I’m lost for words right now, ladies and gentlemen. You know me: that’s rare.
So, let’s start where all of this insanity actually starts: Valve being indecisive and unprofessional. Last year, Valve began to remove certain visual novels from the platform at apparent random. This went on for months, with the response to Valve’s action varying between reasonable and…well…the idiots who came up with “Waifu Holocaust”. I fell more on the sidelines, admittedly. Valve has the absolute right to decide what vendors they allow to sell on their platform. No one is owed access to Steam: period. HOWEVER, VALVE has the responsibility to be clear in their standards and practices and try to avoid as much confusion as possible. This goes both ways and Valve has repeatedly, idiotically, refused to accept its responsibilities.
If you want a reminder, you can read through my commentary on Steam and the various reports and analyses here. I urge you to do so: especially if my repeated calls for developers to start expanding beyond Steam has confused some. Now, after it was all said and done, I thought Steam was going to get bad but mine, and others, hands were essentially tied with the platform. The system described by them as a response the inquires and issues with not only visual novel, but substandard to outright broken games they’ve allowed onto the platform over the years. They supposedly engaged different algorithms and put in place an approval system for developers that, well, I’ll let them explain it:
So if you don’t want to see anime games on your Store, you’ll be able to make that choice. If you want more options to control exactly what kinds of games your kids see when they browse the Store, you’ll be able to do that. And it’s not just players that need better tools either – developers who build controversial content shouldn’t have to deal with harassment because their game exists, and we’ll be building tools and options to support them too.
Everyone…keep the bold part in mind.
Today, I was messaged by the one and only HusbandoGoddess about a title that has been lurking in the seedy underbelly of the Steam platform that is set for release in a few weeks. She came across it on a Steam Curator list that you can find here. The title of this visual novel is…and I kid you not: Rape Day. I have made the editorial decision not to show any images promoting the game. However, in order to prove this thing exists, here is a link. However, consider this a Trigger Warning if you click that. Some of the images are highly suggestive of sexual violence and assault. Consider yourself warned. For those who don’t click the link, here’s the synopsis:
Control the choices of a menacing serial killer rapist during a zombie apocalypse. Verbally harass, kill, and rape women as you choose to progress the story. It’s a dangerous world with no laws. The zombies enjoy eating the flesh off warm humans and brutally raping them but you are the most dangerous rapist in town.
Rape Day is a choose your own adventure visual novel. It does not include grinding or any other time wasting activities. So skip the foreplay and enjoy your Rape Day; you deserve it.
The question with Valve’s policy has always been what they consider to be a ‘controversial’ developer. One thing we do know is a dividing line for Valve is the potential portrayal of the sexual exploitation of a child. Kotaku has cataloged what games have been affected here. That being said, one would think that the sexual exploitation of women would be on the same list, and this title isn’t shy about its subject matter. I mean, ‘Rape Day’ sort of gives away the entire point. But the larger issues is that it highlights the vague idea of where exactly Valve draws the line.
Ultimately, this is yet another case of Valve’s inconsistency and unprofessional behavior. I imagine they would argue that this would fall under the bolded part of the previous CYA release: it’s a controversial developer releasing a controversial game that none of us need to know about so long as we use the filtering systems. However, up until an hour before I posted this, there was no adult filter for this game. As long as you were logged into Steam, you could search and see it under its tags of Indie and Violent. More so, why this? Why does Steam have room for a game where the entire point is to violently rape women while other games don’t? While I may not be entitled to an explanation, I want one and I believe all of the developers that have had to put up with this sort of thing from Valve should get one, too.
At the time of this posting, Valve has not released any statement but if they do respond to my inquiries I will update the story. For now, I would love to know what you think. Is this title a step too far for Valve? Does it change your mind or cements your opinion about the targeted removals of last year? It’s certainly worth thinking about. I wish I had more to say than that, but I’m still shocked it even exists. We’ll have more as the story develops. JP3: OUT.