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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Should video games be restricted?

March 30th, 2010
12:26 PM ET

From a keyboard in Japan to a gamer in Britain, ideas and images are no longer contained by geography in our borderless cyber-world.

Videogames like RapeLay are popular in Japan.
Videogames like RapeLay are popular in Japan.

One only needs to look at the controversy surrounding the video game RapeLay to see how content once contained to a country can outrage activists in another.

The plot lines in the video game RapeLay are not unusual for a gaming genre in Japan called hentai. You can choose your storyline in RapeLay: molest a fellow passenger on mass transit, rape a woman and her two daughters, and convince the victim to get an abortion, or risk being pushed in front of a speeding train.

Learn more about the outrcy Rapelay has created

Lucy Kibble, who downloaded the game in Britain, compares playing the rape-simulation video game to watching a movie that depicts murder or reading a book that details abuse.

“It’s pixels on a screen,” she said. “You don’t have to have those feelings of guilt because the things that you do in a game is stuff you could never do in real life. It’s escapism. That’s why people play it.”

But Taina Bien-Aime, Executive Director of Equality Now, said other comparisons were more apt: “Let’s say that the player would target African-Americans to lynch and rape and torture… or the player can target Jews, for instance. There would be international outrage.”

The harm, she said, was when these games “promote and normalize sexual violence, and the perpetuation of gender stereotypes of women and girls that lead to violence and discrimination.”

RapeLay has been around for awhile, and the controversy that follows its availability is not new. At the core of the issue seems to be disagreement over the harm that the production, sale, and consumption of various forms of pornography causes women, and the debate around this question has never been more timely.

Just last week, Iceland voted to ban all strip clubs within its borders. Kolbrun Halldorsdottir, the politician who reportedly first proposed the ban, was quoted as saying "It is not acceptable that women or people in general are a product to be sold."

Meanwhile, in China, one of the country’s most prominent women’s rights advocates, Li Yinhe, recently penned a blog post proposing the abolition of the Chinese law making the consumption of “obscene goods” a crime. She argued that such a law violates Chinese citizens’ constitutionally-protected right to freedom of speech, as “obscene goods are the product of human imagination.”

Lucy’s boyfriend, Jim Gardner, said: “I don’t think putting tighter restrictions on the kind of material on what we see in other countries is going to change the fact that there are people like that. There’s a positive side to all the content, media coming out of other countries.”

And where countries have settled for themselves how free speech rights stack up against obscenity laws, the border-less domain of the Internet remains almost unencumbered in its ability to transmit through and around the barriers that national borders seek to build.

Posted by ,
Filed under:  General
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Jurgen R. Brul

    Hello CNN friends,

    When children, young adults and
    people, who are addicted to porn, drugs and crime,
    have total access to video games,
    that provoke (church) sexual abuse, violence and other crimes,
    then these video games must be banned,
    especially for children, young adults and addicted people.
    Otherwise we are living in a Land of Confusion!

    Advice:
    Let us Now Connect to make our world
    a Better Healthier and Beautiful World
    for You and for Me!

    Greetings,
    Jurgen R. Brul
    Hometown: Paramaribo
    Country: Suriname
    Latin-American

    March 30, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
  2. Dillbag

    CNN and Kyung Lah, always on the cutting edge of technology, dig up the corpse of a FOUR YEAR OLD video game to instil fear in the heart of every citizen of the online world.

    Seriously dude, if you think Rapelay is the worst thing to come out of Japan you need to spend more time online.

    March 30, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  3. Tom

    Anything that fosters lawlessness IN ANY FORM should be banned. We have laws to provide us with a secure structure so we know what to exect from each other in a "civilized" society. Anything that compromises that "security" should not and MUST NOT be tolerated.

    A game that REWARDS Rape=Banned

    A game that REWARDS Murder=Banned

    A game that REWARDS Lawlessness=BANNED!!

