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I was reading the news today and I found this article about a Japanese “rape simulator” game. Yes, that’s right: it’s a rape simulator. In RapeLay, the user follows the main character as he plans to rape three women. The game has interactive assaults and relies on the revolting myth that rape victims enjoy being attacked and that the sex that occurs is consensual. What has humanity come to?

Let me write two important disclaimers about this article. First, if this article unintentionally sounds culturally insensitive or offends anybody I apologize. I realize that games like RapeLay only appeal to a limited number of people both in Japan and elsewhere for that matter. Second, I have never played or seen this game played and relied entirely on the Slate article for descriptions of RapeLay. With that in my mind, let me proceed.

The sad fact of the matter is that RapeLay is distinctly Japanese. Video games with explicit sexual content are referred to as eroge and have considerable market size in Japan. In the highly popular PC game Yume Miru Kusuri, the protagonist, a Japanese high-school male, pursues bizarre sexual relationships with three different women along with a variety of drug abuse. For a quick look at the size of the industry, check out this absurdly long list of pornographic computer games.

But the creepy and bizarre Japanese animated sex does not end with video games. As Leigh Alexander explains about eroge games in the referenced Slate article, “They’re usually sold alongside glossy comics, figurines, and animated smut in shops that cater to a common fetish for animated women.” In the West, the Japanese term hentai refers to pornographic comics and anime. The slang understanding of this term is usually meant to refer to the large volume of sexually graphic Japanese anime.

What does the popularity and large production of hentai in Japan say about Japanese culture? At the very least, video games like RapeLay that focus on sexual violence are an example of extreme pornography and a good indication of the sexually repressive nature of Japanese society. For a Westerner such as myself, the popularity of even non-violent hentai in Japan is confusing enough. Pornography may be universal, but why choose animated porn? The standard answer of course is that anime is widely popular in Japan and all media forms are eventually used for pornographic purposes (I can say this with a good deal of confidence after visiting the Amsterdam sex museum over winter break). Nonetheless, the appeal of hentai is quite mysterious to me even when I consider the effects of greater Japanese exposure to the media form of anime. I loved Dragon Ball Z as a kid, but I don’t think watching lots of other shows exactly like it would make me sexually attracted to anime characters. Also, anime seems like a particularly strange choice for Japan given that Japan had more than 20 million broadband access subscribers as of June 2005, or 43.5 percent of its households with broadband connectivity. In a society loaded with high speed internet access, one would think that people would stick to high resolution videos. Anyways, I hope this topic sparks some interesting conversations.

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I love to debate, but I hate it when people take arguments about their politics personally. I love to travel for free. It's one of the best things I've gotten from my CMC education. Sunday is often the most frustrating day of my week (I'm a 49ers fan).

43 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t understand how anyone could be sexually attracted to a woman. How is this any different? We are clearly a species with diverse sexual interests and I personally don’t see the necessity to attempt to understand why someone finds something attractive. I don’t quite understand hentai either and happen to share your personal disgust for the mentioned “rape simulator,” but simulators are not real and nobody is actually hurt. Your cry for “humanity” is quite unnecessary. Furthermore, your critique of Japanese culture’s embrace of hentai is hypocritical. We live in America, producer of Grand Theft Auto and Kill Bill. I don’t have statistics, but I would guess that we produce more pornographic material per capita than any other people. If nobody is getting hurt, let’s leave the Japanese alone.

  2. I don’t understand how anyone could be sexually attracted to a woman. How is this any different? We are clearly a species with diverse sexual interests and I personally don’t see the necessity to attempt to understand why someone finds something attractive. I don’t quite understand hentai either and happen to share your personal disgust for the mentioned “rape simulator,” but simulators are not real and nobody is actually hurt. Your cry for “humanity” is quite unnecessary. Furthermore, your critique of Japanese culture’s embrace of hentai is hypocritical. We live in America, producer of Grand Theft Auto and Kill Bill. I don’t have statistics, but I would guess that we produce more pornographic material per capita than any other people. If nobody is getting hurt, let’s leave the Japanese alone.

