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UK Parliament calls for review following Valve’s ‘woeful’ statement about Rape Day

Scottish MP and department for digital culture, media and sport spokesperson, Hannah Bardell, has reported the game Rape Day to Scotland Yard.

MCV reported yesterday Valve confirmed it will not permit the game – which allows players to rape women in a zombie apocalypse – to go on sale on its digital store, Steam. Rather than condemning the game or banning it for its shocking sexual violence content, however, the company says it won’t sell 3D visual novel Rape Day as the game "poses unknown costs and risks" to Valve.

Bardell described the game as "utterly abhorrent material" and insists the UK government must "commit to getting around the table and sorting this issue for good".

"A game of this nature has no place in our society," Bardell told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. "I’m glad that it has been pulled by gaming site Steam, but their response was woeful. It did not even accept or acknowledge the risk it could pose. At a time when 1 in 5 women will experience sexual violence in their lives, and in a week when it’s International Women’s Day, will [the DCMS] work with me and others to launch a review into how this game even got to the development and approval stage and make sure it appears on no other platform?"

"The Rape Day video game is absolutely sickening and appalling. Violence against women, whether it is sexual or of any other form, is not a game and should never be treated in such a way. It is serious and must be treated that way. I hope the game is not promoted," said Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. "In my view, the matter should not be down to the individual decisions of companies. It is time for the regulations governing the area to be reviewed. Perhaps the whole Parliament can unite on the issue and call on the UK Government to do that without delay."

"I have raised it because there are wider concerns about what happens next as this just beggars belief. This is a test for the law if it is going to be hosted elsewhere. There may be cross-jurisdictional issues," Bardell added. "It is not okay for rape to be used in games and to be normalised and we should be speaking out against that. This is a stain on the games sector."

In a statement in support of his work, Rape Day developer told The Herald Scotland: "If we ever come to the scientific conclusion that committing crimes in video games, significantly increases the chances of committing crimes in real life, then at that point we as a society will have to decide if we want to ban committing some or all crimes in fiction.

"But you can’t reasonably consider banning rape in fiction without banning murder and torture. Murder has been normalized in fiction, while rape has yet to be normalized. At some point in the future, game historians will look back on visual novels such as ‘rape day’ as game historians look back on games such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’ now or even the first time nudity was shown on television. Moral outrage does not stop the entertainment industry, it slows it down but in time society progresses and realizes that the purely fictional things they thought would cause moral decay and widespread lawlessness in fact do not.

"Most people can separate fiction from reality pretty well, and those that can’t shouldn’t be playing video games," he concluded. "The point of games is to do things or experience things that you can’t or shouldn’t in reality. If games and movies were just like real life, they would be pretty boring."

It’s not the first time Valve has struggled with the concept of policing its content. Last year, the company took the extraordinary view of deciding "that the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that [it] decide[s] are illegal, or straight up trolling"

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond.

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