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June 29, 2004 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Policing Virtual Reality. Wired reports on Sociolotron(NSFW). A MMORPG that allows gamers to rob, rape, and kill other players. Being a gamer, I understand that actions in an MMORPG aren't "real" but how far can you take it?

"Lord Foucault is an admitted rapist. He does it on impulse -- for the thrill of it and for the feeling of control he has over his female victims." Is this any different than running around and killing dwarves?
posted by jopreacher (50 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
What an ironic screen name to be indulging in virtual rape. Then again, maybe not

The thing is, sociolotron is set up explicitly for this type of thing, and therefore, people are going into it with the explicit knowledge of what it is all about. As far as that goes, consenting adults can pretty much do whatever they want.

As far as facilitating people to indulge in rape-fantasy, I think it is fairly dangerous. How much would it take someone who is indulging in virtual rape (etc.) on a regular basis to cary that behavior into the real world?
posted by Quartermass at 12:58 PM on June 29, 2004


Rape isn't as bad as murder, and last time I checked computer games featured a lot of that...
posted by Pretty_Generic at 1:08 PM on June 29, 2004


Quartermass: Absolutely! Just like the 20 million copies of GTA 3 out there produced 20 million maniacal car-jacking mass murderers!

Sorry for the snark, but while there's some evidence around the whole games influencing behavior (mostly research related to kids and more aggressive behavior), there isn't anything supporting your idea. You could just as easily come to the exact opposite conclusion (it's a release which lessens their desire to do it for real).

In any case, I'm going to go with "stupid marketing gimmick" for this one. Obviously not too stupid to work though. There are a surprising number of "adult" MMO games out there though, I really have trouble seeing the attraction.
posted by malphigian at 1:11 PM on June 29, 2004


Obligatory comment about video games as inspiration for unacceptable behavior versus harmless outlet for innate destructive impulses.
posted by scarabic at 1:15 PM on June 29, 2004


I think there's something a little different between slashing off an Orc's head or whatever and being unwillingly penetrated, even if its just pixels. I'm not one to equate virtual behavior as a gateway into RL behavior, but c'mon, should there be any mores on stuff like this?

Personally I think its kind of fucked up -- just because you can do a thing doesn't necessarily mean its a good idea. I mean do you really want to say "I'm a rapist, but its okay because I'm only a virtual rapist?"
posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:16 PM on June 29, 2004


Yes.

No victim no crime.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 1:23 PM on June 29, 2004


I guess the reason I posted this is because I find it interesting that all the murder and beating is OK and we laugh at the idea that it causes people to go out and murder others, but when we start talking about rape, it somehow changes things.

Even my own raw feelings on this are suspect. (maybe its a girl thing)

The only thing I can figure is that for most games, the killing IS the game. In this game, the rape is not the game, it is just something you CAN do if you choose.

What would happen if there was a game where the point of the game was to go rape as many people as possible? Would we revolt and bellow and cry "oh the humanity?" All the while running around killing in "Americas Army?"
posted by jopreacher at 1:51 PM on June 29, 2004


I understand that there has been a lot of research on violence and video games: I am not interested in that. How much research has there been done on sexualized violence in videogames? None?

"Cartoon" violence is somewhat acceptable (and very much normalized) in our society, hence the fact that GTA 3 doesn't produce "20 million maniacal car-jacking mass murderers." I am not as convinced that rape-fantasy indulgence is as benign.
posted by Quartermass at 1:59 PM on June 29, 2004


Trying to prevent people doing this for pretend will merely encourage them to do it for real.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 2:05 PM on June 29, 2004


Jopreacher: I think its because violence in videogames until fairly recently was of the "its OK to kill" variety: killing aliens, shooting enemy combatants, wild west shootouts -- taking down clear-cut bad guys. In some situations we'd give people medals for that.

Rape has never been heroic under any circumstances.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:06 PM on June 29, 2004


I have a feeling that "Lord Foucault's" real-life counterpart probably is too shy and too fat to catch and assault a woman in real life.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:17 PM on June 29, 2004


I have a feeling the "Lord Foucault's" real-life counterpart is probably sitting in his reclining leather seat laughing at all the reactions his actions are getting.
posted by knapah at 2:24 PM on June 29, 2004


How much would it take someone who is indulging in virtual rape (etc.) on a regular basis to cary that behavior into the real world?

Hmmm, game playing computer nerd stalks attractive (in shape) female, and gets his ass beat down because of it. Darwin in action!