  3. I don’t understand how anyone could be sexually attracted to a woman. How is this any different? We are clearly a species with diverse sexual interests and I personally don’t see the necessity to attempt to understand why someone finds something attractive. I don’t quite understand hentai either and happen to share your personal disgust for the mentioned “rape simulator,” but simulators are not real and nobody is actually hurt. Your cry for “humanity” is quite unnecessary. Furthermore, your critique of Japanese culture’s embrace of hentai is hypocritical. We live in America, producer of Grand Theft Auto and Kill Bill. I don’t have statistics, but I would guess that we produce more pornographic material per capita than any other people. If nobody is getting hurt, let’s leave the Japanese alone.

  4. Beyond hentai rape, there exists terabyte upon terabyte of perfectly legal animated child porn due to the fact that a depiction of a child participating in voluntary OR involuntary sexual activity cannot be properly identified as a minor. I don’t know if I’m advocating thought-police to identify and ban child-rape hentai, but it’s something I think you, Karthik, take all too lightly.

  5. Beyond hentai rape, there exists terabyte upon terabyte of perfectly legal animated child porn due to the fact that a depiction of a child participating in voluntary OR involuntary sexual activity cannot be properly identified as a minor. I don’t know if I’m advocating thought-police to identify and ban child-rape hentai, but it’s something I think you, Karthik, take all too lightly.

  6. Beyond hentai rape, there exists terabyte upon terabyte of perfectly legal animated child porn due to the fact that a depiction of a child participating in voluntary OR involuntary sexual activity cannot be properly identified as a minor. I don’t know if I’m advocating thought-police to identify and ban child-rape hentai, but it’s something I think you, Karthik, take all too lightly.

  7. Karthik,
    I think your post has permanently shut off any possibility of pursuing public office. Not because you admit to being gay, but because you defend hentai. Try explaining that to future voters.

  8. Karthik,
    I think you are taking this piece a bit too seriously. I’m not suggesting we ban hentai, but just musing on how strange this type of porn is. Also, rape simulators may not hurt anybody directly (who knows the indirect effects of having people play them), but they are certainly a quite disturbing pastime for a human being.

  9. Quit being such a prude. I bet half of the people in this school have watched more disturbing porn. Gangbangs, bukkake, beastiality, pegging, drunken date rape or fake real rape, Nuns masturbating with crosses, Grandpas having sex with 18 yr old daughters, incest, two girls one cup, vampire sex, tentacle sex (live and hentai), tubgirl, necrophilia, maxx hardcore, milfs having sex with their son’s friends, babysitter sex, foreign prostitute sex, degrading sex, etc.That doesnjt make me(us) perverts. Oh wait…

  10. Quit being such a prude. I bet half of the people in this school have watched more disturbing porn. Gangbangs, bukkake, beastiality, pegging, drunken date rape or fake real rape, Nuns masturbating with crosses, Grandpas having sex with 18 yr old daughters, incest, two girls one cup, vampire sex, tentacle sex (live and hentai), tubgirl, necrophilia, maxx hardcore, milfs having sex with their son’s friends, babysitter sex, foreign prostitute sex, degrading sex, etc.That doesnjt make me(us) perverts. Oh wait…

  11. Quit being such a prude. I bet half of the people in this school have watched more disturbing porn. Gangbangs, bukkake, beastiality, pegging, drunken date rape or fake real rape, Nuns masturbating with crosses, Grandpas having sex with 18 yr old daughters, incest, two girls one cup, vampire sex, tentacle sex (live and hentai), tubgirl, necrophilia, maxx hardcore, milfs having sex with their son’s friends, babysitter sex, foreign prostitute sex, degrading sex, etc.That doesnjt make me(us) perverts. Oh wait…

  12. Charlie:

    I absolutely agree that if empirical evidence demonstrates that a rape simulator or violent video games encourage such activity in real life, they should be banned. I don’t know what the scientific verdict is and a 2-minute Google search on the subject did not allow me to reach conclusive results. My argument is merely a hypothetical one. Irrespective of the fact that we consider rape simulators and other types of hentai “disturbing pastimes,” we should allow those who wish to watch offensive pornography and play violent games the right to do so, provided that nobody is getting hurt.

    But then another question…”Weird” is an incredibly relative term. I think buying a purple car is weird. What goal does voicing personal views of a certain type of pornography in a public forum realize?

