For at least a couple weeks, an intentionally noxious game called Rape Day, which promised players the opportunity to "verbally harass, kill, and rape women," was listed on Steam as it awaited approval to be sold on the platform. After widespread criticism of the listing earlier this week, Valve announced that it would not host the game due to the "unknown costs and risks" it posed and removed the Steam page.
According to Gamesindustry.biz, Scottish National Party MP Hannah Bardell released a statement today calling for governmental review of Steam and other platforms.
"The culture to seek forgiveness rather than permission is a stain on an industry that otherwise has the potential to be a real force for good," she said of Valve, requesting a "full review into how tech companies and gaming platforms—specifically Steam—are able to get away with this kind of stupidity."
We have to ask ourselves what kind of society we want to live in. Games like this cannot be tolerated in any society that values fairness and equality. This normalisation of rape is incompatible with a society where women and girls can live free from fear and violence.March 7, 2019
Bardell also commented on Twitter, promoting a series of tweets from Rape Crisis Scotland (above), which operates a national helpline. "If games of this kind aren’t against the law then they should be," the organization concludes.
In a video of her statement (below), Bardell says that "a game of this nature has no place in our society," adding that Valve's statement about the listing's removal was "woeful" and did not "accept or acknowledge the risk [Rape Day] could pose at a time when one in five women will experience sexual violence in their lives."
At #DCMS Q’s I raised the issue of the game ‘Rape Day’.The content of this game is utterly sickening - it’s time for the UK government to undertake a full review into development and hosting of such abhorrent content. Rape & sexual violence should never feature in ‘games’. pic.twitter.com/JMheJs1N8JMarch 7, 2019
Member of the Scottish Parliament Shona Robison joined Bardell in calling to "strengthen the legislation around this area," also according to Gamesindustry.biz.
"For any online gaming platform to allow the publishing of a so-called game, which glorifies the killing and raping of women, would be disgusting and deeply offensive," she wrote. "Therefore, I am delighted that Steam has rejected the distribution of this incredibly shocking game on their online platform."
The pornography business is new legal and ethical territory for Valve, which only approved its first explicit, uncensored game on Steam in September of last year, but this is not the first time it has been called out on ethical grounds for the content of the adult games it distributes. In a 2017 interview with PC Gamer, Mark Antoon, president of adult gaming site Nutaku, criticized Valve for allowing a depiction of non-consensual sex on Steam.
"[House Party] was given to us by the developer, we looked it over, and our compliance department failed that game," he said. "We told them we could not put it up. There was blackmail in it, and we simply said you can't have that. And so we said we couldn't accept it, and guess what, that game is up on Steam today. So a game that we don't accept is acceptable by Steam."
Valve has no specific policy which disallows games that glorify or encourage players to commit acts of sexual violence, only barring "content that violates the laws of any jurisdiction in which it will be available" and "content that exploits children in any way."
Rape Day's extreme title and description are likely what led to its removal, but other games on Steam include mentions of non-consensual sex in their content descriptors. Negligee: Love Stories, which was the first uncensored game approved by Valve last year, includes "themes relating to pressured sexual relationships." Master of the Harem Guild, which also released on Steam last year, contains "elements of dubious to non-consent" and "sex with a sleeping character."
Despite its policy, Nutaku also hosts Negligee: Love Stories, though it does not host Master of the Harem Guild.