Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned in the U.S.

May 29, 2009 -

The embers of the RapeLay controversy were stirred a bit yesterday with a report that the game - and others of its ilk - had been banned in Japan. Not by the government, mind you, but by an industry standards organization.

As it turned out, the report was false, but it prompted a great deal of hand-wringing about Japanese censorship. And yet, RapeLay is already banned - in advance - in the United States by an industry standards organization: the ESRB. Again, it's not a government ban, but it is a de facto ban.

Think about it. Video game retailers won't carry unrated games, which would require RapeLay's publisher to submit the software to the ESRB for a rating. Given its digusting subject matter, RapeLay would certainly be tagged with the quickest AO (adults only) rating ever issued by the ESRB. If you think back to the 2007 Manhunt 2 situation, you'll recall that major retailers won't carry AO-rated games and console manufacturers won't license them. That last bit wouldn't be a problem for RapeLay, of course, since it's a PC game.

Yes, the game could still be sold online by independents. Even governments have a hard time stopping that. But the AO rating is retail death and everyone in the video game business understands that. No publisher would waste their time and money submitting a RapeLay to the ESRB, which is why I maintain that such games are banned in advance. I don't have a problem with any of this, by the way. It's how the system was designed to work. True, there are occasional calls for a marketable AO rating. But the ESRB would probably need to create an XXX rating to accomodate games like RapeLay if AO ever became acceptable to Wal-Mart and GameStop.

And while RapeLay's developers are within their rights to create a game based upon sexual violence and pedophilia, retailers are certainly within theirs not to carry the game. Women's groups are free to protest its messages. And the rest of us are free to be creeped out by RapeLay.


Comments

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

Ugh, if people can have their lives ruined or go to prison for several years over a piece of fictional media that doesn't even use real people, then the terrorists have already won.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

agreed..

 

its insane! Some1 can be locked up for literally a certain arrangement of coloured pencil markings on some paper. thats f***g ridiculous. Nobody is harmed.. i dont understand what the crime really is, or how locking some1 up for it is in the best interests of ....well.... anyone.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

Man, I find myself in 100% agreement with you on every post you make on here.

This comes back to my argument that obscenity laws need to be abolished. What is their point? Videos or other media that depict real people being harmed already fall under other laws, so there's no problem there. What it comes down to is that obscenity laws allow someone to be prosecuted (or for something to be banned) for something that is only illegal because of the 'sensibilities' of other people. The result of any obscenity case is highly dependant on the judge and jury.

You can check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obscenity_law#United_States_obscenity_law to really see how fucked up these laws are.

The fact that someone can go to jail for DRAWINGS angers me to no end. Can we please stop legislating morality? 

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

Im at a loss for words after looking at that wiki page. Im confused as to how much illogical and unconstitutional (maybe) laws are enacted in this nation and not removed by the Supreme Court. Is it that no one pushes them forward for review, or that they are afraid to set a standard for the nation to be run by? I think i might just have to bring this up in my civics class now...

In war, truth is the first casualty.

In war, truth is the first casualty.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

That was only because he pleaded guilty.

He could have pleaded not guilty and fought for his innocence. I'm curious why he didn't.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

"I'm curious why he didn't"

Then read up on the case more. His lawyer advised him to plead guilty because he knew that in Utah (I think it was Utah anyway) the jury weren't likely to have any knowledge of Manga or japanese culture and as soon as they saw any of the loli images any chance of winning the case was gone. Pleading guilty was damage control, nothing more.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

Utah??

that sucks for him :/  He probably would of had a change in red states where religion wouldn't have engulfed the 'entire' jury

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

Best guess?  Neither he nor his lawyer felt that they could convince a jury that the material was not obscene.

Which unfortunately has now set a precedent which can be used by prosecutors as an example of the law being valid. It significantly increases the hurdle for successfully challenging it.