    Karthik

  13. Charlie:

    I absolutely agree that if empirical evidence demonstrates that a rape simulator or violent video games encourage such activity in real life, they should be banned. I don’t know what the scientific verdict is and a 2-minute Google search on the subject did not allow me to reach conclusive results. My argument is merely a hypothetical one. Irrespective of the fact that we consider rape simulators and other types of hentai “disturbing pastimes,” we should allow those who wish to watch offensive pornography and play violent games the right to do so, provided that nobody is getting hurt.

    But then another question…”Weird” is an incredibly relative term. I think buying a purple car is weird. What goal does voicing personal views of a certain type of pornography in a public forum realize?

    Karthik

  14. Charlie:

    I absolutely agree that if empirical evidence demonstrates that a rape simulator or violent video games encourage such activity in real life, they should be banned. I don’t know what the scientific verdict is and a 2-minute Google search on the subject did not allow me to reach conclusive results. My argument is merely a hypothetical one. Irrespective of the fact that we consider rape simulators and other types of hentai “disturbing pastimes,” we should allow those who wish to watch offensive pornography and play violent games the right to do so, provided that nobody is getting hurt.

    But then another question…”Weird” is an incredibly relative term. I think buying a purple car is weird. What goal does voicing personal views of a certain type of pornography in a public forum realize?

    Karthik

  15. Aggressive pornography has been shown to encourage violence against women. The effect is small, but it is real and testable. Is the effect so large as to advocate a ban and can a ban be enforced, that is the issue.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11351835?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    Malamuth et al, 2000
    Pornography and sexual aggression: are there reliable effects and can we understand them?

  16. Aggressive pornography has been shown to encourage violence against women. The effect is small, but it is real and testable. Is the effect so large as to advocate a ban and can a ban be enforced, that is the issue.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11351835?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    Malamuth et al, 2000
    Pornography and sexual aggression: are there reliable effects and can we understand them?

  17. Aggressive pornography has been shown to encourage violence against women. The effect is small, but it is real and testable. Is the effect so large as to advocate a ban and can a ban be enforced, that is the issue.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11351835?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    Malamuth et al, 2000
    Pornography and sexual aggression: are there reliable effects and can we understand them?

  18. I’m not a fan of either porn or video games, but I defend the rights of people to consume either. As for Japanese rape video games, I’m not saying that it’s something I would necessarily indulge in, but I wouldn’t knock it unless I tried it. It could be fun in that way that things that are so obviously cultural strange are.

    And I think the jury is still out on whether or not pornography causes violence against women. In fact, my favorite article on this topic is from Slate, so I think I’ll just cite it’s conclusion on internet pornography’s effects on rape here:

    The bottom line on these experiments is, “More Net access, less rape.” A 10 percent increase in Net access yields about a 7.3 percent decrease in reported rapes. States that adopted the Internet quickly saw the biggest declines. And, according to Clemson professor Todd Kendall, the effects remain even after you control for all of the obvious confounding variables, such as alcohol consumption, police presence, poverty and unemployment rates, population density, and so forth.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2152487/

  19. I’m not a fan of either porn or video games, but I defend the rights of people to consume either. As for Japanese rape video games, I’m not saying that it’s something I would necessarily indulge in, but I wouldn’t knock it unless I tried it. It could be fun in that way that things that are so obviously cultural strange are.

    And I think the jury is still out on whether or not pornography causes violence against women. In fact, my favorite article on this topic is from Slate, so I think I’ll just cite it’s conclusion on internet pornography’s effects on rape here:

    The bottom line on these experiments is, “More Net access, less rape.” A 10 percent increase in Net access yields about a 7.3 percent decrease in reported rapes. States that adopted the Internet quickly saw the biggest declines. And, according to Clemson professor Todd Kendall, the effects remain even after you control for all of the obvious confounding variables, such as alcohol consumption, police presence, poverty and unemployment rates, population density, and so forth.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2152487/

  20. I’m not a fan of either porn or video games, but I defend the rights of people to consume either. As for Japanese rape video games, I’m not saying that it’s something I would necessarily indulge in, but I wouldn’t knock it unless I tried it. It could be fun in that way that things that are so obviously cultural strange are.

