Rape Day Apocalypse developer Jake Roberts - apparently an alias for Mikel Randolph UpJohn, a senior US Air Force official - believes it is too late for the banning of the online game as many people have already downloaded it on Steam, a leading global online gaming distribution service with over 14 million users worldwide.
This is all UpJohn could say to Sunday Independent via email this week just a few days before the video game had been poised to launch in South Africa.
According to the Film and Publication Board (FPB), the game wasn’t launched due to a public outcry.
The FPB also confirmed that its online monitors would continue to check gaming platforms that could potentially distribute the game in future to take the appropriate action, as guided by our laws.
“The sentiment against this game raised by the public is a shared concern for FPB. The FPB classifies the content of films and games submitted to us by registered distributors to protect the children of South Africa from content that could cause harm. This includes elements such as violence, language and sex. We also classify pornographic material to ensure that children are not used and exploited in this type of content.
“We urge parents and caregivers to remain vigilant about the content that children are exposed to and ensure that they adhere to the age restriction assigned by the FPB. Age appropriate content goes a long way toward protecting children from premature exposure to content that can cause them psychological and developmental harm.”
There have been a number of complaints all over the world about the game in which players’ characters have to become serial rapists, among other atrocities, to advance to the next level.
Gender activist Mbuyiselo Botha supports the banning of the game and said it would normalise and institutionalise violence and imply “that it’s okay, you can play with rape, when in fact, we know that in the world there are studies that confirmed that we are in fact the highest in the world, in so far as rape is concerned”.
“And we’re raising our boys in a country that is not equal, where inequality is rampant and sexual harassment and rape and gender-based violence, all of them are rampant. Imagine young boys or young girls playing with this video. This is a matter of life or death. It is going to say to the boy child that women’s bodies are fair game. Women’s bodies are available. You can do and play with them as you like. And we know in South Africa, women’s bodies have become a battle-ground for misogyny, those that hate women.”
The game, set in a zombie apocalypse, features a 42-year-old tall body-builder male villain named Boss who faces imminent death in the impending final destruction of the world. He drowns babies and rapes women in a narrative that also includes scenes involving necrophilia, incest and obscene language.
Reports have described it generally as a “choose your own adventure visual novel”. Players choose from a variety of sequenced still images which have dialogue options containing pre-written stories. To progress to the next stage of the game, players are encouraged to rape women.
But thousands across the world have objected to it. It has been banned in Germany and Austria. Reports in the Sydney Morning Herald quoted British member of parliament Hannah Bardell referring to Rape Day as “utterly perverted.”
Steam parent company, Valve Corporation, eventually pulled the game from its wish-list on its site steamcommunity.com and issued a statement which read in part: “Today we’ve decided not to distribute this game on Steam. After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think Rape Day poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won’t be on Steam.”