Other cases like this (not unheard of in the bdsm community) have drug on for years and rarely turn out well for the defendant... so his lawyer probably drew on what the system does to people who try to defend themselves against obscenity laws.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

I think the fear (and freting) comes about that most organizations that scream for censorship want a governmental ban not an organizational ban.  I love the ESRB, its a great concept and it works well at helping parents to know what to buy a child but frankly for me its useless due to I'm old enough to make my own decisions about items.  And though no organization would submit RapeLay to ESRB it still doesn't stop them from creating such work.  I like that I can buy a game that indulges in concepts that I would find morally rephersenible in real life or touches topics that make me uneasy (I also like buying books and movies that do the same thing).  What these organizaions want is not to stop such work from being on the market they want to stop them from being created they want control over what people are allowed to think, read, etc based on what they feel is morally right and wrong.  This is why even though I find RapeLay to be lacking as a game and one I have no desire to own I would fight for its right to be sold and be created.  I have no rights to tell you what you can think just as you have no right to tell me.

 

As for the game being already banned this is true for companies such as Wal-Mart and GameStop but personally those are not the only retailers and though they may not carry the product it doesn't stop the product from existing and me from acquring it.  So it may be banned in a sense from Wal-Mart but so is most things you can find in a Head Shop or in the Hustler Store this doesn't stop those products from being made and sold.

 

 

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

You don't have a problem with de-facto censorship resulting in what amounts to the banning of unpalateable content?

Hmm.  I just went outside to check - the school building opposite my house is still flying the American flag, not the Chinese one.  For a moment there I thought we must have been invaded, and that you were welcoming our communist overlords.

The system is NOT supposed to work this way.  People are supposed to have the right to freedom of expression in this country, and we are supposed to have access to a FREE market, not a tightly controlled one.  A ban - even one imposed by distributors - is evidence that US freedoms mean very little when powerful unelected bodies hold sway over parts of our lives.

If I want to play a game that portrays rape, I should have every right to do so.  Why? - because it's JUST A GAME!  No one is being raped - all it is is a fictional portrayal just like we see on TV or read in books.  What's next?  Are we going to ban all books and movies that include rape scenes?

I play games where many people are murdered - that seems to be permitted by the ESRB - why is pixellated rape worse than pixellated mass murder?

It seems some folks are more than willing to sacrifice MY freedoms on the altar of THEIR morality.  I will never be able to accept that as the right thing to do.  If you find the game objectionable, you have every right not to buy it.  But you have no right telling me that I should be happy when the ESRB tells me what I can and can't do with my spare time.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

The system is NOT supposed to work this way.  People are supposed to have the right to freedom of expression in this country, and we are supposed to have access to a FREE market, not a tightly controlled one.

Actually there is no written guideline stating that retail stores can not carry AO titles, they have all chosen not to carry them, which is their right, to force them to carry AO titles would be how the system is NOT supposed to work

A ban - even one imposed by distributors - is evidence that US freedoms mean very little when powerful unelected bodies hold sway over parts of our lives.

It's not imposed by the distributers, it's imposed by the retailers, if you owned a retail store you could stock these games if you so wished.

What's next?  Are we going to ban all books and movies that include rape scenes?

There is a distinct difference between including a rape scene, and basing the entire plot around raping people in graphic detail.  In the exact same way that there is a distinct difference between a sex scene in a hollywood movie, and a porno.

I play games where many people are murdered - that seems to be permitted by the ESRB - why is pixellated rape worse than pixellated mass murder?

Because the ESRB rating things for the American society, and that society has deemed that sex crimes are worse then murder, they did not create the standard, they are just upholding it

But you have no right telling me that I should be happy when the ESRB tells me what I can and can't do with my spare time.

All that the ESRB would do in this hypothetical situation is rate the game AO, thats it, are you trying to claim that the game does not deserve an AO rating? The game would not be banned, it would be rated, and any retailer that wanted to stock the game could. GP uses the term de-facto ban, because the game is simply not marketable, and would likely never sell enough copies to turn a profit.  they would make more money without sending it to the ESRB and simply selling the title online without the rating

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

"The system is NOT supposed to work this way."

I'm not so sure that's true. Don't forget that the only reason the ESRB exists is that the government effectively said "regulate or be regulated", and the game industry responded by adopting the ESRB's rating system. The government got exactly what it wanted, while the game industry remained free to imagine itself the master of its own fate.