    And I think the jury is still out on whether or not pornography causes violence against women. In fact, my favorite article on this topic is from Slate, so I think I’ll just cite it’s conclusion on internet pornography’s effects on rape here:

    The bottom line on these experiments is, “More Net access, less rape.” A 10 percent increase in Net access yields about a 7.3 percent decrease in reported rapes. States that adopted the Internet quickly saw the biggest declines. And, according to Clemson professor Todd Kendall, the effects remain even after you control for all of the obvious confounding variables, such as alcohol consumption, police presence, poverty and unemployment rates, population density, and so forth.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2152487/

  21. i find it extremely interesting that this post has spurred such heated comments about “the rights of people to consume” whatever they want and how a simulation isn’t real so it doesn’t hurt anyone. sure, as pervert mentioned. we have all seen our fair share of weird porn, but that doesn’t mean we participate in a game that simulates RAPING WOMEN. as men, you have absolutely no say in how this effects women. what if that was your ass getting raped.. well, you might like it apparently. but as a women, i am appalled at a game that would include this type of behavior. i would rather get shot by a kid obsessed with GTA than raped by some japanese nasty who is mimicking his hentai game.

  22. i find it extremely interesting that this post has spurred such heated comments about “the rights of people to consume” whatever they want and how a simulation isn’t real so it doesn’t hurt anyone. sure, as pervert mentioned. we have all seen our fair share of weird porn, but that doesn’t mean we participate in a game that simulates RAPING WOMEN. as men, you have absolutely no say in how this effects women. what if that was your ass getting raped.. well, you might like it apparently. but as a women, i am appalled at a game that would include this type of behavior. i would rather get shot by a kid obsessed with GTA than raped by some japanese nasty who is mimicking his hentai game.

  23. i find it extremely interesting that this post has spurred such heated comments about “the rights of people to consume” whatever they want and how a simulation isn’t real so it doesn’t hurt anyone. sure, as pervert mentioned. we have all seen our fair share of weird porn, but that doesn’t mean we participate in a game that simulates RAPING WOMEN. as men, you have absolutely no say in how this effects women. what if that was your ass getting raped.. well, you might like it apparently. but as a women, i am appalled at a game that would include this type of behavior. i would rather get shot by a kid obsessed with GTA than raped by some japanese nasty who is mimicking his hentai game.

  24. Charles, you can believe Pubmed, a collection of real scientific experiments, or you can believe slate, an opinion website. You can believe a real scientific study where the only variable manipulated was the one variable studied(violent pornography) or you can believe an article which studies web usage and shows that web usage in general lowers rape incidences. I’m guessing you haven’t taken a stats class so I won’t get into the whole idea of confounding factors but needless to say, the pubmed experimental study has much more credence to the topic at hand than a slate article showing that the internet somehow lowers rape incidences. Personally, I think both articles are correct but that still means violent pornography leads to more rape. Personally, I don’t care if people watching porn leads to more rape as I don’t advocate paternalistic systems.

    And to please don’t rape me, have you ever been raped? I have. And I still thank god every day that I’m alive. Death is so much worse than rape. Are you seriously arguing that rape is worse than death? You get used and abused a bit, suffer the mental and physical aspects of rape, but you move on ever so slowly. Us rape victims don’t need your fake sympathy that rape is the worst thing that can possibly occur. We deal with it and move on, ever so slowly.

  25. Charles, you can believe Pubmed, a collection of real scientific experiments, or you can believe slate, an opinion website. You can believe a real scientific study where the only variable manipulated was the one variable studied(violent pornography) or you can believe an article which studies web usage and shows that web usage in general lowers rape incidences. I’m guessing you haven’t taken a stats class so I won’t get into the whole idea of confounding factors but needless to say, the pubmed experimental study has much more credence to the topic at hand than a slate article showing that the internet somehow lowers rape incidences. Personally, I think both articles are correct but that still means violent pornography leads to more rape. Personally, I don’t care if people watching porn leads to more rape as I don’t advocate paternalistic systems.

