Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rape in the game. Why?

Edit: a *very* crucial negation was missing!!

I listen to podcasts sometimes. Maybe I should do a post on some of the shows I like some day. There are shows I'd like to shine the light of attention on. Anyway.

I was listening to this podcast called The Walking Eye, and in that episode they had an interview with Vincent Baker. Vincent, for those of you who didn't know, is the guy who designed and published Dogs in the Vineyard. That is an awesome game that opened my mind to some new ways to game. Check it out!

One thing Vincent and the guys talking to him were spending time on, was the fact that in his game Poison'd, rape is something that by the book can happen to your character.

Now, I have heard before that this is something that is a big issue for some people. Considering that many of us started play while in our lower teens or slightly younger, it is understandable that some kids love to go wild when it's "just a game". That being said, I have never really understood how you could stomach rape in a game session. A lot anti-social behaviour takes place around game tables, and many times I just don't get it. I mean, why?

What Vincent said made me really think about this. According to his experience, rape was something that most gamers he knew had experienced. It's probably something of an understatement to say that having something like that happen to your character is quite disturbing. Personally, I find the idea that the majority of gamers having had this experience to be totally mind boggling! But, I'd say it's very sad even if it only happened once.

I was first a bit annoyed at Vincent, because when they asked him about that facet of the game, he told them his experience, and that that it was "worth having a conversation about". That was his whole explanation. I thought he was dodging the question. I mean, start having one then! But, now I'm thinking he wasn't evading anything. He put it in the game. It is there and playing the game is having that conversation! If you play the game you get to do this in an ordered fashion, and this time it is on your terms, empowering you. Maybe he is right.

If such a thing happen in a game, and you can just say "no, I'm fighting you", you will at least formalize it, and take control of it. Psychology is strange, and sometimes it is worth quite a lot to be able to contain, and empower you to handle an issue. I'm not sure of what to think of this one.

So. Why is this happening? At all? Is it really as frequent as Vincent say?
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