Author Cites 26-year Old Title for Rape Scene in Game Violence Bash

March 21, 2008 -
A University of Calgary professor cites 1982 game release Custer's Revenge in an op-ed piece about current video game violence issues for the Calgary Herald.

Author Tom Keenan is described as an award-winning science writer and professional speaker. That he may be, but his knowledge of the game space is clearly limited. His article focuses in part on the well-known theories of retired Lt. Col Dave Grossman, who coined the term "murder simulator" to describe the first-person shooter genre.

Keenan also touches on U.S. Defense Department recruiting game, America's Army. But it is his remarks about Custer's Revenge that caught GP's eye, particularly in a time when video games have been wrongly accused of including interactive rape by prominent political figures in the United States (see: Rape in Video Games? Top Aide to Boston Mayor Says Yes at Legislative Hearing) and Great Britain (see: Video Games Linked to Rape in Parliament Debate). Here's what Keenan wrote:
You won't see strippers suddenly appear [in America's Army], or be encouraged to rape a virtual character, as happens in the hideous Custer's Revenge game...

Cortisol is a naturally occurring hormone that's related to stress, so the researchers claim their technique can "cut stress off at the pass," at least for some people.

Unless of course, you're busy playing America's Army or, even worse, Custer's Revenge. In that case, you're on your own to manage your stress.

Playing Custer's Revenge? Who can even find Custer's Revenge, much less play it? The game was released 26 years ago by a publisher that no longer exists for a console that you might be able to locate on Ebay if you searched diligently.

Judging by its Wikipedia entry, Custer's Revenge is surely a disgusting excuse for a game:
Custer's Revenge (also known as Westward Ho) is a pornographic video game made for the Atari 2600 by Mystique, a company that produced a number of adult video game titles for the system. The game was first released on October 13, 1982 and has received significant criticism because of its crude simulation of an apparent rape of a physically restrained Native American woman.

Nasty business, to be sure. But as far as video games are concerned, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since 1982.

Most notably, the creation of the video game rating system now guides parental purchasing choices. Moreover, a game with an interactive rape scene would surely garner the retail-killing Adults Only rating. Additional factors preventing a modern Custers Revenge-like product include the entrance of increasing numbers of women into game development as well as the general maturation process of the video game industry.

That said, we don't suspect that Tom Keenan is a bad guy, just badly-informed when it comes to games. It is distressing, however, to see this kind of nonsense regurgitated in a mainstream newspaper. Readership of such publications generally skews older. Misinformation like this simply tends to reinforce existing cultural stereotypes of gamers and their hobby as disreputable and depraved.

Comments

@Mark

Yes, it did exist, but it existed before the ESRB even existed, and before the BBFC started to preside over Video Games, the fact is that its existence holds no bearing whatsoever on the modern Video Game situation, and had a game with the same theme been released today, it would not have passed classification. The article actively avoids making that clear.

It's sad. This is probably going to be blown all out of proportion by the mainstream press.

They care very little about context when it doesn't serve their game bashing agenda. Someone claims rape in a game. Gamers say name one. They say Custer's Revenge. Gamers say but that's 26 years old! They say it doesn't matter, we found one - and more than that my 11 year old was able to buy it easily on ebay without being carded... EVEN WORSE it wasn't even rated by the ESRB! Down with the ESRB!

I can just see it now.

What's next? Gramophones causing teen pregnancy?

I would like to say if he was looking for a rape game he should have gone to Japan, they have a few hentai games (even some that have been translated) that allow the player to "rape" a girl, of course the games are still frame sex scenes, they are cartoony, and last but not least most of them you die if you choose that option (one I remember has the girl beat the ever loving crap out of you and ends with you dying a just reward for such an act but thats my opinion).

As for Custer Revenge, first off she is only restrained on the box art, if she is restrained in the game well you have to use your imagination to picture that since frankly she is more or less two boxes on a couple of rectangles for limbs. Second off that game was criticized when it came out and was hidden behind the counter as to avoid children seeing it, I truly doubt that any child from the 80s can even recall seeing that game let alone playing it (unless it was a lot later on). Claiming that game in current culture is like claiming Oedipus encourages our children to kill their fathers and marry their mothers.

Let's face it, another retard was given a voice in the media/world/whatever and when he spews crap out and gets called on it instead of being a real man he pulls at straws. (Actually thats not fair I should say another paris hilton brain sized individual instead of retard as lumping him in with the mentally disabled is an insult to them and their disability)

It's like the guy who shows up the wrong day for a party, except this guy is 26 years late.

And if playing FPS taught me one thing is how easy it is to be killed in a firefight. Not how to kill people.

@chopperlink

1. Make themselves look important
2. Deflect blame
3. Ask for money
4. Because they can't think of anything else that "corrupts" people
5. They're stupid
6. They're morons

I could go on for quite some time.

I believe Robert William's (creator of King's Quest) "Phantasmagoria" had a non-interactive rape scene in it. Not too sure how graphic it was but at least it's more current than Custer.

Yeah, funny how a news crew is always there and ready to witness this sort of thing...

