“Rape Day” tests the boundaries of Valve’s “hands off” approach to Steam

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Last year, Valve’s ubiquitous digital PC game storefront went through a few changes. Steam was lambasted for prudishly removing games and visual novels that featured sexual content, and as a result decided to take a more hands-off approach to content curation. Valve decided that it shouldn’t be deciding what’s morally right or wrong. They did, however, draw the line at games that were games that were illegal or “straight up trolling.”

“Valve shouldn’t be the ones deciding this. If you’re a player, we shouldn’t be choosing for you what content you can or can’t buy. If you’re a developer, we shouldn’t be choosing what content you’re allowed to create. Those choices should be yours to make. Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable.

With that principle in mind, 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. Taking this approach allows us to focus less on trying to police what should be on Steam, and more on building those tools to give people control over what kinds of content they see.”

Now there’s a new game on Steam that pushes the boundaries of good taste – along with testing just how hands-off Valve’s approach might be. It’s called Rape Day, and it’s a visual-novel style game that allows players to “verbally harass, kill, and rape women as you choose to progress the story.”

The game features 3D renders as illustrations for its 7000-word strong story, and if we’re honest isn’t too unusual for the sort of adult stuff you’ll find on steam. This one, however, seems to have ben made at least in part for the sake of courting controversy and testing Valve’s boundaries.

“If we ever come to the scientific conclusion that committing crimes in video games, significantly increases the chances of committing crimes in real life, then at that point we as a society will have to decide if we want to ban committing some or all crimes in fiction. But 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.

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. Moral out rage [sic] does not stop the entertainment industry, it slows it down but in time society progresses and realizes that the purely fictional things they thought would cause moral decay and widespread lawlessness in fact do not.”

Technically, the game isn’t breaking any of Steam’s rules.

“I have not broken any rules, so I don’t see how my game could get banned unless Steam changes their policies,” the developer says. “My game was properly marked as adult and with a thorough description of all of the potentially offensive content before the coming soon page went live on Steam.”

Last Updated: March 5, 2019

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