    March 30, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  4. deanne

    this has to be one of the worst things I have ever saw and I cannot believe that it is out for anyone to play. This game is just showing young people that it is ok to do these types of things to women or even young children. Is this really what we would like are children to be raised to believe.

    March 30, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  5. chaz

    I am a gamer of 20 years + I would not buy this game as I feel it goes too far. However I don't feel it should be banned, censorship is only creating more of a Taboo, hence creating a greater desire for that which is banned.

    I can only hope that consumers, parents and the gaming community come together and boycott the game and send the message that while it isn't illegal to market a game like this, it is just in bad taste and will receive no support. I for one will boycott this game any any which includes any type of sexual assault as a goal in the game.

    March 30, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  6. Khai

    It just a game. I play GTA 4 and I walk around shooting women and old lady on the head just for fun. If you think if real I think something wrong with you.

    March 30, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  7. Fredrick

    Video games aren't the problem. If you're worried about the content that children and young people are exposed to, it's up to parents to monitor the content that they are exposed to. In no way am I promoting this game, because it's tasteless and just plain wrong, but this addresses a much larger at hand. You think video games are bad? Just look at what's available for children to watch on basic cable.

    And seriously CNN? You have to dig up this game which has been out for 4 years to try to stir up another alleged video game controversy?

    March 30, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  8. kelly

    People here obviously know very little about Japanese H-Games. Rape games have been around for well over a decade in Japan. This is not some new phenomenon. There are probably thousands of them out there given how quickly the H-game industry pushes out titles in Japan. This article is a decade too late.

    Anyways it should not be banned. People have to understand people have certain fetishes, and the Japanese porn game market caters to just about all of those (including really disgusting ones). People do have rape fetishes, just like there are incest fetishes, animal fetishes, etc. This isn't Japanese only either, we have pron in the west that explores rape and incest, this is just interactive. Heck it fairly easy to Google and find user made flash games that have rape scenes.

    In my mind the issue is simple. People have fetishes and they need to be satisfied. Would you rather they satisfy their fetish on a computer game or should we ban it and risk them satisfying their fetish on real people?

    These are not x-box games like Modern Warfare Two where friends are gonna play with each other, there are not online achievements. These games are designed for people with that kind of fetish, and seriously its not one I think people are likely to get addicted by playing a rape game. In my own experience just the thought of it has kept me away from those games.

    March 30, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  9. Too Far?

    Video Games only go too far when people take them seriously... its not the game its the people who play them and let them selves be influenced by them.

    March 30, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  10. Cynthia

    I am sure there are even worse games out there than just this one. It is completely disgusting what some people need to entertain themselves, and we wonder why the youth of today are so, violent, disrespectful, and turn out to be murderers and rapists. This is why.

    March 30, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  11. Dori

    Just kinda want to know what kind of person is even remotely interested in such a game? This should be of concern!!! Aren't the people who are marketing these games inciting violence against woman as well? WTF??? To me it's one thing to think it, but to be able to act it out on a video game is a catalyst for someone with a sick mind to carry it over into reality!! Something has to be seriously wrong with the creators of these games!!

    March 30, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  12. michelle

    first, not all hentai games are about rape.

    second, the content of the game itself is not the issue. the issue is the neglect of parents paying attention to what their kids are playing. games receive a rating for a reason.

    March 30, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  13. Jessica

    Video games aren't the only problems.
    There are some books where the protagonist is a dirty rapist, and other characters praise the protagonist as a hero. Some of these books are deemed "classics", even. Children can pick up one of these books at the local library without anybody raising a fuss, and nobody notices as he pollutes his mind with these sorts of sick fantasies. Parents may even encourage their children to read these "classics".
    Somebody has to step in and prevent these books from circulating, since some parents are obviously unable to properly protect their children. Rape as a plot device should be banned, and there should be strict government controls over not just video games, but all forms of media, including books, movies, and television.