Not that it ought to work that way, but it often does. Getting an AO rating is a death knell for any game trying to make it into anything other than a niche market.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

Freedom in the US has always been at the whim of 'what will get me elected' rather then 'what does the consitution actually say'.  This is why so many of our freedoms come from appointed judges rather then legislatures.   They generally worry less about reelection and thus are free to actually enforce freedom rather then bend to feel-good restrictions that sell well to people not effected by them.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

 But is it really a ban if it was never meant to be sold here in the first place?

If I make something that's not meant to be sold anywhere else besides where I live, and then it's somehow sold anywhere besides there, what then? Rapelay was never meant to be sold outside Japan to begin with. Heck, even the game itself won't run on non-Japanese computers [granted that can be easily bypassed if you know where to look]. Can you say that the developers were already censoring themselves by limiting which type of computers can run the game? What does that say about the developer themselves?

I know censorship is an issue, but sometimes I feel like people are trying to make this into some sort of freedom of speech argument, which as we all know doesn't exactly apply as well to other countries due to different laws and such. Do we even know Japan's laws on this to begin with? Does the British Parilment even have that kind of power? What would really happen if they tried to sell this game in the US?

Also, I do find it a bit ironic that people are blaming other countries for controlling what the other one does and yet some are applying the US laws to other countries without them really realizing it.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

It's not ENTIRELY an out-right ban, per se. Adult stores could still carry it, porno sites could have it for download, just like any other X-rated material. Yes, that still constitutes a flop, but not a ban.

This is what I don't have a problem with. AO games being sold at specialty places, but still on the market. We have the right to buy & play, even if we have to go through more channels to do so.

And yes, I'll say it again. Rapelay isn't going to influence anyone to become a rapist. It is JUST a game.

It's still sickning. I hate it.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

Only hitch is such games could never advertise, or even show at E3, which would hamper the market, but no saying advertizing on the internet or word of mouth doesn't work.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

Why wouldn't it be able to advertise? sure it couldn't show anything explicit, but AO games could advertise they would just have to follow the proper guidelines, if phone sex lines and vibraters can advertise on TV why wouldn't an AO rated game be able to? Plus placing adds in adult magazines would be an option as well.

Also, while they probably would not be able to show at E3, that wouldn't exactly be a cost effective means for them anyway, they would likely hit a bigger audience for their product at a convention like the AVN awards in Vegas then they would at E3.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

There area crapton of games that are meant only for the Japanese market, but they get imported to the United States anyway, as there's a demand for them, and for whatever reason there is a refusal to localize them for other markets.

I mean, in Japan there is a PS2 game where you drive an ambulance in a zombie infested city rescuing survivors, and you cna outfit the ambulance with wheel blades, machine guns, and other way to let you kill off zombies. How a game liek that wouldn't be successful i nthe US is beyond me.

Now, granted Rapelay would recieve an AO, but the argument is that it's a de-facto ban, meaning even law abiding Adults can't go purchase the game at an adult media shop. There's still a market for such game,s people just still see them as children's toys.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

"Now, granted Rapelay would recieve an AO, but the argument is that it's a de-facto ban, meaning even law abiding Adults can't go purchase the game at an adult media shop. There's still a market for such game,s people just still see them as children's toys."

Thing is, that's not censorship.  That's capitalism.  There's NO financially sound reason for ANYONE to license, publish, or carry RapeLay in this country.  So, no one's telling you you can't import it from Japan and play it on your own machine (assuming it's capable).  They're saying there's no reason for companies to lose money (and take the PR hit) to make it easier for you to do that.

No one will stop you at the airport for trying to bring the game into this country.  The FBI isn't going to come knocking at your door for downloading it.  Not censorship, just capitalism.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

Just because it's not government censorship doesn't mean it isn't censorship.  The decision not to translate the game is not a financial one, not capitalism.  It is made in fear of social and political backlash from people who are not even in the intended market.  A perfect example of the chilling effect at work.