Rape has never been heroic under any circumstances.

No, it hasn't (except in war, perhaps) but rape fantasy has been out there in a variety of media and suggestion for a lot longer than video games. What is to suggest that this is any worse than half the anime coming out of Japan? Or for that matter, the forceful taking of the heroin by the bold, broad-chested Fabio wannabe in any bodice ripper written in the last 20 years? Fantasy is fantasy. Pretending it doesn't happen, or shouldn't happen, doesn't make it go away. It's the ones who act that are the flippen problem, regardless of a video game.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:46 PM on June 29, 2004


the forceful taking of the heroin

Just say no to drugs, Fabio.
posted by konolia at 2:59 PM on June 29, 2004


konolia, don't fuss with me on this ... really
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:12 PM on June 29, 2004


No, it hasn't (except in war, perhaps)

???
posted by thirteen at 3:14 PM on June 29, 2004


Trying to prevent people doing this for pretend will merely encourage them to do it for real.

Claptrap. Were this true, America's Army would be turning off recruits by the hundreds.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:35 PM on June 29, 2004


I'm sure we've had the conversation before, but what the heh. I've linked to it before, but I think it's funny, so I'll link to it again.

"If Pacman had affected us as kids we'd be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive music.
posted by seanyboy at 3:43 PM on June 29, 2004


There's talk of consequences in the game (sexual diseases, rapists being raped, punishments for being caught). That in itself is interesting. I'd like to see how this pans out. The cynic in me know's that it'll end up being inhabited by no-one but perverts and sociopaths, but I still think it's interesting.

As a supplementary article, this wired article talks about how the game designers are incorporating drug use into MMPRPGs. To quote ...

According to Andy Tepper, the game's lead designer, 18 players' characters have died from addiction to Speed of the Serpent, more than from any other cause in the game's history.
posted by seanyboy at 3:52 PM on June 29, 2004


Man, beta testers have to pay for the privilege of finding bugs in their software. That's bullshit.

And they don't even take VISA.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:57 PM on June 29, 2004


"If Pacman had affected us as kids we'd be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive music."

Well, how else would you explain a rave?
posted by thecaddy at 4:29 PM on June 29, 2004


On the upside, women everywhere get another first date small talk question that will allow us to weed out the freaks more efficiently.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 4:30 PM on June 29, 2004


This reminded me of A Rape in Cyberspace linked here a while back.
posted by john at 4:38 PM on June 29, 2004


Ever heard of Custer's Revenge? Video games where rape is the object have been around for a looooong time...
posted by web-goddess at 4:44 PM on June 29, 2004


Well, I tried Sociolotron. It's probably the worst game I've ever played. Everything reeks of laziness. Even the movement system doesn't work; no beta should be this ropey.
Trust Wired to blow this rubbish out of proportion.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:33 PM on June 29, 2004


See Julian Dibbel's classic Village Voice article A Rape in Cyberspace.
posted by abcde at 6:22 PM on June 29, 2004


Ergh, john beat me.
posted by abcde at 6:23 PM on June 29, 2004


Wow, not only that but it was cited in the article.

*cowers*
posted by abcde at 6:24 PM on June 29, 2004


Well, I didn't read the wired article either. ;)
posted by john at 6:33 PM on June 29, 2004


You could just as easily come to the exact opposite conclusion (it's a release which lessens their desire to do it for real).

How does the Holly Jones story fit into this conclusion? The following quote is particularly damning:
In his confession to police, Mr. Briere said he was surprised by how easy it was to access child pornography. ...

“I don't know how it is for other people, but for myself, I would say that, yes, viewing the material does motivate you to do other things ... the more I saw it, the more I long for it in my heart.”
It's only a single instance, sure, but it doesn't bode well for the "harmless fantasy" school of thought...
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:04 PM on June 29, 2004


Well, how else would you explain a rave?

Boy, nothing gets past you. ;)

Whether this "game" is right or wrong or neither.... whether it causes people to act out in real life or not, doesn't matter (it does, but... ). That fact that we're having a conversation about such revolting SHIT, trying to justify its existance or not is just fucking sad and depressing.

Although, it would be cool if you could rape infants and toddlers. No? The more depravity the better. Ooooh, what it you could upload images of the faces of real people, THEN RAPE 'EM ! Awesome. Haven't you alway wanted to fuck that chick from sales? Take a screenshot and send it to her in an e-card. Harmless.

