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Rape: Is It Appropriate… in Video Games? (Part 2)

Posted under News by Justin Oung on Monday, September 30th, 2013 -

In an interview with Denis Wedin at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, he responds to the controversial scene in Dennaton Games’ Hotline Miami 2 by saying that sexual assault wasn’t handled well in the demo, and that the development team is taking a step back to reassess the impact of that scene.

We were really sad that some people were so affected by it, because maybe they had been through something like that of their own. Maybe they had a terrible experience of their own that was triggered by the game. That was not intentional at all. We didn’t add the scene just to be controversial. There is a meaning to these two characters. There’s a lot more to them than just this scene.

We removed it for the demo. We’re going to work with it, see if we can fix it. You get a bigger picture when you play the whole game, which is lost in the demo of course.

Originally criticized by Cara Ellison on PC Gamer over the aforementioned demo and how it may or may not have triggered traumatic episodes from her past, she makes a point in stating that the developers were isolating 1/5th of the second half of their core consumer base.  She describes the scene in detail:

But it’s because I identify as a woman. The woman in this game was exoticised by her tokenism. No male character in this scenario was singled out for rape. It has made my safe space – where I am a powerful thug who isn’t accountable to anyone – no longer safe. I have been forced to identify with the one person the game has given no agency. My agency has been removed not only from Pig Butcher, but agency was never given to the woman I now identify with – not even AI. Your arsenal has expanded. Hotline Miami manages to convey seediness well in two dimensions. The colour palette’s the same, too…

…Pig Butcher drops his trousers, and the director at the side of the screen yells “cut”. “Pig Man, well done, but don’t be afraid to be rougher. And you there, blondie – you need to work on your femininity. Act more helpless and scared. You know, more girly.” (sic)

Where Pratchett conveys the brutality of sexual assault, Dennaton’s demo makes a joke of the issue in the same way that a man takes a cultural studies course in college to try to pick up on ethnic women.  They are two sides of the same coin, but the tail end has been tarnished by a layer of misunderstanding.

However, if the pursuit of truth is any indication that the developers at Dennaton are trying to rectify the situation and their own thought processes in creating a tasteless, offensive image of an assault victim, then therein lies a paradox.

If the creators of Hotline Miami 2 have to remove a part of a scene in a demo where a female is being victimized, and that victimization is suddenly treated as a “fake” scene, then where does the censorship stop?  The entire game is centered on murdering countless victims and getting away with it, then ends the demo on a dark joke.  Should the creators of Hotline Miami 2 be held accountable for their joke, or would this further dehumanize their creativity?

Q: What’s the difference between a rape victim and a murder victim?

A: A murder victim can’t post about their murder in a blog.

You can please an audience some of the time, but you can’t please them all.

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