A Game About Vector Retracement

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So a guy walks into a bar... no, wait let me start again. A girl walks into a bar... no, the girl walks out of the bar, that's it.

Hey I've got an idea, let's start making games about rape, just to explore the limits of the high, and maybe see if games can show us something about being human that narrative about rape cannot. Ok, what would be a good title for such a game? How about Rape?

Yeah, one syllable, just rolls right off the tongue. What a great title? This could be the birth of a franchise! Son-ic-the-hedge-hog, five syllables, Grand-theft-auto, three syllables, Rape, one syllable. Less is more, let's do it, we wouldn't want people to get the wrong idea.

Jazzuo is not Ryan Lambourn, and he is not an H-game developer, we must give him this much credit to start. (For the record, I am a Vtech alumi, I had to deal with the possibility of my friends getting shot that day, my ex-girlfriend had a friend who lost her fiancee, but I still enjoyed VTech Rampage and I'm glad it exists.) Jazzuo has developed a bunch of games, all available on his site, I took a minute to play his crucifixion game, which lets you shoot nails into the wrists of the Monty Python crew. A similar attitude is applied toward the design of a game about rape, but with some poise in the design. You control a posse of ruffians RTS-style, left clicking to pick out one and right clicking to move them around. Your goal is to stalk women and rape them. This is not excusable because the people involved are tiny pixels, or because the audio wears like a broken record after initial shock has passed. It is excusable and somewhat interesting because the gameplay involves the dynamics of pack attitudes, there's insight here. Success comes from manipulating vector retracements; that's the hard system of it. In Breakout it was so charming, family fun at that, but when it's a womanly sprite doing the retracement, it means fear. We are animals, that's a reality we're going to be getting more aware of in coming years, and this game dares to show us a portrait of that in the form of hunting patterns driven by psychopathic horniness coupled with domestic paranoia that is sadly justified.

Another interesting thing about this game is the point system, usually points are meant to be a fine-grained measurement of success, of skill. Here, you get an orgasmic barrage of points during a rape, completed through the rape. In the wake of this faux-euphoric rush, you leave your victim beaten and possibly dead to search for the next one. These are not earned rewards, the mind decouples from that satisfaction early, and then you feel relieved when a woman escapes and your game ends. What profit is it to a man to attain the high score but lose his own soul? I mean, that's a lot of raping.

Worked for the Bush administration.

On the other hand, this game is an immature swipe at a topic that deserves a touch more sensitivity and maybe another order of magnitude of system depth to truly yield insight. The portrayal of the rapists is entirely one dimensional, it would almost be more interesting if he just took clips from the limey thugs in A Clockwork Orange. It's got a punk reek to it, like Sid Vicious stabbing his girlfriend to death during a heroin trance. If you don't like to experience reek, I recommend you do not play Rape. However, I have a feeling my girlfriend is going to get a kick out of this one. That's what we call a paradox.


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Oh hell no.

Did I just wander into Kotaku or something?

This isn't "interesting." This isn't insightful. It's not even edgy. It's just hateful.

This gets it wrong on so many levels. First of all, the designer picked as his victim group one that is already marginalized within the gaming community. (Here's a thought experiment. Change the name of the game from "Rape" to "Klan." Still okay? Sadly, I suspect lots of people - white guys mostly - would say "yes.") What this does, and what its coverage on this site does, is tell women gamers that they're lesser, that while they may like playing games the gamer culture as a while considers their gender to be rape fodder.

Second, he - and you - get the issue wrong. While rape is real and endemic, it's not roving packs of men fueled by "psychopathic horniness." It's entitled guys - ones who are seen as ordinary and not monstrous - who feel they get to decide when a woman's "no" counts and when it doesn't, living in a culture that tells them that women exist for their sexual gratification.

Well . . .

JFP --

I couldn't agree more with your second paragraph, which I think is a valuable criticism of both of the game and the reviewer, though I think you might be a little unfair to the latter.

What I don't understand is how the game itself, let alone the review, can be said to "tell women gamers they're lesser" or that "gamer culture considers [women] to be rape fodder". Can you explain how that happens? For myself, I don't see anything in the mechanics or experience of the game which argues or even unconsciously implies this; for a review which just says "here is this game, it offers this limited insight through these mechanics, and it has these problems", I'm really mystified as to how that can be perceived as negative.

I think the game is pretty objectionable, and from the other work on Jazzu the designer is clearly misogynistic -- but he's written that he was attempting to be "neutral" about rape. Though that's clearly impossible, I do think it could be possible to extract some insight into rape through game mechanics, perhaps even from this game, regardless of the designer's intentions. Gaming is an interactive medium and meaning is created between designers and players -- so take the reviewer's response to the point deluge, which is one of disgust, for example. He doesn't feel rewarded by the points; the mechanic of point-scoring is subverted by it being about the horror of rape. We're learning something about the reward mechanics of both games and sexual violence. Maybe.

So yeah -- I'd genuinely like to know why you accuse the game and reviewer of these things, when perhaps we can learn more through other approaches.

i'm not going to play this

i'm not going to play this game, so i reserve comment on it. i did, however, read the99th's post, so i can comment that i still wish playthisthing would dump patrick dugan as a writer.

Why, is he too efensive for

Why, is he too efensive for your modern suburban-family way of life?

What are Dugan's other

What are Dugan's other offenses on playthisthing? I don't say that to be combative - I would really like to know.