I wish someone would DOS these vile sick motherfuckers.
posted by Witty at 7:10 PM on June 29, 2004


It's only a single instance, sure, but it doesn't bode well for the "harmless fantasy" school of thought...

Except that the guy had a vested interest in suggeting that porno killed that girl rather than himself. Also, he didn't seem to have looked at child/snuff pornography. He figured the killing part on his own, so he probably needed no inspiration from porn, anyway.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:14 PM on June 29, 2004


from a usenet post to one of the pc gaming groups from ages ago:

> I think gamers want something more interesting than Grand Theft Auto.
> These games that are called crime games are boring. Doesn't everybody
> want a detailed game with the ability for different scenarios? Be a
> crime boss or a vicious serial killer.
>
> And these are games, so why not give options to do specific things to
> people, have graphic sex with a hooker, or rape her then cut her head
> off. Rape her after she is dead. Do the same thing to a nun. Pick
> specific people and kidnap them and kill them in various ways. Give
> players the option to leave hints for the police like the Zodiac
> killer or just be careful and try to evade them and see how big a body
> count one can manage.
>
> Let players be able to set fires to orphanges or bomb hospitals. To
> be in different roles. Be a politician who on the one hand is a big
> right-wing christian type and has a dark side as a violent murderer.
> It might be cool to have control of the cops too, maybe setup the
> killer in a specific way and let the game control his actions while
> the player tries to catch him. Let the cops be good, dirty, or worse
> than the criminals.
>
> Let a player catch a hand-crafted serial killer and then torture him
> to death in a jail cell. Any such games or even close? It would also
> be interesting if you could insert real people into these games with a
> picture - make your victim that girl that just dumped you or make some
> mugging/murder victim your cousin mitch that owes you fifty bucks.
>
> Why not? Any other ideas?

Now that's my kinda game!
posted by bargle at 7:58 PM on June 29, 2004


sad
posted by Witty at 8:04 PM on June 29, 2004


the forceful taking of the heroin

Just say no to drugs, Fabio.
posted by konolia at 4:59 PM CST on June 29

konolia, don't fuss with me on this ... really
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:12 PM CST on June 29


I think you missed it Wulf.

The word you were looking for is heroine.

It was a good rib-poke by konolia, and witty. Nothing to get so pissy over, and certainly nothing deserving such stern, serious admonishments.

Besides, maybe the forcibly taken heroine can be made to forcibly take heroin and then all the bases are covered.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:36 PM on June 29, 2004


whether it causes people to act out in real life or not, doesn't matter (it does, but... ).


no it doesn't.
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:08 PM on June 29, 2004


I say we ban the bible first. You know in there they kill babies to punish adults (2 samuel 12:14-18)?

Get real. Get rid of the seriously offensive stuff, like the bible, first. It includes graphic descriptions of honour rape (Ezekiel 23:1-49), amongst other things, like premeditated mass murder of babies (Exodus 11:5) and killing people because they're gay (Leviticus 20:13), as serious solutions to problems.

Then you can complain about some tame little game such as this, where doing illegal things has at least *some* ramifications. This ain't NOTHIN' compared to the bible. There, you do clearly immoral things, like honour rape, mass murder, or killing gays, and you are rewarded for your efforts with rewards supposedly better than any of us has ever experienced, or hopefully, ever will.

Or, perhaps we should just let this all drop, instead?

Offensive. Good Lord.

(pun intended)
posted by shepd at 9:38 PM on June 29, 2004


A quote I saved from another Village Voice article sums it up for me: "Through online chat, people test out their most secret impulses. The segmentation of rooms and sites allows them to find one another like rapists in a prison. Just as playing Dungeons & Dragons doesn't turn a kid into a wizard, pretending to be a homicidal maniac online doesn't make a man a killer. But determining what it does make him is one of the biggest ethical dilemmas facing modern society."

I think there's probably a pretty suprising number of ordinary people who would be capable of extraordinary cruelty if it weren't for the consequences built into modern society. (Think: Lord of the Flies) As far as I can tell, war crimes are a cross-cultural phenomenon. Violence lies deep in the heart of man. So does empathy.

Anyhoo, even if the stats pan out, the video game violence debate is always going to be clouded by an insolvable correlation vs. causation problem.
posted by Skwirl at 10:09 PM on June 29, 2004


I like to watch.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:26 PM on June 29, 2004


What is to suggest that this is any worse than half the anime coming out of Japan?

