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Rape Day prompts call for UK government review

British MP questions how Valve is "able to get away with this kind of stupidity"

A British member of parliament has slated Steam over the recent Rape Day controversy, calling for a government review.

In a statement released today, Scottish National Party MP Hannah Bardell described it as "utterly abhorrent material", and said the government must "commit to getting around the table and sorting this issue for good."

"The content of this game is utterly perverted," she said. "It's time for the UK government to undertake a full review into how tech companies and gaming platforms -- specifically Steam -- are able to get away with this kind of stupidity,"

"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 was joined in her comments by Shona Robison, First Minister of the Scottish Parliament, who supported calls for a UK government review to "strengthen the legislation around this area."

"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," continued Robison.

"Therefore, I am delighted that Steam has rejected the distribution of this incredibly shocking game on their online platform."

Rape Day was described by developer Desk Plant as a "a game where you can rape and murder during a zombie apocalypse." Though unreleased, it was listed on Steam for over two weeks with an expected launch next month.

Valve yesterday caved to pressure and removed the title, saying its policy to such material should be "reactionary."

"We then have to make a judgement call about any risk it puts to Valve, our developer partners, or our customers," said Valve's Erik Johnson.

"After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think 'Rape Day' poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won't be on Steam."

Given that Valve is a privately-owned company based in the US, it's unclear what a British government review on this issue might look like, and what measurements might be enacted as a result.

Bardell did not respond to GamesIndustry.biz in time for publication.

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Latest comments (14)

Nicholas Lovell Founder, Gamesbrief15 days ago
Regulation is coming, isn't it. It makes me sad, because we were once able to self-regulate. But it doesnt look as if we can anymore. Lootboxes. Adtech. Kidtech. Content. We are bringing this on ourselves.
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Chris Payne Managing Director & Founder, Quantum Soup Studios15 days ago
I am Jack's complete lack of surprise. Valve seem exceptionally shortsighted about hosting content that will obviously bring the company into disrepute. It's frustrating because horrible outliers like this thing making the news continues to perpetuate the idea that all video games are amoral power fantasies. We've still got a lot to prove before the mass media will judge a game like this without judging the medium as a whole...
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Jak Marshall Data Analyst, Electric Square15 days ago
Zero responsibility policy is easy and it's cheap, until a really bad apple story like this gets traction.

If the Rape Day example isn't the 'Battlefront' of this issue, it's only a matter of time until something else is.

Zero responsibility policy always runs on borrowed time!
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Show all comments (14)
colin merrick Engineer/Artist 15 days ago
I agree with the issue with this particular game but it’s interesting that we are happy to allow games that allow the glorification of killing and murder... Fortnite for example.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 15 days ago
Future historians tell me that the no-deal Brexit came about because Parliament spent too much time talking about video games. As a result, Parliament put forth a motion to ban all videogames, which was passed after having been amended to ban all avocado rice krispies instead.
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 15 days ago
@Klaus Preisinger: This is totally unrealistic.

It would have a ban on all avocado rice krispies and a 10% pay rise for MPs.
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Graeme Foote Lead Writer, Lupiesoft15 days ago
It was always going to happen that Valve's laissez faire attitude to actually policing its own content would attract the attention of politicians and calls for regulation since Valve clearly don't do self-regulation of any kind. As for how any sort of review would affect Valve selling games in the UK, presumably similar to how Steam in China is affected by China's laws (I admit I don't have a full grasp of the detail there.)

As an aside, Shona Robison is the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport in the Scottish Government, not the First Minister. I know this is game industry focussed website but some basic googling of names before publishing might be a good idea.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Graeme Foote on 8th March 2019 12:50am

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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 15 days ago
There are a whole bunch of things to think about here - gonna go dig through my Big Black Folder to check I'm remembering stuff straight, and make a big rambling post tomorrow.
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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 14 days ago
This is how Valve works. They put the least possible effort and money into anything they do, because they know they have the PC industry in a corner. While Epic may hurt them, Valve just sits back and leeches

We’re talking about a $4+ billion company who needed a court order to provide phone support, which they now do only in the sphere of said court order

We’re talking about a company that has yet to produce Half Life 3, or Portal 3, despite huge demand

We’re talking about a company that wanted to get into the console business, but not do all that hard stuff actually required to do so, and let their hardware partners take a bath, because no one apparently learned from 3DO

So the fact that they don’t care what’s on the store, and don’t do anything about it until the howls start shouldn’t really come as a surprise
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Lewis Pulsipher Game Designer, Author, Teacher 14 days ago
While I don't condone such games, in the USA we try to avoid censorship, which is exactly what this MP is calling for.
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Micaela Mantegna Abogamer. Interactive Media lawyer and scholar 14 days ago
@Nicholas Lovell: Agreed. Video games industry is not being overlooked as child's play anymore, but seen for regulators as the multi-million dollar maker machine that it is. If industry doesn´t regulate itself wisely, it invites governmental action, fuelled by the eagerness of taxation. We have seen it with loot boxes (Star Wars Battlefront II), advertisement (No Man´s Sky) and violence (the bans from Carmageddon and the like), for every outlier that screws things up, industry suffers as a whole and regulators come knocking the doors. Content is the next frontier, and with the European Copyright reform looming, streaming related industries are going to have a rough time.
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Anthony Gowland Director, Ant Workshop14 days ago
in the USA we try to avoid censorship
How many AO games does your local Walmart stock, out of interest?
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Michael Harrell Studying CS, University of Utah14 days ago
@Anthony Gowland: That's the policy of Walmart, not a requirement by the US government.
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Albert Frank Studying Cybersecurity, Tallinn University ofTechnology11 days ago
it's true that this industry asks more often forgiveness than permission....but who's fault is it?
Terrorism, violence, sex, drugs even rape are widely available in modern entertainment, both online and on cable. Why is it a problem suddenly when it comes to videogame? because they are more compelling? Many studies have been made on this issue and it has never been demonstrated that videogames are mind-shaping more than other media; why this complaint comes for rape day and not for game of thrones? or ''meat holes'' videos, those are available too for kids.
This kind of ''outrage'' serves only to make someone feel better about themselves and put the blame on those who show the symptoms caused by a very sick social system, for which many (not everyone but certainly not few) have to be blamed for.
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