RapeLay: a virtual rape game

A Japanese video game that involved raping women was banned three years after its creation following an international outcry by women’s groups, writes Judith Bruhn.

In 2006, the Japanese company Illusion Soft released the video game RapeLay. The objective of the game is to repeatedly rape a mother and her two young daughters, and force them to have an abortion if they become pregnant. While the game was only released domestically, it quickly spread worldwide through the internet.

In 2009 the American feminist organisation Equality Now started lobbying for the game to be banned, which was supported by a number of women’s rights groups in several countries including the UK and Australia. Subsequently the game received media coverage, condemning the violence portrayed against women. Only in response to international media attention, three years after the release of the game, did domestic Japanese groups and media start lobbying. Japanese retailers voluntarily took the game off its shelves, and subsequently the Ethics Organisation of Computer Software, an independent Japanese ratings organisation for adult games, banned all computer games with sexual violence.

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Comments (12)

Automated machine translations are provided by Google Translate. They should give you a rough idea of what the contributor has said, but cannot be relied on to give an accurate, nuanced translation. Please read them with this in mind.

  1. Hi Tsukamoto Takanobu and Sonia

    I find it very difficult to make a judgement on this. Yes, I do find it appalling that someone would derive fun out of playing a game featuring rape as entertainment. At the same time I agree with Tsukamoto Takanobu – murder is a crime too, and I do not think violent games should be banned per se.

    I think in this case the ideal thing happened – civil society rose up to determine what is considered acceptable. In places where groups are not able to make themselves heard despite being violated through speech or any other way, law may have to fulfil that function until the mechanisms are in place to allow such action on the part of civil society to be successful.

  2. A law would definitely have some negative outcomes and mixups, banning games that might be appropriate. This game particularly is gross to me. It should have never been created in the first place; what is stopping a disturbed teenager from trying to explore the reality instead of playing just a virtual representation of such a horrible act?

    • What’s to stop a disturbed teenager from trying to explore the reality of murder instead of playing just a virtual representation of such a horrible act?

  3. There is not the kind of appropriate game for anybody, doesn’t matter how old is the people that is playing that .Games are supposed to be fun and make you feel good to be playing , they are not supposed to be like that .

  4. In this case, the game itself is encouraging the violation of basic human rights and dehumanizing two groups of people: women and children. I believe strongly in free speech and freedom of expression, but this game goes beyond those freedoms. It was designed for a specific population and it’s content promulgates hatred and violence toward a specific group.

  5. Edino prav je, da so igro prepovedali! Kako se lahko sploh kdo spomni, da bi ustvaril igro, katere cilj je posiljevanje žensk?!

  6. As a grown human being, it is really embarassing that most if not all the entertaining stuffs include some sort of violence. I am not saying that having some level of violence for bigger desire to enjoy such platform is bad but I am appalled by the fact that few game developers out there try to make games that express positive ideas rather than beating, shooting or killing. Furthermore, there are clear cases that these games become models of copycat crimes. I strongly think we should regulate such games like this.

  7. Author opinion is understandable if he has same opinion on virtual murder/war games. I personally believe no modern country should ban rape/murder/war games, or whatever most sickening games for you. Because most people can distinguish virtual world from real world. If some people cannot, it is problem of their mental health, not of games.

    • Thank you everyone for your comments. I absolutely agree that playing such a game is a strange way of spending your time.

      I do agree with Tatsuru, I think this actually falls under the same or at least similar category as war games, which most people would not ban. I have been thinking about this a lot, and would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this.

      Do you think rape games are essentially similar to war games?

  8. That’s the most absurd and immoral game I have never heard before. It clearly induce people to do such crime. In our age, especially for children really affecting by video games. Therefore, video games which include violence and sexual immoral behaviours should be banned immediately. That’s no funny or entertainment this kind of games. It directly influence society as a harm way.

  9. The game should not have been published initially. RapeLay is discriminating towards women as it creates the interpretation that woman are a source of sexual entertainment. The game also establishes an attitude that raping women and forcing them to abort is tolerable. In real life, by committing such felony, one could be facing a sentence that could last from 20 years to a lifetime, however in the game, the protagonist committing the criminal offence does not receive any retribution. Having said that, if a game such as this one has been published, the government should take action and distinctly ban it. The manner in which this game is portraying abortion is highly disturbing as it comes across as entertainment to users. By allowing RapeLay to be played, a message to the future generations is being sent saying that violating women rights such as sexual abuse to be respectable.

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Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford. www.freespeechdebate.ox.ac.uk

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