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Japanese Organization To Ban Sale of Rape Games
Japanese Organization To Ban Sale of Rape Games
May 28, 2009 | By Eric Caoili

May 28, 2009 | By Eric Caoili
More: Console/PC

Japan's Ethics Organization of Computer Software (EOCS) -- an industry organization that oversees PC game ratings in the country, and comprised of over 200 software companies -- is forbidding the retail sale and production of games created by its members that simulate forced sex, such as Illusion Soft's controversial RapeLay.

The committee's decision was spurred by a recent campaign from woman's rights group Equality Now demanding that Illusion Soft and the Japanese government prohibit the sale of games involving "rape, stalking or other forms of sexual violence or which otherwise denigrate women," according to a report from Tokyo Broadcasting System News translated by the Canned Dogs weblog.

RapeLay, which released in Japan in 2006 without an official English localization, was the subject of much outrage in February after the game was found available for sale in the West by a third-party seller through Amazon Marketplace. Equality Now, the British Parliament, and many others condemned the title for its encouragement of stalking and raping a virtual family.

Amazon and other retailers across the world removed RapeLay from their stores, but Equality Now called for more action. The organization asked its 30,000 members to write to Japanese government officials, including Prime Minister Taro Aso, and ask them to comply with Japan's obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Japanese Constitution to "eliminate works that normalize and promote sexual violence against women and girls."

The EOCS is revising its standards on the manufacturing and sale of rape games in Japan among its some 200 member companies beginning June 2nd, 2009, effectively banning them - though it is a measure enacted as part of a voluntary organization, and is not a legal change.

[Update: Canned Dogs now reports that the Ethics Organization of Computer Software says that Tokyo Broadcasting System News "misrepresented EOCS’s intended stance" with edited footage, and denied that it has set plans for banning rape games. One of the group's directors, Kanno Hiroyuki, however, says that there will be a "a meeting held on the 2nd of June where the EOCS will review their PC game software regulations."]

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Andy Lundell
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Obvious question : Is IllusionSoft a EOCS member?

Randall Theil
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I agree with Andre. What is the moral difference between letting players participate in general violence and sexual violence?

Ian Cheong
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That argument is a false dichotomy and it is one I've heard repeated ad nauseum.

Simply put, there's a big difference between letting players participate in general, cartoonish violence (which is easily distinguishable from reality and fact) and sexual violence that depicts the victims as enjoying the act of rape. When such depictions are rendered acceptable, you'll have ignorant fools who actually believe that women actually enjoy being violated and this hyperreality alone is more dangerous than any impact that violent games like Grand Theft Auto could ever have on society.

In any case, the government isn't banning this -- the software organization that promotes video games in Japan, which is voluntary, I might add is taking a stance against these games because they bring down the reputation of video gaming in general. You'd know this if you bothered to read the article instead of raging against 'the man' or some unrelated nonsense.

That's all I have to say on the matter.

Matt Sloan
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I also agree with Andre.

Spending resources to try to regulate individuals' decisions is usually ineffective and wasteful. Just look at the war on drugs.

@Tommy - There are plenty of violent acts that most people would not consider "justified". Take a look at Postal or Manhunt. A lot of people that play GTA spend most of their time running around beating up old ladies. Obviously these aren't actions that we want to encourage people to do in real life, but you have to look at the costs/benefits of implementing a law to reduce certain individuals' choices.

Andrew Heywood
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> What is the moral difference between letting players

> participate in general violence and sexual violence?

Hmmm... Not entirely sure what my thoughts are here. But how about: What's the moral difference between a game in which you can have sex with an adult and one in which you can have sex with a toddler? Clearly in such matters there is a line which can be crossed, and not everything can be blanket-classified under the same banner, be it 'violence' or 'sex'.

I think Tommy's point above has _some_ merit, but there's plenty of examples of violence in games which is not self defence or otherwise altruistic.

Frank Smith
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Free speech doesn't mean you should say everything you can, it means you should say what you want. What gives a particular rights group the ability to say I don't like this get rid of it? Video games often portray activities that are illegal, killing, drugs, theft, people play these games and the world hasn't torn itself apart yet, so if your argument is that this game will lead to people being hurt or raped then your fooling yourself. If you just don't like the idea that a product would depict women being hurt, therefore I shall ban it, then that is the worst kind of censorship. If you personally don't like something then don't partake. That's the great thing about the entertainment business, there's a wide variety of products for difference audiences, kids and all types of adults. Personally when I heard of this game I didn't view it as a game, more along the lines of interactive pornography, not my particular cup of tea, so no thanks for me, but that doesn't mean that since I don't agree with it it should be outlawed.

My overall argument is, if you don't agree with somethings subject matter, don't play. If you find something offensive, don't play. And if you think people base their life choices off of video games, you have know idea what your talking about. Special interest groups ought to improve the lives of those they represent, not control the lives of others they don't. That said, this organization has every right to police itself, although I don't agree with it's decision, I wouldn't try to take that right away. And Japanese game developer have every right not to be apart of this organization, and if that's to much for them, then they should question if creating one organization to control them was a wise idea.

DukeJake R
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So when are they going to ban the games that involve shooting people?

Kris Ridley
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The censorship does squick me a little, but here's the difference: there is no epidemic of shooting violence. It's extremely unlikely that someone who plays violent video games is going to go out and shoot someone. However, it is quite likely that a person who plays these rape fantasy games will go out and rape someone. In this country at least, one in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. One in six. That's ridiculous, and I believe the figures are much worse in Japan. Clearly there is a huge problem that needs to be combated here, and I am all for anything that helps real people.

Frank Lenk
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Ian Cheong said: "When such depictions are rendered acceptable, you'll have ignorant fools who actually believe that women actually enjoy being violated and this hyperreality alone is more dangerous than any impact that violent games like Grand Theft Auto could ever have on society."

Then by all means legislate against ignorant fools.

Meanwhile, there are already perfectly adequate laws forbidding violence against women - even in Japan, I'm sure. If censorship is to be seriously considered IN ADDITION to those laws, the onus must be on those seeking to restrict individual rights to make an airtight case.

Can anyone PROVE conclusively, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the games in question have contributed in any way to any actual crime - against women or anyone else? This must be the test. (And, no, screaming "It's obvious!" isn't good enough.)

As far as I know, even broad statistical evidence is nonexistent, or highly contradictory at best. In which case the focus should be on enforcing existing laws, rather than on restricting the rights of fools and non-fools alike.

Kevin Baba
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I believe these games are disgusting, sick, and... well, just plain wrong. But they are legal. And I believe they should stay that way.

Also, Ian Cheong, you need to look up what a "dichotomy" is and understand that the only one coming close to making one here (false or not) is you.