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February 13, 2009

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southpaw

The people you're supposed to kill in a video game, speaking quite broadly of course (I know there will be exceptions), are usually actively engaged in trying to kill you, which makes it somewhat better.

This isn't to say that random, dumbass murder of passersby isn't possible in a video game context; it is, of course, but it's generally frowned upon within the incentive structure of the game.

A very small subset of games actually encourage you to take on the persona of a sociopath, which is I think is the really disturbing feature of this game. The equivalent game in the context of non-sexual violence would have you playing the role of a notorious serial killer, and probably would provoke a huge outcry.

postalchris

Well, there is such a thing as a "justifiable homicide" whereas there is no such thing as a "justifiable rape."

PQuincy

Yes, it does appear you're slipping across categories here, though it's tricky.

Most people, as in the previous comments, are distinguishing 'murder' from 'killing'. Like it or not, most humans and most societies accept a category of acceptable killing of humans; indeed, most cultures highly value the possibility of certain kinds of killing.

At first, I was going to say that the parallel might be the distinction between 'rape' and 'sex', but that raises all sorts of problems (unless, maybe, you subscribe to the view that all sexuality is a consequence of Original Sin). After all, many feminists have argued that rape is a sexual crime of violence, not a sexual act, and there's much to recommend this view -- meaning that the simple equation:

murder:killing::rape:sex does not work.

But underlying the fine points, it does seem to be the case that there is a difference between our children fantasizing 'good deeds' that are morally problematic (killing 'bad guys'), and fantasizing deeds that are universally condemned (rape).

Henry

Nick Cave - In much the same spirit, Cave recently overhauled O'Malley's Bar for a special radio performance in Manchester, England, writing 20 new verses for the song on the train ride from London. "New things happen, new people get killed," he notes cheerfully. "I found it very easy to write."

But what if Cave had recorded an album of, say, rape ballads? Would we be so entertained by his colorful metaphors and raw dialogue? Or does Cave recognize lines of morality and propriety that even he is not prepared to cross?

"That's a difficult one, really," he concedes after a long, thoughtful pause. "On one hand, that's a very tempting record to make. On the other hand, I wouldn't make a record like that because I don't actually have those feelings. There are times when I feel I can go and murder somebody. Definitely. But I've never felt that I could rape a woman."

strasmangelo jones

murder:killing::rape:sex does not work.

Only because we have a variety of forms of state-sanctioned murder, but not any (explicitly) state-sanctioned rape. I mean, hell, contemporary American foreign policy doesn't work if you're not allowed to kill all kinds of innocent people, from a distance or up close, at will. But if you went all out and raped them? Well, that just seems a bit much, now doesn't it?

We have a similar cultural squeamishness regarding torture that we don't have for, say, bombing villages with robot drones. We've sanitized military killing in the public consciousness in a way that we can't sanitize torture and rape - or at least I hope we can't.

thomas

"There's more men that need killing than horses that need stealing"

I think it's not just cultural in the narrow sense. There is pretty wide (although not universal) acceptance of the occasional need for lethal force in self-defense or defense of others, and the conflict between this and 'Thou shalt not kill' is what makes the 'just war' concept important. It's easy in fiction to set things up so that some killing is necessary and even morally legitimate. 'Just war' is a lot more plausible than 'just rape' or 'just horse-rustling'.

What I do find worrying is that fact that large-scale killing of relatively innocent minions of the bad guys isn't as distasteful as it should be. This happens to some extent even in real life, where most people do worry about enemy civilian casualties but many don't seem to care about enemy military casualties.

Even there, views are starting to change. I think there have been attempts to retcon the Stars Wars universe so that all the dead interchangeable stormtroopers are not real people but clones whose lives are (for some reason) morally unimportant. Even Tom Clancy shows occasional signs of caring about enemy soldiers (at least if they are Japanese or Soviet ones, rather than Iranian or Chinese)

The Modesto Kid

so that all the dead interchangeable stormtroopers are not real people but clones whose lives are (for some reason) morally unimportant

Is this really a change? The message is still that you can kill all the enemies you like without being culpable, the justification is just a little more elaborate.

A Star Wars movie told from the POV of a storm trooper might be interesting. Or "The Passion of Darth".

Matt

Some of it, I think, is that we don't believe that people who play at killing are secretly, or just a bit, or maybe more, tempted by real killing. But we do think that about rape. Why is this so? Is it just because killing games and representations are more common? I'm not sure, but I think this does make a difference, no matter why it's so. When we think people playing at killing (or doing 'little' killings, like of animals) are serious it's very disturbing, too. I'd be happier, and I think the world would be better, if we played at killing less, too, since I think it does effect us, but I think it's our (not unreasonable) judgments about the type of person who would enjoy such games or stories that makes the difference to us.