Does it ever occur to anyone (to any non-gamers)that a kid might blame his crime on videogames to get a reduced sentence? Or his/her fifteen minutes of fame?

"Do we blame the government, do we blame ourselves? No! Blame Canada! Blame Canada! They're not even a real country anyway!"

etc.. etc..

Jack Thompson has infected the minds of the public. He is a disease that has spread across the land like a plague. Las Plagas JT. I believe he was created by the Umbrella Corporation.

@ Karsten

Personally the subject of rape hits very close to home, one of my sisters and my ex-girlfriend we're raped. So the subject is touchy for me. Thing that glamorize them I have a large problem with. Thing is Custard's Revenge has a "supposed rape scene" Few people can really say "It's rape!" even then, is it really? Or is it glamorized BDSM?

See it for yourself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwdz7EEy36k

Now, excuse me, after watching that I need to go and find myself a cactus ...

@Ebonheart
Remember the Janet Jackson incident everyone yelling around going “OH MI GAWD A BOOB! THINK OF THE CHILDREN! IT’S DESTROYING THEIR FRAGILE MINDS!”

The thing I found most amusing about that is that every single child who didn't starve to death within 2 days of birth and wasn't put on baby formula immediately has seen nipples.

What might be interesting is to get the relese date of custers revenge and cross check the crime figures to see if there was a sizeable increase in sexual assualt cases in the months following release

@DavCube:

I just bought ET the other day in a local game store, so they do exist ;)

@DarkSaber2k

I wish we could do something. I'd make a big fuss myself and do something about it, but no one seems to ever be concerned that games will erode a girl's morals. (That alone makes me madder than this Custer's Revenge thing...)

We need real refutations, and strong arguments. Real scientific studies, stricter analysis of supposed killer gamers. Comparing the violence levels of gamers and football players. Gamers vs. getting your phone/tv/internet taken away. Gamers vs. breaking up with a boyfriend/girlfriend. Ideally, all this and far greater exposure. Even then, there's no guarantee.

Whether you play a 360, ps3, pc, or the wii, we all need to be united on this.

@ Elalonna

"no one seems to ever be concerned that games will erode a girl’s morals"

Well those Harvard brain scans! They prove those morals are set in stone. Those Harvard brain scans! [Insert other false things attributed to] those Harvard brain scans prove it!

@Elalonna

I agree. But instead all we seem to get is Hal Halpin saying 'I'M GREAT! LOOK HOW GREAT I AM GAMERS! I'M A GAMER TOO THAT'S HOW GREAT I AM! ME ME ME! WHEEE!' etc etc (Exageration for comedy effect, but that's how he comes across to me.)

Just... wow.

We are talking about graphics so dated they probably wouldn't need a pixilation censor for TV, since it wouldn't really affect the picture. So are we going to bring back the Smurfs game for unreported nudity in a childrens game?

I'm just going to go with "He's a tool." While he may not be required to do the research and can write what he wants, I'd like to see him open a dialogue with someone in the gaming industry to help correct his misconceptions. This is in no way related to JT and his requesting access to this site. I said start a dialogue, not yell and scream about things being unfair for no reason.

In other news, slaves were freed, we landed on the moon, and the USSR no longer exists.

They really are dredging the bottom of the barrel for excuses now....

8-bit nudity was sad in it's own way, but citing a 26 year-old source seems... ...lazy. Very, very lazy.

OMG they actually referred to this game? I wonder if they seen it! If you want to check out this game find "Angry Video Game Nerd's" review of the Atari sex games.

Custer's Revenge? Seriously? I've seen Legos that are more erotic than that. Not to mention as Dennis said, it'd be damn hard to find the console or the game would be damned hard, and no game like it has touched a console since. Hell, I don't think any ROM sites even host it.

By this man's logic nowadays the consoles should have hundreds of such games available.

8-bit? This was Atari 2600. 8-bit came later.

It's amusing that after everyone on this site commenting that the only game with rape in it that they could think of was Custer's Revenge, that someone cites it a few days later in an article.
It's saddening that they can print that and not clarify that they're talking about a 20-odd year old game.

SERIOUSLY? Custer's Revenge? That's the best he can come up with, an Atari 2600 game that wasn't even licensed?

Custer's Revenge is a repetitive one-screen game from what I've seen anyway. I doubt anyone would play it for more than about two minutes.

I also like the fact that the graphics are so bad, that they have to say "apparent rape" because you can't really tell what the hell is going on. XD

This was predicted yesterday. Ironic that someone should cite it the next day!

I love Custer's Revenge. It's so fun.

Those lines falling from the sky are a real killer to boners.

I literally fell out of my chair when I saw this. Damn this guy is diligent. I bet he knew that he was talking out of his ass when he made the allegation that games "lets kidz rape" and he shit a brick when someone called him on it. So like any good politician, instead of recanting his statement, he goes on a 'fact finding mission' to proof his allegation and guess what? He finds something. Kudos sir, Kudos...we shall now follow you because games promote rape.