And with as little as these games cost to produce, it very well could be financially successful, even though its market would be understandably small.  The kind of company that would bring over a game like this probably wouldn't be worried about a PR hit, because the kind of people that would make it a PR problem are not potential customers anyway.  You are also ignoring the significance of the language barrier.  You wouldn't be happy to walk into a grocery store and see all the signs and labels in Swahili, and be told that there is nothing stopping you from just learning Swahili if you want those groceries.  Now, I'm not saying that anyone is obligated to translate everything into every language.  That would be absurd and mostly wasted effort, of course.  But in a case where there is probably enough demand to financially support the translation effort, and someone is interested in doing the work, and the only barrier to it being done is the fear of backlash from moral crusaders, well, that's bullshit.  In this particular case, I don't think anybody planned to translate the game anyway, but I guarantee we are going to hear more of this same argument when these activist groups discover companies like JAST.

Personally, I would never want to play this game.  But I don't want to play sports games either.  That doesn't mean I run around and try to prevent anybody else from being able to play them.  To hell with these moral crusaders who seem to think it is their duty to act as a filter for our entire society.  Freedom must include the freedom to be offensive, otherwise we simply suffer under the tyranny of the majority (or the vocal minority).  Nobody has the right to never be offended.  No such right exists.  We all should have the right to decide for ourselves if and when to be offended, and to cope with it like adults.  When someone feels so strongly about an issue that they absolutely must convince someone else to agree, it should at least be done with persuasion and understanding, not threats and coercion.

Peace.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

I'd love to know where you get your statistics.  What makes you think it would be so cheap to port this game for Western distribution?  What makes you so sure it would even break even?

Regardless, this boils down to a useless definition of censorship, again.  If any action taken for any reason results in a work or idea become less accessible to the public is considered censorship, it becomes a completely trivialized definition.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

Actually customs, if they are feeling like it, may very well stop and arrest you for bringing such a game into this country.

This also means import companies like JList might have an incentive not to carry it since they could be held criminally responsible for trafficing in obscene material.  Nasty thing to get charged with and VERY difficult to defend against.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

You know, this does sort of simplify things.  This game actually IS illegal in this country.  Why is this not the end of the issue?

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

(1) Because the illegality is questionable.

(2) The legal argument for why it is illegal are often used (so far unsucessfully) to try to ban games like GTA.

Thus it provides a useful mirror.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

But at what point does an ESRB refusal to rate a game impact the financial sellability of a game?  For all we know, RapeLay might be a financially sound investment, but the only thing stopping it from being so is the 'de facto' ban.

The point is, these de facto bans do affect a game's marketability.  That is anti-capitalist.  My whole point is that it SHOULD be left entirely to the free market, but it is not being.  The ESRB's ability to effectively minimize sales of a product by refusing to rate it is by definition anti-free-market, anti-capitalism and anti-consumer.

Heck, scandals like this usually result in a huge increase in demand for the product, yet in this case this free market force is being prevented from acting properly.  This is the worst kind of moral fascism in action - unelected groups with a moral agenda effectively preventing us from having a truly free market.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

But at what point does an ESRB refusal to rate a game impact the financial sellability of a game? 

The ESRB's ability to effectively minimize sales of a product by refusing to rate it is by definition anti-free-market

Um...I think you are confused. The ESRB Cannot and never will refuse to rate any game that is submitted for a rating. Their job is to assign ratings to the games that are submitted. Rapelay if submitted to the ESRB, would most likely recieve an AO rating. The fact is, it will recieve a rating. Whatever happens to the game with that rating after that fact, is beyond the ESRB's control.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

"But at what point does an ESRB refusal to rate a game impact the financial sellability of a game?  For all we know, RapeLay might be a financially sound investment, but the only thing stopping it from being so is the 'de facto' ban."

This is not a reasonable argument, and I think we all know it.  This game has no chance of being a commercial success in this country, and in this culture.

"This is the worst kind of moral fascism in action - unelected groups with a moral agenda effectively preventing us from having a truly free market."

HOW do you get to this conclusion?  What would you have the ESRB do?  Completely undermine itself by giving such a game an M rating so as not to "ban" it?  No, thank you.  Whatever the idiot watchdog fearmongerers may claim, the ESRB has integrity, and that's the biggest reason we, as an industry, get to self-regulate.  This isn't a matter of any kind of "moral agenda" by an "unelected group", it's a ratings board doing what it's supposed to do.

