I was reading an article about pornography recently and it got me thinking about rape games. Hey, put down the pitchfork and flaming torch, I’m talking about the rape simulators that are so popular in Japan – more on that in a moment. The article I was reading (which you can read yourself by following this link) is from 2006 and discusses the correlation between internet access and the sexual crime figures in the United States during the internet rollout. In short it assesses that in states where people had ready access to internet pornography the rape figures fell by a noticable percentage.
This got me thinking about a game called Rapelay, unsurprisingly a Japanese rape simulator, that has been in the headlines recently. You see, despite being released three years ago and available worldwide for that long, anti-rape activist groups have started to lodge complaints against that particular game in an attempt to get it banned. As it’s such an old game I can only imagine that someone high up in one of these groups found a family member playing the game, which sparked the recent singling out of this title. After all, having looked up the reviews, it seems that Rapelay is quite tame compared to most of the games in this rather disturbing genre, so I can’t see any other reason it would be singled out when so many worse games aren’t. Something else you may find of interest is that the developer of this game only created it for the over 18 market in Japan and doesn’t export to other countries. The only way this has shown up in western countries is through individuals who have purchased multiple copies and are selling on the web, or through hackers who have translated the game and removed the mosaic cubing effect that obscures the genitals in the game, an effect that is required by Japanese law. At the time of writing this Rapelay has been banned from most online retailers as well as several countries starting with my own and swiftly followed by the United States. Furthermore, it seems that the United States government has put pressure on Japan to ban the game there as well, pressure that has paid off in this case as the game is no longer listed on the publisher’s website and the developer has been forced to recall copies from shops.
Now I wont get into the moral argument of whether the US had any right to interfere with the workings of a Japanese company over a product that was legally released in that country and that they haven’t even attempted to bring to the United States themselves, but I will return to the actual point of this post – the correlation between access to pornography and rape crime figures. If we’re to believe the article I was reading Japan, with the hundreds of rape simulators that get legally released there every year, should have a slightly lower rape crime figure than my own country or America as these countries have banned these games. However, if the politicians and activist groups are right, Japan will have a much higher amount of rapes. Considering this I hunted down the crime figures. These are presented as the number of reported rapes per 100,000 people who live in the country so the ratio stays the same no matter how big the country is.
USA – 32.05 rapes per 100,000 people. Now that’s not actually a bad number if you think about it. Still about 32 rapes too many in my opinion, but a lot better than I thought it would be.
UK – 16.23 rapes per 100,000 people. Again better than I thought it would be, even after seeing the US statistics. Again too many to feel comfortable about.
Japan– Aha, the moment of truth. Will it be higher, lower or somewhere in between? My gut instinct says that Japan will probably have a rape crime statistic of somewhere around the same as the UK. And the magic number is… 1.78. Less than two people per 100,000 get raped there despite rape simulations and rape anime being so prolific in that country and culture! Could it be that women in Japan simply don’t report rapes? Maybe so, but the same can be said about women in other countries too and it wouldn’t account for such a high statistical anomaly. Is it possible that this statistic is really down to potential rapists living out their sick little fantasies with simulators rather than taking a victim in real life? It seems so (although I believe that culture has a lot to do with it as well) but that raises some rather unsanitary questions about just how far these things should be allowed to go, questions that I wont even bother to talk about here. It just seems that, in the right context and as part of an entire culture, these “games” are actually doing the country some good. Think about that next time a politician launches a campaign to ban the latest game as too violent, too sexual or “a paedophile training ground” (as Hilary Clinton famously called The Sims).
One final thought. Australia is infamous in the gaming world for having the strictest ratings board. Many games get content cut because the Australian board deems it unacceptable and some games are even denied release at all. The Australian rape reports list 77.79 rapes per 100,000 people. You do the maths.