Haha, I remember seeing this game while link hoping on wikipedia. Aside from the fact it came out 6 years before I was born, have you ever seen a screenshot? It's barely discernible, Custard is essentially a rectangle with a 1 pixel long line coming off it at a 60 degree angle.

@DeusPayne
Well said comment. this game was made before even the ESRB was formed to rate it. people need to forget what happened to videogames before it was even a profitable industry, hell this game was made before the Berlin wall came down!

In other news, "Leisure Suit Larry" (1987) promotes prostitution and the idea that black pimps are of subnormal intelligence!

I think it says a lot about the industry today if the worst that he can drag up is a game from 26 years ago.

Wow. Someone found a game that promotes rape. Too bad we already knew about it and it is long dead.

Now I encourage you to find one that has been released in major retailers in the last TEN years and then come back to me.

I'm actually surprised he didn't whip out some hentai game or whatnot and use that for reference. Still, I think this is much more pathetic...wow...

Thats not under the bridge, thats water under the bridge, into the ocean, evaporated, rained upon the mountains and then under the bridge once more... 26 times over. Oy.

Someone should leak a rumour that a mjor production company are going to start work on a port of Battle Raper and see how much idiocy arises.

Not to defend him, but...the game does exist. Yes, he should have clarified that it's a game that would be hard, if not impossible to actually find, however, it is a game that does simulate rape.

It doesn't matter that it is dated, blurry, and otherwise out of the mainstream, the fact is that the game does exist and it does have rape in it. Owning up to it and making it clear that such a thing doesn't happen now is surely a better tactic instead of just saying "Bah, he's so uninformed," even if he is.

The Herald should be obligated to clarify the statements in this article. It is grossly misrepresentative of the current state of gaming, and should be acknowledged as such.

I remember when Custer's Revenge came out. There were protests over it. You couldn't get that game in most (if any) stores even then.

And, oh yes, I was FIVE when it happened.

If I can remember that non-event twenty-six years later, then what's Mr. Keenan's excuse for not remembering?

In a 2005 conference on pornography and prostitution, Custer's Revenge was already mentioned ( http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3693/is_200507/ai_n15665844/pg_9 ) :

[Andrea Dworkin] "identified many modern examples of the racist misogyny of white men including the prevalent stereotype of American Indians as "unclean" and the video game "Custer's Revenge" in which players score points for raping American Indian women."

But then, the subject was not video games, but pornography.

Back to Keenan's article, the big problem is that... it's a bad article. First, he takes outdated examples : from "Custer's Revenge" to "Duke Nukem 3D (the strippers mention), and even "America's Army" is getting quite old. Second, he's parroting sources that are not really the best ones. For example, Dave Grossman's interview in Executive Intelligence Review, i.e. Lyndon LaRouche's review. Third... uh, what was the point of this article, indeed ?

A bit of history: "Custer's Revenge" and all the other Atari porno games were kept behind the counter in stores and only available to adults upon request. They also came with leather cases that could be locked to keep kids from playing.

I know this based on what I've read and heard. The Playaround/Mystique series was 2 years before my time.

PS : for those who want to email Tom Keenan personally. Beware, because there are many different Tom Keenans, so don't pick up the bad one. From the description given in the Calgary Herald, I assume it's this guy : http://www.cmss.ucalgary.ca/fellows/keenan

There's an email address on it. But if it's the "good" Tom Keenan, please, PLEASE, let us all remain civil in our discussion with him !

Custer's Revenge was created before game companies had a say what games could be allowed on their systems.

Okay okay okay. We were joking about this "game" in one of the other "OMG Vija gamez haz teh rape!" stories.

Which one of you guys told this idiot about it? Come on, fess up now and we'll go easy on you... Maybe...

Joking aside: Custers revenge? CUSTERS FUCKING REVENGE???? Anyone else have the urge to find it on ebay, send it to this guy and say "Hope you can find something to play it on"?

That or making a giant cardboard cutout of the alligators from Pitfall and then chasing him around making rather pathetic growling noises.

@Mark
It DOES matter that it's dated. This would be like amping up police patrols of a neighborhood because of a rape that happened 26 years ago, despite the fact that there's been no rape reported in that area since.
Let's face it, if we're going to acknowledge Custer's Revenge as a valid argument, then it doesn't matter what the video game industry does, because people will always be able to point back at this ancient game and say "Look, video games have rape in it!"

The issue is that this writer is condemning the current video game industry for a game that was produced by a very different industry in a very different time. Custer's Revenge could never be published today. So today's proverbial VG industry sons shouldn't be punished for the sins of, honestly, I wouldn't even call it the fathers - more like the crazy drunken uncles that everyone avoids at family reunions.

Even when it was first released, you were lucky to find it in any store. If the store had it, it was hidden under the desk, and you were asked for ID before purchasing.

You have better lucky finding real porn then finding Cluster's Revenge.

Really Custers Revenge? I mean if this was say 1983 I could understand the objection but it's been over two decades since the games release, how is this in any way related to the current game market?

Okay look I'm more than happy to have an actual debate with these guys on the merits of certain games. However it's really hard to debate someone when all they do is use outdated data, or just fundamentally wrong data.
 
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