28247719)
    Child pornography is abhorred because of the harm done to children in its creation. No children are harmed in making a cartoon. So it is entirely appropraiate that they not be treated as if they were movies or photographs of real sex crimes.

    90% of video games involve depictions of violent crime, murder, war. Most people (with obvious exceptions, Jack Thompson), accept that they are FICTION.

    Argue that these are disgusting, encourage degradation of women: don't say that they are in themselves criminal.

    Japan's child-pornography laws don't apply to animations or computer games, nor do they criminalize the possession of child pornography, an issue that was raised by outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer in January.

    "Only Japan allows people to possess these hideous images without penalty," Schieffer wrote in an editorial in the Asahi newspaper on Jan 1. "Six of the G-7 countries have found ways to protect the innocent from being prosecuted for possession of child pornography. Is it not time for Japan to find a way to punish the guilty?"

    "Punish the guilty". Nice turn of phrase. Just declare something you don't like is criminal, assume anyone charged with looking at it is "guilty", and proceed directly to punishment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shikaku (1129753)

      Let's say fishing is illegal and as abhorred as child pornography. The reasons why both are illegal and abhorred are irrelevant to the metaphor.

      Would that make games and tv shows about fishing just as terrible? Would the desire to fish in a virtual sense or watch somebody fish be just as terrible too?

  • And in real life... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LainTouko (926420) on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:59AM (#28247775)

    Perhaps this US ambassador should consider the comparitive figures for actual rape of real people who really exist in America and Japan.

    Surely this difference is far too big to be explained purely as a reporting bias. 34.20 compared to 1.48 per 100,000 people, first figures I found. It's pretty clear that giving potential rapists the ability to do so in a fictional environment where they do not hurt any real people is a good way of making them less likely to do it for real. "Don't hurt anyone, that would be bad" is a better way of getting people not to hurt anyone than "revealing your fantasies makes you damned whether you hurt anyone or not."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by johncadengo (940343)

      Reporting bias and Living out your fantasies does not add up to the difference either.

      Living out your fantasies did not even begin to occur in Japan till recently. Have rape rates gone down?

      Your deduction is not so clear as you perceive.

      As far as reporting rates go, check out this: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_rap_percap-crime-rapes-per-capita [nationmaster.com]

      Look at the countries near Japan. India? Turkey? Qatar? etc. Reporting bias is either pretty damn substantial or these countries are safe havens for women.

      If

    • by billius (1188143) on Monday June 08, 2009 @04:43AM (#28248405)
      I disagree. What is considered "rape" can vary greatly by culture and legal definition. A report that came out not too long ago concluded that Sweden was the rape capital of Europe and had 4 times as many rapes as neighboring Denmark and Finland. [thelocal.se] As the article I linked pointed out, "In Swedish rape law, the word [rape] can be used for acts called assault or bodily harm in other countries." For example, the German word Vergewaltigung basically only means physical force being used to achieve intercourse, much different from the American definition which can include alcohol, etc. Therefore I think it is advised that you take these numbers with a large grain of salt, especially given that the Japanese definitely have their own problems with unwanted sexual advances, like having women-only railcars [wikipedia.org] to cut down on groping. The statistics on Nation Master [nationmaster.com] also show that Canada has more than twice as many rapes per capital than the US, which causes me to be suspicious of the whole thing in the first place.

      In reference to people being horrified by rape more than murder/killing, as I pointed out last time [slashdot.org] there is NOTHING a women could do to justify someone raping her. Killing is generally sugar-coated in video games to include some kind of necessity for the killing. Even in Manhunt you're basically being forced to kill to win your freedom and you're already desensitized to killing in video games in the first place since you're used to war games, where you have to take out the enemy before they take you out, so the idea of killing someone in a game doesn't seem all too foreign. There's no such thing as "justifiable rape", thus it's important not to confuse societal hang-ups about sex (which are often silly and misguided) with disgust at rape (which is there for a good reason).
  • by davevr (29843) on Monday June 08, 2009 @03:28AM (#28247935) Homepage

    I am shocked. After reading the article and a little more about EOCS organization, it seems that Japan makes some games that do NOT involve rape. Who would have guessed?

  • Errant Legistation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Francis (5885) on Monday June 08, 2009 @03:45AM (#28248035) Homepage

    I think sexual assault is terrible, and it disgusts me that people want to play games that simulate such things.