    And to please don’t rape me, have you ever been raped? I have. And I still thank god every day that I’m alive. Death is so much worse than rape. Are you seriously arguing that rape is worse than death? You get used and abused a bit, suffer the mental and physical aspects of rape, but you move on ever so slowly. Us rape victims don’t need your fake sympathy that rape is the worst thing that can possibly occur. We deal with it and move on, ever so slowly.

  26. Charles, you can believe Pubmed, a collection of real scientific experiments, or you can believe slate, an opinion website. You can believe a real scientific study where the only variable manipulated was the one variable studied(violent pornography) or you can believe an article which studies web usage and shows that web usage in general lowers rape incidences. I’m guessing you haven’t taken a stats class so I won’t get into the whole idea of confounding factors but needless to say, the pubmed experimental study has much more credence to the topic at hand than a slate article showing that the internet somehow lowers rape incidences. Personally, I think both articles are correct but that still means violent pornography leads to more rape. Personally, I don’t care if people watching porn leads to more rape as I don’t advocate paternalistic systems.

    And to please don’t rape me, have you ever been raped? I have. And I still thank god every day that I’m alive. Death is so much worse than rape. Are you seriously arguing that rape is worse than death? You get used and abused a bit, suffer the mental and physical aspects of rape, but you move on ever so slowly. Us rape victims don’t need your fake sympathy that rape is the worst thing that can possibly occur. We deal with it and move on, ever so slowly.

  27. why yes pervert, i actually have as well.. unfortunately for both of us it seems. and are you sure that death is worse than rape? maybe you feel fine now, but some people kill themselves over their painful experiences. in any case, i was merely commenting on the absurdity of comparing violent video games in the US as a justification for sexually twisted games in japan.

  28. why yes pervert, i actually have as well.. unfortunately for both of us it seems. and are you sure that death is worse than rape? maybe you feel fine now, but some people kill themselves over their painful experiences. in any case, i was merely commenting on the absurdity of comparing violent video games in the US as a justification for sexually twisted games in japan.

  29. why yes pervert, i actually have as well.. unfortunately for both of us it seems. and are you sure that death is worse than rape? maybe you feel fine now, but some people kill themselves over their painful experiences. in any case, i was merely commenting on the absurdity of comparing violent video games in the US as a justification for sexually twisted games in japan.

  30. I wonder why pdrm thinks that there hasn’t been a substantial amount of rape simulating pornography for at the very least decades circulating around our western society. What is the distinction you would draw between a game that simulates rape and, say, Moms Teaching Teens or Sleep Creep (yes, as I discovered just now, they are exactly what they sound like)? Would you say that actively participating in a game that encourages (perhaps arguably) the rape of women is more indicative of the continuing destruction of appropriate social norms and people’s lives than watching a real human being do it on live action video? Which do you think is more encouraging? How could you possibly draw the line between “weird” and “rape-inducing”? I guess this question should really be directed at Charlie, since he was the originator of the angst.

    • I guess the distinction between the rape porn and the simulator game. is that in one your a witness and in the other your an active participant.

  31. I wonder why pdrm thinks that there hasn’t been a substantial amount of rape simulating pornography for at the very least decades circulating around our western society. What is the distinction you would draw between a game that simulates rape and, say, Moms Teaching Teens or Sleep Creep (yes, as I discovered just now, they are exactly what they sound like)? Would you say that actively participating in a game that encourages (perhaps arguably) the rape of women is more indicative of the continuing destruction of appropriate social norms and people’s lives than watching a real human being do it on live action video? Which do you think is more encouraging? How could you possibly draw the line between “weird” and “rape-inducing”? I guess this question should really be directed at Charlie, since he was the originator of the angst.

  32. I wonder why pdrm thinks that there hasn’t been a substantial amount of rape simulating pornography for at the very least decades circulating around our western society. What is the distinction you would draw between a game that simulates rape and, say, Moms Teaching Teens or Sleep Creep (yes, as I discovered just now, they are exactly what they sound like)? Would you say that actively participating in a game that encourages (perhaps arguably) the rape of women is more indicative of the continuing destruction of appropriate social norms and people’s lives than watching a real human being do it on live action video? Which do you think is more encouraging? How could you possibly draw the line between “weird” and “rape-inducing”? I guess this question should really be directed at Charlie, since he was the originator of the angst.

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