I like the anal expulsive, inclusive nature of jazzuo's games, though. I don't think he means to either offend or make a statement, but rather that he makes games so quickly and haphazardly that a game is finished before he can reconsider his ideas (and when they're finished he probably doesn't care to reconsider them, anyway).

It's odd that the reviewer had never heard of sexyhiking (which I've seen reviewed at least twice, once on dessgeega's site) and chose as representative of jazzuo's games one featuring crucifixion.

Huh what

I am not going to play this game because I don't find anything appealing in such a crappy game on an unfunny subject but seriously, what the hell what that lone "Bush administration" comment about?
I hate Bush as much as everybody else but comparing a stupid game about rape to the Bush administration is just childish.

I hit my toe on the bedpost this morning and it hurts like hell, just like BU$H AMIRITE?

Here's the funny thing

When I read the description of this game, it sounds like a very basic RTS about mob mentality-- and that's very interesting, but there's different layers of skins over which you could wrap this without being quite so nakedly provocative. Sure, it could work for a game about gang-rape or lynch-mobs, but it could also work for a game about looting and pillaging-- which would very likely include rape and lynching, anyway.

Would this guy be in quite the same amount of hot water, then, if he had decided to make a game called "Vikings" in which you control your men and do basically the same thing to villager-women? Is it just the modern context that makes this so stomach-churning, or would it be just as disturbing if some distance were put between us and the subject matter? And are games like this the slippery slope to a "Rape" action being included in the next Triple-A RTS game?

As has been pointed out above, this game really doesn't have anything to do with the actual crime of sexual violence, at least as it occurs most commonly. It reminds me of Cerebus' "second marriage" in "Church & State"-- one of the more articulate expressions of misogyny. Just as tasteless, mind you. Maybe Jazzuo is Dave Sim, after all...

Focus On The Dynamic

"I hate Bush as much as everybody else but comparing a stupid game about rape to the Bush administration is just childish."

I agree, I really just couldn't resist the urge to write that.

Bob: those are great questions. It's like Pit Tetris in reverse, we see games that tackle taboo subjects and we can try to peel back and ask what the underlying game is saying instead of the sound and visual assets.

As for my other offenses, I thought the Muslim Massacre game was really good, gameplay wise, and I pepper in drug references, financial jargon, swears. My goal in writing is to bend the mind with both difficult to parse syntax and the casual evisceration of moral sensibilities. Did I win?

Novack: got your back dude!

I love Play This Thing

This is why I love this site. Nowhere else on the internet can you see a discussion like this.

Main offense

Repeatedly using the word "punk" to describe a lot of people who are just being assholes to get attention, as though they were part of some underground movement fighting the Man with their super-hip DIY games, rock, and attitude, when they're really just assholes.

Actually, that's pretty much what "punk" was too, so I guess you're using it right. Nevermind.

Where is it ?

It looks like the whole site of Jazzuo is down. Will this last, and I am the only one facing this issue ?

Yeah I think the influx of

Yeah I think the influx of traffic may have whacked it. How punk. :D

"My goal in writing is to

"My goal in writing is to bend the mind with both difficult to parse syntax and the casual evisceration of moral sensibilities. Did I win?"

so your goal as stated is to write bad prose and artificially force controversy: in that case, you're a winner on both counts! unfortunately, the loser is playthisthing and everyone who reads it.

Then, by all means, stop

Then, by all means, stop reading his posts, or the blog. You miss the points raised repeatedly, so why even bother next time? Or do you just like showing off your proper sensibility and good taste to complete strangers?

I read it for Dugan's writing, as it is useful and well written and I appreciate the fooling around. By the way, Lud IX, you lose on the difficult syntax bit.

What does the KKK have to do with this.

This guy clearly said that you feel relieved when a woman escapes so clearly he is against rape. This doesn't promote rape or sexism. This is an experimental game that toys with emotions. I admit I didn't play it because I personally find rape unbearable to witness (as well as other forms of pain) but the fact remains that the game never says OMG RAEP IZ AWESOME LOL! That would make the game sexist. If not then it would be a failed try at dark humor. :P If a woman made this game the exact same way then I think you would probably think again. You would think, "That woman doesn't mind MAKING a game like this so it shouldn't be too bad." If a man makes it however, everyone will pin him as a sexist pervert who lives in his mom's basement getting drunk (in that case he couldn't make a game at all. XP)


I agree with you all the way. Why should vikings get the benefit of the doubt. XD

A game called Rape

I thought it was interesting to try to see beyone the simple theme of the game and read into it more. Sure the object of the game is to rape, and that's interesting in itself as long as you can differentiate between fantasy and reality, and probably looks bad to most people (I would hope, heh) doesnt mean you cant find layers beyond that. You can ask why your character(s) want to do this and what are they really getting out of it, or you can think about the meanings behind the point system and other little things, like the reviewer did.

In any case, I find it rather interesting that you read the review and either didn't expect to find it offensive pretty early in or just felt like spinning the revolver chamber in a game of roulette involving not "if" you would be offended, but by "how much".

I think the only way this game would be a problem for me is if it were called something like "Happy Fun Town Sunshine". At least with an appropriate name you know what you are getting, even if it is 'somewhat' unoriginal :P
It would be silly to expect all offensive material to be removed from the Internet :) There ARE places on the Internet that are somewhat safe/predictable content that you can go to and not worry about being offended, and reviews on this game generally would not be included.
I wonder, do you think the review should not be allowed? Why is it so hard to respect others' opinions...