The Modesto Kid

we don't believe that people who play at killing are secretly, or just a bit, or maybe more, tempted by real killing

This is a little broad. There are a lot of anti-violent-video-games crusaders who base their message on, roughly, "By playing shoot-em-up games, kids will learn that violence is fun and glamorous."

The Modesto Kid

Oh I see -- sorry Matt, I was misreading your comment.

Tomas

Well, very few games have you set as a predatory killer who murders for your own amusement. Maybe manhunt and postal or something. However this game seems to have some sort of object to which murdering is a means.

I think the fact that the object of the game is clearly arousal rather than escapism, as Matt points to, makes it . I dont know how that fits into a modern japanese cultural context, since they have somewhat odd take on such things.

Furthermore, while murder can be done for any number of more prosaic reasons, murders done for pleasure and domination is rare protagonist behavior in games. Most murdering is done for some purpose. While the gamer can choose to go on a mad killing spree, the narrative of the games seldom center around this activity. Game demanded activites rarely involve killing a fixed amount of random civilians or such. In this rapegame, the core seem to be that you are a self-indulgent rapist and the center of the narrative is that you rape young girls.

Also most games with murders in them (besides the killing of bad guys), like for instance GTA, sets the murdering in the context of a movielike narrative and such stuff that has been legitimized as protagonist behavior in movies is seen as less problematic than activites that do not have gained the same legitimacy. There is an gangster archetype or even a serial killer archetype (see silence of the lambs, hannibal, american psycho) in movies, which has been accepted as charismatic protagonist. To my knowledge there is no serial rapist archetype who has been presented as a charismatic protagonist. But, hey, maybe in japan.

Tomas

"However this game seems to have some sort of object to which murdering is a means."

Ups, should have read:

"most games seem to have some sort of objective for which murdering is a means. A game centred around rape would most likely have rape as an object and not as a means to some other end."

ajay

"A Star Wars movie told from the POV of a storm trooper might be interesting."

As long as it steered clear of the Death Star Canteen and the Austin Powers "Nobody thinks of the henchmen's families!" trick. But there are some ESW comics which have treated stormtroopers as the good guys - people who actually believe that the Empire, whatever its excesses, is at least better than chaos.

Doctor Slack

"We've sanitized military killing in the public consciousness in a way that we can't sanitize torture and rape - or at least I hope we can't."

Well... torture and rape are pretty explicitly sanctioned as features of the American prison system, and I would argue greased the skids for the Shrub's ability to publicly embrace "enhanced interrogation" -- that he did still have to say "we don't torture" was a mere formality.

Doctor Slack

(Hmmm, is this about to be a double post? Sorry if that's the case.)

"We've sanitized military killing in the public consciousness in a way that we can't sanitize torture and rape - or at least I hope we can't."

Torture and rape seem to be pretty explicitly sanctioned as features of the American prison system, and arguably greased the skids for the Shrub's embrace of "enhanced interrogation" -- that he still had to say "we don't torture" was a mere formality.

Doctor Slack

God dammit. I knew it.

Doug

A girl travels from Kansas to a faraway country and kills the first person she encounters. Then she joins with three strangers to wander the landscape before killing again.

Josh

I see Doug reads the Marin Independent-Journal.

Doug

Oh yes, thanks for the reminder on the source, which is so much punchier: "Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again."

Jackmormon

I would say that the reason role-playing rape seems so much more terrifying is that a guy is much likelier to get away with rape than with murder. "We were both drunk and I swear he wanted killin'" doesn't go over very well in a murder trial.

Gary Farber

"A Star Wars movie told from the POV of a storm trooper might be interesting."

Will Troops do? (Which I wrote about four years ago, yay, me.)

Also, the single-player campaign of Star Wars: Battlefront I and II are told from the point of view of a member of the 501st Storm Trooper Brigade.

Bryan

yes, yes but if all these things you say are true then the Gor novels of John Norman would not be the towering literary achievement of the 20th century.

Just saying.

mahesh

It must have been around '87. I'd been too ignorant up untill that year to pick up Big Black (I was very much into AC/DC and Black Flag) But when I did, i became a born-again 'noisy' immediately. The Atomizer-album was awesome and realy made a mark in the history of music and guitar-playing. However, since we tend to realize things a bit late here in the Netherlands (where I live) Big Black broke up just about the time i was discovering the greatness of the band.
--------------
mahesh
a herf="http://www.fastrealestate.net">Real Estate Search-Real Estate Search

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