    But I disagree with this law. I think freedom of expression is a valuable personal liberty. The legal system should be concerned with protecting the welfare and safety of the citizens it governs, not guiding what kind of intellectual content can be distributed among adults.

    On a more personal level, I find it ridiculous that rape simulation should be outlawed, but murder simulation is not. We as a society accept that murder is a worse crime than sexual assault. This is why murder charges have more severe punishment than rape.

    The only argument that would make this kind of legislation rational would be if someone could establish that sexual assault in video games encourages acts of real world sexual assault. I'd be surprised if it were true. Most studies conclude that violence in movies and video games does not encourage real-world violence. I can't imagine any reason why rape would be so different than any other violent crime in this aspect.

    • by Asic Eng (193332) on Monday June 08, 2009 @04:59AM (#28248469)
      Rape fantasies are the most common sexual fantasies for women. (See: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2372/is_1_45/ai_n24383385/ [findarticles.com] for a study on that.) Given that, it doesn't disgust me that people want to play games involving their fantasies. I actually think there is *nothing* wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with watching Mafia thrillers which are directed from the POV of the bad guy, either. I don't see anything wrong with reading books about incest, murder, war and genocide - most of our literature is about that anyway. It is however pathological not to see the difference between fantasy and reality.

      I think pretending we don't have these fantasies is unhealthy, and someone repressing their sexual feelings probably contributes to an inability to channel their more violent desires into harmless channels. If the thought of raping a schoolgirl turns you on - buy your wife a uniform and play together. More likely than not (55% chance) she's into the same thing.

      IMHO: Fantasizing about rape is no more likely to make you a rapist, than reading SF novels will make you an astronaut.

  • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Monday June 08, 2009 @03:52AM (#28248069) Journal

    In order for something to be a crime, it must be demonstrated that it causes harm, suffering, or loss. There has to be a victim. Now, the victim could be argued to be society as a whole, but I've not seen any actual proof that rape games make people rape or violent games make people violent.

    I have played the game mentioned in TFA out of curiosity. It was linked to on a forum I frequent. It wasn't disturbing to me at all because I took it for what it is: fiction. Fictional depictions of death don't disturb me either, and I think any reasonable person would consider death worse than rape.

    Rape is terrible, so is murder. Those crimes are even more disturbing and tragic when they happen to children. But that's not these people are arguing against. Raping children (or anyone) is ALREADY illegal. The opponents of this game are not arguing against rape, they are arguing against free speech but are confusing the debate by painting the other side as being pro-rape. Stop confusing the issue and argue on the facts. You are talking about banning a form of expression. What is being expressed is a terrible thing, yes, but freedom of speech doesn't just protect things you find agreeable. Polite speech doesn't require protection.

    Censorship is always worse than what is being censored.

  • RapeMurder? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Monday June 08, 2009 @04:08AM (#28248183) Homepage Journal
    If they ban all games/movies/comics/books where someone gets killed, a very small subset of all will remain. But still, if you are worried about rape you should be more about killing.
  • by mathfeel (937008) on Monday June 08, 2009 @05:36AM (#28248669)
    Maybe it's because Japan has one of the lowest rape per capita countries.

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_rap_percap-crime-rapes-per-capita [nationmaster.com]

    Hence the need to relief these urges virtually. That would be a good thing, no??
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by asdf7890 (1518587)

      Maybe it's because Japan has one of the lowest rape per capita countries.

      They have the lowest reported and recorded rape rate. In many places there is a lot of stigma attached to being the victim in these cases so victims are unwilling to come forward if they do they get little support, and from what little I know of modern Japanese culture I would guess that Japan is somewhere where this is a significant problem.

      You can only state that the existence of the games reduces rapes if you can show that their rise has been responsible for a reduction in rapes. Can you point to any res

    • on trains that they've taken to running female only trains

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women-only_passenger_car [wikipedia.org]

      Groping in crowded commuter trains has been a problem in Japan; according to a survey conducted by Tokyo Metropolitan Police and East Japan Railway Company, two-thirds of female passengers in their twenties and thirties reported that they had been groped on trains, and the majority had been victimized frequently. Authorities have been unable to control the chikan activities, as trains are too crow

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