The Latest Steam Game To Test Valve's Laissez-Faire Policy Is Called 'Rape Day'

Screenshot: Desk Lamp, Steam

An independent developer called Desk Lamp says it has spent over two years working on a game called Rape Day. Now it’s waiting for approval from Valve to sell it on Steam.

Rape Day is a game where you can rape and murder during a zombie apocalypse,” reads its description on Steam. I’m not exaggerating when I say that looking through the screenshots for it made me physically ill. While the game, which seems to be structured like a visual novel, focuses on applying the choose-your-own-adventure formula to simulated rape, it almost seems designed to test just how far Valve is willing to go in its promise to keep Steam open and unrestricted.

“At some point in the future, game historians will look back on visual novels such as ‘rape day’ as game historians look back on games such as “grand theft auto” now or even the first time nudity was shown on television,” writes the developer in an FAQ section on the game’s website.

The very first update on the game’s Steam announcement page is from February 19 and titled “Controversy.”

In it, Desk Lamp calls Rape Day a “niche” game that’s not for everyone. “4% of the general population are sociopaths and the type of people that would be entertained by a story like this is not even limited to pure sociopaths,” it wrote.

In a post from a few days later, the developer tried to differentiate Rape Day from Active Shooter, a school shooting simulator Valve ultimately removed from Steam last May for constituting “straight up trolling,” one of the two reasons a game might get taken down according to a policy laid out by the company a week later.

The other reason is illegal content. Desk Lamp claims Rape Day falls into neither category.

Yesterday, the developer announced the game was in the middle of being reviewed by Valve. Neither Valve nor Desk Lamp responded to a request for comment.

Screenshot: Desk Lamp, Steam

Last year, Valve ended up banning some games from Steam for containing elements of “child exploitation”—mostly young-looking characters in animated sex games. It also removed over 100 porn game with titles like Big Dick and 69, which it deemed to have violated its decree against “trolling,” in October. While the rule against games containing illegal content is pretty clear-cut, the trolling criterion has provided the company with a lot of subjective wiggle room.

In a September blog post, the company described its process for determining when a game is trolling as a “deep assessment” beginning with the developer’s history, past associations, banking information, and other biographical details.

It sounded an awful lot like Valve’s equivalent to the Supreme Court’s “I know it when I see it” test for deciding what counts as obscenity.

“We get as much context around the creation and creator of the game and then make an assessment,” the company wrote. “A trend we’re seeing is that we often ban these people from Steam altogether instead of cherry-picking through their individual game submissions. In the words of someone here in the office: ‘it really does seem like bad games are made by bad people.’”

The resulting policy on regulating Steam’s content has been heavily criticised for being both too hands-off and also opaque. In the past, developers have reported having their sexually-explicit games wait in limbo while Valve reviewed them, sometimes without any clear indication as to what they could do to alter and re-submit their game in order to get it approved for sale.

The “straight-up trolling” criteria also has a flattening effect, combining different types of mature content under the same heading. The warning before accessing Rape Day’s Steam discussion page is one example.

“Content posted in this community may contain Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Violence, or Gore,” it reads. The fact that Steam doesn’t have a unique tag for sexual violence, or in this case failed to deploy it, offers a small glimpse into why the platforms existing approach to curating content is so inadequate.


Comments

    Hopefully it gets the flick, ignoring the iffy themes, it just looks like a trash vn, which Steam has more than enough of.

    I would really love to see the filter system let me remove rpg maker and visual novel games. They are a never ending stream of trash over populating the store front.

      That system has been in effect for some time now. From the Steam website, hit the drop-down under your username, choose "Preferences", scroll down to "Tags to Exclude". I have RPG Maker, Visual Novel, Early Access and Sports.

      I feel like a small percentage of why I don't play games on my PC as much as I used to is that Steam is just loaded with garbage and I can't be fucked navigating the trashpile.

        I don't use Steam to find new games for that reason - it still suggests trash even if I run through the queue of titles.

        Also there's a load of garbage released and I just don't have time to waste on games I might not like.

    There are hundreds of sex games out there, many of which feature rape. The fact that this one is trying to get itself on Steam and the developers made a statement comparing it to GTA as a way to try and normalize and absolve its content leads me to believe the developers care more about baiting and triggering the Left than releasing a game with niche appeal.

    There are many aveneues out there for porn games to be released to the public, and if their intentions were pure they'd use those options instead of trying to make a big deal about being released on Steam. It's like trying to get JB to sell your porno instead of Club X.

      It kinda reminds me of that Hatred game that seemed more about trying to be edgy and controversial than anything else. \

    Basically the developers are desperate for attention. They’ve named it something provocative with a trigger word right there in the title.
    Their statement is pretty much trolling.
    Nothing to see here.

    I'm sure the developer of a game made to be provocative is loving the exposure from kotaku and polygon.

    If noone reported on this it probably would not have sold more than a few units.

    Makes Mortal Kombat look like a primary school scuffle..no thanks I will pass on this one (again)!!

    This game is obvious bait. And polygon and Kotaku have fallen for it.

      Eh, heaps of sites have reported on it, and of course they will. This gets clicks.

      not just poly and kataku, but PC gamer as well. this is just going to be another hatred

      If pressure from a public made aware of this convinces Valve to remove the game, wouldn't a good thing have been achieved? Sometimes, the only thing that silence and inaction achieve is to allow things that shouldn't exist to do, totally unchallenged.

        No.

        Because it won't change a thing.

        Valve will never curate stuff. At best they might take it off the store to placate these journos who will forget about it after a few days after pretending they achieved something when they really didn't. And the dev of this game will be loving the free advertising he has gotten.

          First off, wow, that's quite pessimistic.

          Second, letting pessimism serve as an excuse not to do anything and just let something vile persist is reproachable. It's an attitude that time after time has impeded or slowed necessary social change. There seems to always be some people who are more disgusted by outrage itself than by whatever bad things justifiably generated the outrage.

          Third, while it's true that Valve is unlike to consistently curate or police this kind of stuff, there's precedent for them removing particular offenders. I don't understand why you think that's not an achievement? Being removed from the biggest and most popular marketplace in the industry will definitely will the developers even if the whole hullabaloo got them a handful of direct purchases from perverts and edgelords who would have eventually found out about the game in 4chan or wherever else, anyway.

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    I wish someone had the balls to make a game like manhunt but not into these cheap enovel crap

    They should just knock the game back and feel good, knowing that they caused that dickhead creep to waste two years of his life. Maybe pass his personal details on to the local authorities too for good measure.

      Waste?

      This moral outrage is the best free advertising for an indie video game. Steam is not the only platform on which you can distribute indie games.

      Maybe pass his personal details on to the local authorities too for good measure.
      So i assume you are also demanding George R.R. Martin be arrested? Game of Thrones contains rape. You wouldn't be a hypocrite, would you?

        Martin didn't call his books "Rape Dragons".
        Try again.

          Nope. They still contain rape. You lot sure are selective with your outrage when it suits you.

          Fuck that would be amazing LOL. So would it be that the dragons get sodomized? Or the humans?

            Humans tend to be the villains in his books, so likely the subjugation of the dragons until they finally grow powerful enough to fight back.

    Whoah! watch those edges people.

    Haven't seen a game with edges this sharp since HATRED

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