So, Ive been reading articles and forum posts from a number of different sites all day about the "culture of rape" that is being proliferated by the culture around which video games are created/played. Recent coverage of games such as Hitman: Absolution, And Tomb Raider seem to be taking the brunt of this criticism suggesting them as flag bearers for a movement for rape in games. Granted, I am a male. I have never been sexually assaulted personally. And, though I have had the experience through youth counseling to help others through the aftermath of such terrible events, I feel I may not see the issue as clearly as a direct victim. This being said, I find myself extremely perplexed at the sheer volume of rage and uproar these games are receiving on this topic. I feel like some people have failed to separate the sexualization of women and misogyny of marketing from rape. Though both of those issues are in dire need of some work, and I fully understand that sexualization is a component of rape, assuming that every woman who is portrayed sexily in violent games is somehow pushing the "rape agenda" forward is somewhat ludicrous in my line of thinking.
In Hitman's case, the general argument seems to be that the "Nuns" from the trailer are "sexy" and he kills them. Thus, he is showing his dominance. Thus, he is metaphorically raping them. The fact that they have guns and are fighting back is marginally mentioned. The fact that he seems to take no notice of their "sexuality" is not mentioned at all. In fact, at many points, people are equally associating the game as endorsing domestic violence as well as rape with this one scene. I feel baffled as to this reaction. I didn't particularly like the video. I didn't think it furthered the agenda of Hitman as a series, or games in general, in any way. It was dumb, goofy, and totally pandering to a group of man babies who latch on to any titillating morsel of sexuality and over the top action sequences they can glom onto. It made me disappointed in a game i was looking forward to. But, the idea that it was somehow urging me or other viewers to go out and sexually assault women, or become more tolerant of abuse was the furthest thing from my mind. I have since watched the video multiple times, and the video is so fantastical and unrealistic that I find I have a hard time imagining anyone seeing real violence against real women somehow being glamorized by it.
Tomb Raider is a different story altogether. I am aware that there is an actual scene of sexual assault being portrayed in the game. From everything Ive heard read and seen related to this game, This is the story of a young woman who is trapped in a terrible life or death situation and is forced to overcome unspeakable torments and having all the odds stacked against her. The impression I have gotten from every interview and video is that this game is supposed to be a "mature" emotional experience where you as a player are supposed to feel her go through this story in shock awe and terror and be left with a resonant emotional affinity for Lara croft as an individual by the end of the game. I have not seen the "rape" scene from the game. I can not speak to how tastefully or well done it is in providing you with a feeling of dread and anger and sorrow that such a scene is surely supposed to draw from the player. Look, I am 30 years old, and I have grown up playing games from early childhood. We all have cried out that we want games to grow with us and be taken seriously, and contain experiences suitable to our moods and situations in life just like any other type of media/art we experience. We want them to be able to make us feel something as any good form of art truly should be able to. I imagine that behind all the trappings and cliches in gaming someone behind this game truly wanted us to feel the horror of rape in a real visceral way so that we could wrap our heads around the severity of such a situation. In my mind, that concept is the polar opposite of trying to perpetuate rape. Perhaps the developers fail to make that connection. It horrifies me to think of people sitting in front of their screens elated in watching what should be a terrifying scene made less so by the blundering of the developers. But, what should our reaction be to that? Should we not place these ideas in games until someone can guarantee a true connection can be made with every player? Can such a guarantee ever be made? I don't know.
There are a lot of ignorant awful people out there who look at any chance to voice their views in an as obscene manner as possible. Between the openness of the internet, and the direct control granted to us by video games, these people become more apparent in their vocalization than they did with older forms of media that didn't grow right alongside the internet. The real question is, should we all stop really thinking for ourselves about what the true issues being presented to us are, and keep maturity out of our games until a magical time when people are more mature as a whole? I don't know.