While video games have often been a focus of controversy — usually for realistic depictions and portrayals of violence, or the occasional manipulative implementation of microtransactions — some video games come under fire for their inclusion of sexual and graphic imagery. While western social norms are typically more accepting of violence in media, the same can’t be said for sexually suggestive or explicit content.
The boundaries and limits to which the medium of video games are being pushed has come to the forefront with an upcoming — and needless to say, controversial — game, which puts rape front and center.
As reported by Variety, Rape Day, an unreleased game from independent developer Desk Plant, has been banned from release on Steam, the most popular digital storefront for PC games. Valve, the publishing giant that owns Steam, recently came to a decision to ban the game from being released, due to its graphic and controversial depictions of violence and rape.
Up until this point, Rape Day was never available for purchase on Steam. The game, which is still being worked on, was set to release sometime in April, and while Steam users were able to add the game to their wishlist, they were unable to pre-purchase or pre-order the game.
Controversial ‘Rape Day’ Game Won’t Ship on Steam https://t.co/O6yf73cVP5
— Variety (@Variety) March 6, 2019
As detailed by Polygon, Valve released a statement regarding this decision, which doesn’t shed any light on why they decided to ban the game, with respect to any violations of their rules, terms of service, or content policies.
“Over the past week you may have heard about a game called Rape Day coming soon to Steam. Today we’ve decided not to distribute this game on Steam,” Valve explained.
“Much of our policy around what we distribute is, and must be, reactionary—we simply have to wait and see what comes to us via Steam Direct. We then have to make a judgement call about any risk it puts to Valve, our developer partners, or our customers. After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think ‘Rape Day’ poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won’t be on Steam.”
As noted by Nathan Grayson of Kotaku, Valve’s decision to not allow Rape Day to be sold on their platform is another instance of the company’s ongoing struggle to take a specific stance on games which feature sexual elements. While violent video games continue to be released on the platform, Valve has removed a handful of adult-themed visual novels which feature young-looking characters, per a 2018 article from Kotaku.