    March 30, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
  14. b. foxx

    Dear CNN: I thank you for the courage to carry this story. The crime of rape and sexual assault are some of the most under-reported and under-covered crimes in society. This game should be discouraged by all, and the catalyst of a movement to act against such heinous crimes. In re the game, specifically, I find it repulsive, and encourage those who are attracted to it to seek out medical intervention. Even ancient societies protected the most vulnerable. As modern societies, we should do the same.

    March 30, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  15. jen

    you people that think it's ok to fantasize about hurting other people are using it as a COPOUT. YOU ARE WEAK. Fix yourself, and do something with your time that makes this world a better place. Use that confused, misdirected energy (hate) to invent something, build something, BE ORIGINAL. You are pathetic. But NO you won't, you'll just go rape some defenseless character in a game cause YOU ARE WEAK.

    March 30, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  16. HH

    Free of speech, First amendment, etc etc. The video is perfectly alright. Make more and make them more discus ting …pleeeeease..

    March 30, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  17. beN

    yea the banhammer is always the right way and please after u banned this games then do the same to movies and books and after that computerchips in brains of humas that ban ur dirty fantasy.

    or just restrict this movies games and books for children.

    no better make a licence for human that can handle this games movies and books.
    and after that make a license for voting or better make a licence for humans to go out of their houses or better make a licence for humans for living.

    yea i love the banhammer and the freedom of speach and opinion is out of date, its the time of banhammering !!!!!!!1111111

    March 30, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  18. Dyse

    America: World Police!

    Like others have mentioned: Fetishes and Fantasies are not reality. It is a bit of question what will happen when these games get made even more realistic in the next 2 decades though. Right now, most video games can draw a line just because they are obviously video games. When that line starts to blur, who knows what society will do. Most likely a major backlash, followed by a move towards the middle.

    Is the video game so different from the videos? Why hasn't CNN looked at the incredible number of rape scenario movies that are played out with real actresses and actors here in America that anybody can buy in any porn rental store? Or, heaven forbid, watch online!

    Rape is bad. A rape fetish is not bad. A rape obsession is bad. Our society needs to remember that their best defense is raising educated individuals that know when they have a problem and feel that they have the support to deal with it. A person does not turn into a rapist because of a video game.

    March 30, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
  19. vincent

    Must be a slow news day for CNN. The only reason I can think that this article would have any current relevance is due to the loli-ban legislation being delayed and the "women's rights groups" don't want to break their stride in censoring fictional material.

    They already changed the industry last year in June when almost ALL Japanese Erotic Game producers stopped producing rape, S&M, and other fetish related content. Strangely that was not at all mentioned in any of these articles. The fax sent out by the Erotic Game Regulation Boards (EOCS) is available to the public and lists all content banned from games from member companies.

    These games fall in the same category as Kink.com's productions and if you don't have that fetish, don't watch/play it. If you are afraid your kid will obtain these, do your job as a parent and teach them what is right and wrong in the world instead of expecting the government to do it for you.

    Nobody is hurt by games like these, and statistics would prove that these games have the opposite effects of which these groups are trying to convince others of.

    March 30, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  20. Sean

    Thanks for reporting on this video game. I had never heard of the game RapeLay or other such games that used rape as a central theme.

    After reading this article I was able to go to a BitTorrent site and find the full DVD version of the game RapeLay in about 3 minutes. Thanks to the wonders of broadband it should be done downloading in about an hour. Now, thanks to this article, I'll be able to play a game that I otherwise might never have heard of.

    Cheers! :)

    March 30, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  21. Keira

    I think it's all ridiculous! Just employ a little common sense! It's one thing to have a video games that depicts images of war and the aftermath for people over a certain age, but games that lets you choose to rape someone?? C'mon! There are certain topics that don't belong in a video game. I'm as liberal as the next gal but this is no laughing matter. Sex crimes aren't a game!

    Keira
    NY

    March 30, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  22. Namita M

    Remember when a thought is manifested it will take place! so when you make a game as such and suprisingly make is a game you are not only belittling human values but yourself too, shame on you and yr people, for not having the "common sense" or decency to control such material.
    Also when you set out such ideas and think this fun , it will very well happen to someone you love and then it will not be just a game!!

