• Valve pulls plug on publishing controversial 'Rape Day' game

    By: Deedee Sun

    Updated:

    BELLEVUE, Wash. - Bellevue-based video game company Valve pulled the unreleased game called "Rape Day" from its online platform, Steam. The game was set to launch next month, but Valve said Wednesday it won’t publish the game about raping women.

    As of Wednesday afternoon, the game is no longer viewable on Steam. But the fact that Valve took days to make the decision to pull the "Rape Day" game has some people troubled. 

    The game was available for preview on the online store Steam for about the past week.

    A third-party developer made the game.

    It's set in a zombie apocalypse where you can "verbally harass, kill people, and rape women." 

    “Shocking that in 2019, given the progress that we've made, that there is any consideration whatsoever that this is entertainment. That this would be acceptable to the general public,” said Mary Ellen Stone, who directs the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC).

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    “It (the game) normalizes really horrific behavior. We know that when we look at a lot of preconditions of people likely to harm other people, to commit sexual assault, normalized violence is part of their experience,” Stone said.  

    After days of controversy, Valve pulled the game around noon Wednesday, saying in part in a statement posted online, "After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think 'rape day' poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won't be on steam." 

    “Kudos to Valve for saying we're not going to move forward on this,” Stone said. “We are better than that,” she said

    It's not the first time Valve has come under fire over a third-party developer's game on its platform. 

    In May last year, we told you about the game "Active Shooter," which simulated a school mass shooting. Valve only pulled that after a Mercer Island mom gathered tens of thousands of signatures to get it removed. (The petition ended up gathering more than 200,000 signatures.) 

    The following month, Valve came out with a statement saying it shouldn’t be up to the company to decide what content players can or can't buy, or what content developers are allowed to create. 

    The company said, "We've decided that the right approach is to allow everything onto the steam store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling."

    It's not clear which of the two reasons brought Valve to pull the "Rape Day.”

    But KSARC is questioning the length of time it took for Valve to make that decision. 

    “It is a little dismaying that it took so long. It would seem like a pretty straightforward yes and no decision,” Stone said.

    The game's developer declined an interview with KIRO7, saying in an email he or she was getting “excessive death threats.”

    In a statement on its website, the developer defended "Rape Day” saying, “You can't reasonable [sic] consider banning rape in fiction without banning murder and torture. Murder has been normalized in fiction, while rape has yet to be normalized."

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