It's not really, nor will these sorts of games have a wider audience. I doubt we'll be seeing hordes of virtual rapists ravaging cyberspace any time soon. I personally think it's a stupid concept that tries (and will fail) to capitalize on shock value.

My problem is making sure this sort of crap is kept away from kids. Everyone knows porn is for adults, but there are many a stupid parent out there that have not grasped the idea that some video games are as well.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:44 PM on June 29, 2004


Read Jeffrey Deaver's The Blue Nowhere. It's fiction. It's crappy fiction. But it's on-topic, and a quick, fun, easy read.
posted by quasistoic at 12:36 AM on June 30, 2004


Fascinating. It doesn't seem to occur to anyone here that some folks might enjoy a game in which they might be raped.
posted by Goofyy at 6:13 AM on June 30, 2004


It doesn't seem to occur to anyone here that some folks might enjoy a game in which they might be raped.

Maybe because it's the game we play when we walk to our cars alone every night? Speaking for myself, it's not that fun.
posted by jessamyn at 7:17 AM on June 30, 2004


I wouldn't mind playing an MMORPG game where I might be raped, then call upon awesome high-level friends and beat the shit out of this guy at every available moment. And steal his stuff. The great thing about games is the ability to retaliate.
posted by dagnyscott at 8:22 AM on June 30, 2004


The great thing about games is that they are artificial environments (whether it's a MMOG or a hopscotch board) which we enter voluntarily, to overcome obstacles and impediments that we place between ourselves and a goal in order to have fun, or challenge ourselves in some way. Games allow us to safely explore possibilities that would be dangerous in the real world. That is, completely unlike walking alone in a dark parking lot.

Although I'm pretty sure that the rape aspect of this game is there purely to appeal to the base nature of some people, I don't think it's without merit - it may allow one to see how they'd react in a hostile situation without actually endangering themselves, and so on - although it's debatable how "real" one can make rape in a virtual world. Rape is about power, and it's extremely difficult to exercise power over someone who can just log off. Even if you were to be "caught", how much more impact would it have than someone sending you the text message, "I'm raping you!"?

That said, it looks like a cheap media stunt to me.
posted by majcher at 10:42 AM on June 30, 2004


What everyone fails to notice is that the game sucks ass.

Look at the screenshots... that's, like, isometric perspective... sometimes? And the characters are rendered IN A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE in POSER? The only people who will care are the sort of people that would be acting out their fantasies in other, less healthy ways like erotic fiction where their raped character doesn't have the option of retaliating. The raped at least have that option in this game. Even if it's a crappy, Poser-rendered, laggy sort of retaliation.
posted by kevspace at 11:33 AM on June 30, 2004


"I don't know how it is for other people, but for myself, I would say that, yes, viewing the material does motivate you to do other things ... the more I saw it, the more I long for it in my heart."

Or: it wasn't my fault; society is to blame.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:58 PM on June 30, 2004


"no it doesn't." - Keyser Soze

Of course it matters. Whether video games actually make people act out or not if certainly debatable. But to say that it doesn't matter if games result in such behavior is wrong. If someone proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, tomorrow, that video games cause 50% of players of such games to act out the fantasy in real life, then people would take note - it would definitely matter then. Again, whether it's true or not is up for debate. But the debate itself matters.

shepd - Comparing this with the bible makes no sense. One is a book, written a couple thousand years ago (or whatever) and for the most part, is a historical recounting. This is a game. A book, you read. A game, you play. Different... not comparable. But it seems like you were just trying to get a stab in against the bible, which you've done. Wheee!
posted by Witty at 3:59 PM on July 1, 2004


Probably too late for this, Witty, but what about Choose Your Own Adventure books? I read that one and immediately thought I was in a spaceship going to Altair. Then I later realized the lazy author stole the name from a computer of the same name. My reality was smashed. I spent 12 months in mental rehab because of that man.

I'm sure someone made one of those out of the Bible. Hell, it's almost one already.

>But it seems like you were just trying to get a stab in against the bible, which you've done. Wheee!

Yep. I just find it funny because the first to accuse games like this of being overly immoral are, invariably, the first to read their bible in church. Invariably. Always. Unless it's a feminist banning books. That's the exception I hadn't been able to couple to the church until I found this good book. That made it all complete!
posted by shepd at 3:49 PM on July 2, 2004


I never go to church and I've never read the bible, not one "chapter". But I know disgusting immoral depravity when I see it. If this is something you're interested in, then play the game if you must. Perv. ;)
posted by Witty at 11:04 AM on July 3, 2004


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