    Society and law should wake up and be responsible games and movies and music videos and what not has to be controlled a bit gotta get more decent and really what is the law doing? you have to give young people a chance to understand what is right and wrong, your just allowing a small % of people who have no control over their thoughts and actions to dictate terms and make whatever they please and then we're suprised children are mean and they grow up having no scruples, really LAWMAKERS or the one who have to uphold it should WAKE UP or !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 30, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  23. mitchyj

    Can the Japanese government be this spineless in its non-response?
    I guess so. Shame on all of them.

    March 30, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  24. Bcc

    Kelly,

    I take issue with your statement that this is justified by fetish behavior. I am active in the local BDSM community and I think you misunderstand the festish "rape fantasy." The reason why rape fantasy is not really rape is because it's consensual. I am a woman who engages in such role playing but because I want the sexual contact, it is not the actual definition of rape. The men who participate in the scene with me are not actually committing rape. They respect safe words and would never do anything to actually cause me psychological or physical harm. Our behavior is about an exchange of power. People who actually want to commit rape or think that sexual violence is acceptable are called potential sex offenders, not fetishists.

    -Bcc

    March 30, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  25. Mr. Freedom

    It's nobody's business what someone does in the privacy of their own home. Let's not set a precedence for banning everything that offends people, otherwise we're just going back in time and undoing every hard won freedom and re-erecting every social barrier that's been broken.

    Vote with your money. If you don't like the game, don't buy it. If they don't sell well, then they company goes out of business. All that's happening now is that this game is exploding in popularity thanks to this report.

    March 30, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  26. Thomas

    Good for the Japanese government for standing up to these goons at equality now who want to censor people's lives.

    News flash equality now, in the United States, sex is seen as obscene but graphic violence is allowed on television. In Japan, it is the opposite. Violence is seen as obscene but sexual content is allowed. If you don't like these games, I have a simple solution. Don't play them.

    March 30, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
  27. sssimon

    Interesting to note the actual crime statistics of Japan s the USA. Japan has and has had a great deal of violent and sexual "entertainment" available. Could it be that it actually acts as an outlet and reduces the amount of real crime? Why does Japan with little censorship of this kind of material has only a small fraction of the crime rate of the USA?

    Murders per 100,000.
    1. Russia Federation 18.07
    2. United States 6.32
    Japan 0.58
    (Japan rate is 1/10th that of USA)

    Rape per 100,000.
    1. United States 34.20
    Japan 1.48
    (Japan rate is 1/20th that of USA)

    Serious Assault per 100,000
    3. United States 357.94
    Japan 15.40
    (Japan rate is 1/20th that of USA)

    Robbery/Violent Theft per 100,000.
    2. United States 169.02
    Japan 2.71
    (Japan rate is 1/70th that of USA)

    March 30, 2010 at 7:13 pm |
  28. Bellum

    There is no "too far" in fantasy. There is no mention of obscenity in the constitution. Fantasy violence does not "normalize" real violence for an intelligent adult. That's one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard.

    March 30, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
  29. Viral

    To start with, what the hell is CNN doing dragging up an age old story like this? Can't find any good news to report? secondly, to restrict anything regardless of what it is (pornography, games or anything which doesn't follow social norms) is just a huge breach on freedom. So what if there are people out there who want to play these types of games, so what if there are people out there who believe females are inferior to males it doesn't matter it's all just opinions at the end of the day and to try and change them is to try and ask a bird to become a fish, it is just not happening because that is who they are and you can't try and bend them to your will its not how it works. I can't stand all these feminist groups trying to impose their own morals in a world of free speech and thought, if people want to follow your lifestyle of restricting yourself to petty morals of saying games depicting murder are evil and should be banned then fine they can do that but only at the condition that they chose to be like that and not get forced into believing it via mediums. Also i'd also like to say banning games because of extreme graphic content (muder and such) is just retarded, we're living in a world where people are being killed on streets and there are wars going on,sure you can ban these games and piss off countless gamers yet all these people who you say will be influenced by these types of games will have to do is look at the news. Media reports countless crimes and murders and updates on whats going on in countries at war so what is the point restricting it only to be fed the same effect from reading the news? at least these 'potential' murderers and rapists are expressing themselves through games and not real life.