If you really want to be upset at someone for the 'de facto ban', it would most logically be the retailers who refuse to stock any AO games, or the Big Three who refuse to license AO titles for their hardware.  But again, it becomes a matter of capitalism; it's simply not financially sound for them to license these niche games and to take the PR hit that would inevitably ensue.

 

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

 It would be met with the same whatever stance that Japan does in this situation.  Huh you don't like that well ok its not illegal in our country so to friggin bad.

Re: Why Fret Over Japanese Ban? RapeLay Is Already Banned ...

 I don't even know what you're replying in response to.

 
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Papa MidnightKyle Orland's response: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/09/addressing-allegations-of-collusion-among-gaming-journalists/09/18/2014 - 12:41pm
Papa MidnightJames, I say this as a person who has managed a gaming press website before: This article is horrendous sensationalism: http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/09/17/Exposed-the-secret-mailing-list-of-the-gaming-journalism-elite09/18/2014 - 12:41pm
Krono@james I never said you did. I was responding to Andrew's statement that he'd seen a mere two articles suggesting that the term gamer was tainted, by pointing him to a list of the articles that were more or less the orgin of the idea.09/18/2014 - 12:09pm
E. Zachary KnightBut james, you replied to my tweet when I tweeted about one of those articles. That is basically the same thing as writing an editorial on GP in support of it. ;)09/18/2014 - 12:04pm
james_fudgeNot only did we not write one, we didn't cover any of them either.09/18/2014 - 11:46am
KronoThe underlying suggestion most of the articles had that gamers supporting the issue were just the young men stereotype pissed off a lot of people, and sparked the #NotYourShield tag09/18/2014 - 9:41am
Krono@andrew Just two? The whole reason #GamerGate gained real traction was that 9 op-eds including arguments to that effect dropped in 24 hours: http://markdownshare.com/view/a524affd-e679-40be-8aa1-72058065dc2a09/18/2014 - 9:38am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.gog.com/forum/general/double_fine_abandoned_spacebase_df9_development ITT: People who don't know what Early Access is.09/18/2014 - 9:32am
ZippyDSMleeFF2/4 remake now on steam.09/18/2014 - 9:13am
james_fudgeThis what they really think of us: http://www.donotlink.com/framed?54192709/18/2014 - 9:10am
ConsterAh yes, nothing quite says "I take offense to being associated with an awful few" like siding with said awful few.09/18/2014 - 9:07am
Michael ChandraSo be smart, and if you want to be part of the good guys, separate yourself from the bad guys. Don't attack those upset you won't.09/18/2014 - 6:30am
Michael ChandraMeanwhile, Gamergate is tainted and wise people already use a different tag to defend decent arguments. Keeping it up is like going #KKK while arguing about PoC.09/18/2014 - 6:30am
Michael ChandraSo while claiming to be unfairly attacked for the actions of a selected few, you unfairly attack an entire crowd for the actions of a selected few? #notagamer #butahater09/18/2014 - 6:30am
james_fudgeQuiknkold: Let me ask you- how many of those 'gamers are dead' articles did you see here? Because apparently i'm part of some vast conspiracy.09/18/2014 - 5:18am
NeenekoAh, that old straw man. That is one of the ironies about the discussion, the whole point is showing how good people can still have problems with sexism and not realize it.09/17/2014 - 9:11pm
Andrew EisenYes, there have been a handful of op-eds suggesting that the term “gamer” has become tainted (two that I know of) but that’s the opinion of only a few. I've seen an equal number from those who disagree.09/17/2014 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenExcept, you haven't provided a single example of a site that’s actually calling gamers a "collective of Sexist White Bigoted Basement Dwelling Manchildren."09/17/2014 - 8:55pm
TechnogeekIf you want to make the stereotype of gamers less painful, try calling people out when they do bad shit rather than handwave it away as "not all gamers". Even if it is a few bad apples, that'll still more than enough to spoil the barrel.09/17/2014 - 8:53pm
quiknkoldI'm not going to Sell Gamergate anymore. It can sell itself. But I will sell the integrity of the Gamer. That we are still good people, who create and donate to charitys, Who engage with those around us and just want to have a good time.09/17/2014 - 7:35pm
 

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