Throughout human history violent forms of entertainment have existed alongside refined ones. In Ancient Rome, for example, when modern mediums of entertainment such as Television, video games, etc did not exist, gladiator fights were a popular pass-time. This prompted Saint Augustine to note that not only did people liked violence as passive spectators, but it has also induced in them a ‘fascination for blood’. Today, such violence-ridden games like gladiator fights are forbidden by law and social norms. But the ‘fascination for blood’, apparently inherent to human nature, is exploited by movie makers and video-game manufacturers. The movie titled Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe, is one example of this phenomenon; the controversial rape simulator video game produced in Japan is another key example. While the former is legally permitted and is accepted by mainstream audiences and commentators, the latter has not gained approval on both legal and ethical grounds. The game has been banned in the United States due to its perverse and obscene nature. For instance, players earn points for acts of sexual violence, including following girls (mostlty wearing highschool outfit), raping virgins and their mothers, and then forcing them to have abortions. (Moses, 2010) The public debate that the game has spurred has expanded beyond its utility, value, etc, to broader considerations such as its effect on the health of democracy. The rest of this essay will support the view that videogames such a Rape Simulator are not only hazardous for the players and the societies they inhabit, but their negative effects pervade to undermine democratic processes and institutions of a country.
According to Aristotle’s theory of Catharsis, people release their violent pulsation by seeing them portrayed by other agents/actors. This way the pent up frustration is released, which could otherwise lead to violent behavior. Applying this theory to the video-game in question, one could deduce that playing the game will reduce the actual number of incidents of rape in society, for the real is substituted by the simulated. (End Violence Against Women, 2010) But actual facts are not consistent with the theory, as proved by scholar S.Feshback. He took 625 junior high school boys and asked half of them to watch a violent television program for 6 weeks. The other half was as to watch non-violent programming. At the end of 6 weeks, when teachers evaluated the students, no difference in aggressive behavior was observed. However, there was a decline in aggression among students who were previously assessed by personality tests to be more inclined toward aggressive behavior. Considering that such students formed only a small minority, the Catharsis theory does not hold true for this case. Countering the validity of the Catharsis theory is the Aggressive Simulation theory, which states that people are inspired by what they see. Meaning that if they see violence they will reproduce it. In other words, what these video games do is to break down social barriers for those who are predisposed to such behavior. Since the maintenance of law and order is essential for the smooth functioning of democratic societies, it follows that perpetration of violent behavior (as a mirror effect of watching and simulating violent acts) will undermine democracy. (Alexander, 2009)
We live in a world were we are constantly bombarded with information, most of which encourage us to buy this or that product. The power of marketing has already been demonstrated through the century long history of our Public Relations industry. Indeed, the PR industry and the media together wield huge power over the thoughts of citizens. In such a scenario, a person with a fragile mind, meaning someone who cannot make the distinction between what is right or wrong, receives massive exposure to violence through advertisements and other marketing campaigns, it can lead to disastrous consequences. These include acts of brutality, anger, savageness, torture, sadism, etc (all of these qualities are encouraged by Rape Simulator). Hence it is imperative that such games are censored or banned from public consumption. (Haydon, 2009)
The fact that Rape Simulator encourages sexual acts with schoolgirls is a cause for concern, as it implies pedophilia. Although the game is meant for adults only, the objects of sexual desire depicted within it qualify as adolescents. The same criticism can be applied toward the sale of schoolgirl outfits in sex shops. Both of them are encouraging pedophilia and rape and inducing perversity and abuse, which are inconsistent with democratic concepts. We can no longer argue that it is it is not so bad for society, for it is just a game and it doesn’t harm anybody. In fact, based on the dangers to democracy we discussed so far, one can further argue that any video game that includes murder, war, robbery, gun shot should be therefore forbidden. (The Free Library, 2010) At least in these latter examples, one could come up with justifications. For example, one can justify robbery (to feed oneself or pay the rent to give a home to his/her children), one can justify shooting with a gun (to kill a murderer, saving lives), and one can justify war (which our government does it everyday). The rape simulator video game, on the other hand, is undermining the very integrity and foundations of democratic civil society.