    March 30, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
  30. Tim

    What all these forget to say is that Japan has THE lowest sex crime rates of the world. Some will argue it is due to the fact that all don't come to open but it's so for every country. Japan also has the longest running porn game production. See the link between them?

    As Kelly said people have fetishes, so why not let them have a way that isn't illegal. At no point is real women or children harmed in the production of these. It's 100% fictional.

    There are REAL problems in the world that the organization could be campaining about. Child marriages in eastern countries, 13 year old child deaths due to them giving births to their "legimate" husbands. Women being stoned to death because they did not act properly, were raped or had a fling.

    Why is it that sex in games is such a taboo, when mass murder is not? Yes GTA4 did get some puplicity on it's violence and some countries did ban it (Germany I think), but most of the world just went "oh well" and quietly slipped it under the carpet. Even games like Manhunt and Postal 2, which to me are totally sick and twisted, didn't make any impression in the media. The list goes on.

    But when Mass Effect came out, oh boy was it a media frenzy. And for what? Little piece of ass and some side boob. And let's not forget the GTA "hot coffee" episode.

    Media jumps on what sells, and violence is getting old.

    You say that these promote sexual abuse? I say that for every one person that does so, 9 will be comtempt with the game and not harm actual persons.

    March 30, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
  31. Sara

    To me, this is just a game and the idea of banning this because people believe that it goes too far is just stupid, IMO. The fact is, there are plenty of contents out there that may not seem right and as people, you choose to use it or not base on your believe. For example, there are plenty adult videos and movies out there that reenact rape and violence. If this video game has gone too far, so did any of those other similar theme media.

    Is playing Modern Warfare going to make me walk out to public and start throwing grenades? Will playing Grand Theft Auto make me go out to public, humiliate prostitutes and then beat them up for the money I just paid them? No, I'm not going to do that. Am I going to join the military because I watched Hurt Locker?

    All these entertainment out there is could just be a form of escape, expression. If you don't want to play the adult game, you can choose not to play it. If you don't want to watch the R rated movie, you can choose not to watch it. There might be violence in there, but it shouldn't make you reenact in reality.

    March 30, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
  32. daveman

    The best part about this is seeing all these cries from all kinds of different groups to ban these games.

    Where are all the cries to ban Catholic Churches, I'm confident that priests have ruined more lives than this game has. If fact if you could switch the game gender maybe a bunch of them would have bought it.

    Whats the difference between raping people in this game and killing hundreds in another, albeit with more graphic simulations.

    Why can't CNN waste our time covering things that are actually important?

    March 30, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
  33. Billy

    I think that if kids are playing this then it would be up to the parents. If the parents want there kids growing up to be rapists of something then the kids and the parents will get in trouble but ther should be real strict about that sort of stuff, or at least sell it for a high price...

    March 30, 2010 at 7:54 pm |
  34. Kamikaze

    ROFL, Tom writes, "Anything that fosters lawlessness IN ANY FORM should be banned." Okay so that means every movie ever made that shows ANYTHING unlawful should be banned. OH WAIT. What about books? Oh ok lets ban those too. What about the media? Well according to Tom the only way to stop them from showing the citizens horrible unlawful things our government is doing is by making it state run. Come on people let's all jump on the HERE COMES COMMUNISM band wagon and START BANNING THINGS WE DON'T LIKE!

