Valve Under Fire Over A Game That Glorifies Rape

Rape Day Valve

Image Source: Rape Day (screenshot)

Valve and Steam have been in the limelight since last year over the type of content allowed on the platform. Now, the largest distributor of the PC games in under fire again over another objectionable game, called Rape Day.

Rape Day developer defends the game

This game, as the name suggests, is a visual novel in which the player “controls the choices of a menacing serial killer rapist during a zombie apocalypse.” Moreover, the description of the game on Steam says, the game let players “Verbally harass, kill, and rape women as you choose to progress the story.”

Defending the underlying theme of the game, Rape Day’s creator writes on the game’s website, “Murder has been normalized in fiction, while rape has yet to be normalized.” Additionally, the website also includes reference to six academic studies and articles that negate any connection between the content in a video game and the violence in real-life.

Even on Rape Day’s Steam page, the creator defends the game, saying “Despite what people are saying in the discussion, the game is marked as adult.” Also, the game carries needed descriptions on the “potentially offensive content.”

Further, the creator says the game is for a “niche” audience, adding that about 4% of the general population is sociopaths “and the type of people that would be entertained by a story like this is not even limited to pure sociopaths.”

The anonymous Rape Day creator said that they spent about two years in developing this half hour long game.

What will Valve do?

Despite the defenses from the developer, voices calling for the game to be removed are growing louder. However, it is not clear if the game violates Valve’s policy.

Valve’s current policy only blocks the games that it believes are illegal or are “trolling.” Though it is not very clear what Valve exactly means by “trolling,” the company did refer to it when it removed the game Active Shooter. At the time, Valve said that the game, which simulated school shootings, can lead to outrage and conflict. Moreover, Valve accused the game developers of copyright violations and misrepresentations.

It is not known if Rape Day falls under “trolling.” The developer, however, says that they removed a “baby killing scene” to meet Steam’s seven guidelines for a game that are mostly related to the legality clause.

Now, it is up to Valve to decide the fate of the game. Whatever decision Valve takes will go on to define its approach toward the games that can be published on Steam. The options that Valve has – remove the game citing any of its ambiguous rules, or allow the game to indicate that content that “verbally harass, kill, and rape women” are acceptable under Steam’s current policies.

Changing content policies

As of now, there is no comment from Valve on the matter. The Rape Day developer, on the other hand, is aware of the controversy brewing because of the game. The developer, however, appears confident that the game does not break any rules and hence, can’t be banned by Steam unless it changes its policies.  

The game is not out yet. It is marked as an “adult only” title, meaning you won’t be able to view it unless you have logged into Steam and have enabled access to such games. The game was listed on Steam several weeks back and its estimated release date is in April 2019.

For now, Steam hosts several images of the game, suggesting Valve is at least okay with the images. Valve’s developer guidelines say that a store page can’t go live unless it passes through a “brief review process.” However, it is not clear if reviewing content is also part of this process.

Valve’s content polices have undergone several changes over the past few years. In 2012, Valve came up with a user-voting system called Steam Greenlight. But, in 2017, the program was ended after Valve co-founder Gabe Newell referred to Greenlight as “bad” for the Steam Community.

Valve replaced Greenlight with Steam Direct, which allowed anyone to submit a game to the platform. Though it became easier to release the game on Steam, the company still blocked pornography. However, last year, Valve removed almost all content restrictions, saying it has no right to decide “what content you can or can’t buy.”



About the Author

Aman Jain
Aman is MBA (Finance) with an experience on both Marketing and Finance side. He has worked as a Risk Analyst for AIR Worldwide, and is currently leading VeRa FinServ, a Financial Research firm. Favorite pastimes include watching science fiction movies, reviewing tech gadgets, playing PC games and cricket. - Email him at amanjain@valuewalk.com