    March 30, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
  35. rkelly13

    what about movies depicting rape or murder – the hostel series for instance – what about tv series like Oz that are set in prisons

    I think this game is in terrible taste but this is nothing new in Japan for one, their culture is different to say the least. Just look at their hentai animation that has female characters getting constantly raped by monsters with multiple tentacles and you get the idea. A walk down the street in tokyo and these are things that aren't crazy to see, they sell used womens panties in vending machines, I kid you not.

    Their culture, like those that have child brides, stone women who are the victims of rape, etc, are all against our values – when do we project our values on to them? Either way this game is abhorent but it isn't and shouldn't be our chief concern when dealing with Pedophiles down the street or giving Mass, and a justice system that doesn't severely punish them or prevent them from perpetrating these acts.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:08 pm |
  36. James

    Obviously this game is disgusting, but banning it would be both wrong and impractical. That's how freedom of speech works, it can't be selective. It applies to Nazi marches and rape simulators.

    @ Tom: That first paragraph is over-the-top fascist, absolutely antithetical to American ideas regarding free expression. It sounds like something out of Orwell...

    March 30, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
  37. kay

    ABSOLUTELY! If these are the "indoctrination" games that the new morons play....!!!

    March 30, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  38. Chrissy

    My ex is a surgureonical specialist in the Army. He has many tales of some 18 yo "knucklehead" (as he calls them) you joined the Army to go to war so that they can "kill people and blow things up like a video game".
    These are the first guys to lose it and the first to break down.
    They think because they mastered Call to Duty etc that that will make them a "good solider".
    They have a lot to learn
    In the mean time these gamer jeopardize the welfare of real life people.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  39. potential victim

    Parents can't possibly steer their kids on this one because this kind of game doesn't enter the house "legally" ie "Mom, can I buy RapeLay?" Kids get it without their parents knowing and then they play without any kind of guidance whatsoever. I think a game like this is really sick and it does promote and normalize sexual violence. It isn't pornography at at. It is illegal sexual violence. I don't think many people agree that rape is ok outwardly yet so many people practice it in the real world and justify it (she was wearing that red dress, she really shouldn't have done that, I can easily hold her down). Rape in a book isn't nice either but that isn't interactive (how would you like to rape her today? and how many times?) and people might read a book once or twice. Games are played over and over again and can be shared among friends, making it even more socially acceptable. These games should be banned. Just because you can't eradicate a game doesn't mean knocking it back is useless.

    It seems a guy's right to practice raping women (and girls) is held higher then womens' and girls' safety. It's better to wait and confirm a raping epidemic then curb it preventatively and when a real woman fights back, she was wearing that dress and wanted it anyway, right? Too bad you couldn't nail her daughter too. Maybe next time. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. What to do, we already have an epidemic.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:37 pm |
  40. albert Krauss

    Well, how about hacking these games and adding a game sequel in which the player grabs a molester or assailant ("rapist"), and promptly castrates "him". That's probably what the world needs now, the mass castration of thugs, whether police or military or criminal others, who are probably over 90% male (that's a very conservative guesstimate).

    March 30, 2010 at 8:37 pm |
  41. Ituri

    Give me a break. They went searching for "outrage," and they found it. These games have been around as long as the internet had downloads. There is no "ban" that can stop digital content, and there is no reason to ban "certain content" simply because a few Mothers of America groups find it offensive. I can list 100 offensive things that I could live without, but so long as there isn't a real victim, I have no right to dictate other peoples behavior concerning even graphic or violent content.

    My spouse plays Halo, I play war games, the Japanese make hentai games, kids will find sexualized content if they look for it no matter the ban.

    Is it so hard to do your job as a parent?

    But no, being a parent doesn't give someone the right to ban or censor artistic material, even of questionable taste. Hello FASCISM? Or does nobody understand what that word means?

    March 30, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
  42. John C.

    Rape games are about as sick as the iPhone "baby-shaker," but trying to ban them won't make them go away, especially after 10 years of sales. Besides, as blogger "daveman" points out, we don't ban Catholic churches just because their priests have raped tens of thousands of "liveware" children.

    March 30, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
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