So I was asked to write some things for this article, but most of my comments went unused. This is perfectly fine, but I figured I’d go and edit them (a ton) a bit and post my opinions about this whole thing. This will be a little weird since it was written before the Dev’s opened their mouths, so bare with me.
Always! This is a terribly grey area and while I can understand why Tentacle Bento has upset a lot of people, there is a part of me that is bothered by this. Now, Tentacle Bento is not a product I would buy, and it didn’t seem particularly well done. Heck, at best it seems “Terrible”, rather crude and immature. Kickstarter was within their right to cancel it, and considering the public nature of the service, it really probably shouldn’t have rape humor on it. Kickstarter should be a safe place! It’s also not a free speech issue. What happened was free speech at work — a call and response between free people. It was something about the attitude exhibited by *SOME* people (primarily people in the video game “scene”) that compelled me to even have an opinion.
So my first thought was “This is pornography”, which to me means “leave it alone”. it’s rather surreal for me to see Brandon Sheffield mention this or Rapelay in the same sentence as “GTA” or “Capcom” and refer to it as “our industry”. These games are as much “our industry” as pornography is a part of the movie industry. Cinema about sex does not include the latest release from Brazzers. It’s movies like Deliverance or Monster and even most uncomfortably, Irréversible. For games, it’s mostly stuff in the indie scene (auntiepixelante’s work, or maybe even Catherine (though your mileage WILL vary).
But while Rapelay is clearly porn, comments from the developers have made indicates that the Tentacle Bento guys want to REALLY, HONESTLY be ‘cheeky satire’. So fuck em. Still, I get bothered by the idea that you have to be some sort of horrible person to enjoy stuff like this. THAT I can’t let stand.
So forget being an indie game designer, I come to this as a pervert (though the venn diagram there has a lot of overlap there). When I play creepy Japanese sex simulators, I don’t have my game design sensors go off in the same way they go off when I play any ‘actual’ game. I don’t consider them a direct part of our craft or industry. I grew up looking at hentai and at a young age was roleplaying online in scenarios involving non-consent (on both sides of the field!). I look at hentai on 4chan while I drink my morning coffee before I start my design work for the day. Fantasy rape is a pretty common fetish in all gender/sexuality/role configurations and for the most part, people keep themselves and their fetishes under total control. A lot of people even avoid the term ‘fantasy rape’ and prefer using ‘ravishment’ or other terms to try and block out the negative connotations. This gets complicated because Rape *IS* a huge a social issue. But is fantasy rape as separate from real rape as Fantasy Violence is from real violence? I would venture to say it is as separate, if not more so, though there is no study I could find on precisely this. There is plenty of studies that say More Porn = Less Reports of Rape (just google for them). Even if it doesn’t increase the chance of violence, does it negatively influence our opinions? A big issue a lot of people have isn’t that more people will become rapists, but that our REACTION to rape will be diminished, and we’ll all be a bunch of victim blaming pricks. Sadly nothing can be said for certain on that front, though I would venture a guess to say, like with most other things, the answer is “no”. Social injustice is ingrained on the subtle level, not with ridiculous violence or porn. Maybe. Who knows.
If something is pornography then I am of the opinion that people should not be shamed for what they enjoy as long as no one was hurt in making it and they can keep their feelings under control. I am of the opinion that porn is the safest place for people to enjoy these fantasies. Sexism in general media I think is a far far far worse problem (and where Tentacle Bento’s dev team seemingly wants to be). It’s hard to play a game like Rapelay and think of it as a normal part of culture — it is so intentionally taboo and terrible that it even becomes part of the experience. It throws up red flags in your brain that reminds you “this isn’t real”, just like ridiculously violent games do. Sexism in general media, or the attitude about rape in open culture is a lot more subversive and should be fought whenever it can. We should hold our ‘public’ media to a higher standard… But hands off the porn. Porn is indulgent and self aware and very much a part of our culture and how we deal with our un-vented sexual feelings. Porn is the retreat we use to stroke the dark parts of our psyches in safety. My issue does not come from the idea that this thing is terrible, but the occasionally common idea that one would have to be terrible to like something LIKE that. I just don’t think that follows.
So I think Tentacle Bento’s problem is it ISN’T PORNY ENOUGH (and it’s probably being made by slapdicks). Seriously! I mean that. Especially with some of the stuff the creators are saying now, maybe their ‘cheeky satire’ does fall under the label of ‘harmful subtle subversion’. It’s also public presence is also a huge issue. For better or for worse, if you wanna do really fetishy, questionable porn, it’s better not to bring a ton of attention to your self.
Also, I think people SHOULD say things like this are sexist and misogynistic. That’s totally cool and a good thing! People who enjoy these things SHOULD know what they are. It helps protect your brain… but at the same point, I don’t think people should be shamed for liking things like this. Our criticism of a piece of media should not NECESSARILY implicate it’s fans. Now, if the fans are saying wild, stupid shit, sure, but we should try not to implicate the whole fan base. People can enjoy things in different ways and for different reasons. I’m really disappointed that a number of fellow perverts were really quick to point the finger. I don’t want any kink-elitism going on. It’s like putting calorie counts on food. It’s not to say “ONLY A FUCKING FATASS FOOL WOULD EAT THIS”, it’s to make them aware of what they’re putting in their body. Equally, we should know what we’re putting into our brain so we can hope to treat it responsibly. And if we do prove to be sexist or fatasses or sexist fatasses it might be totally in line to go “WELL MAYBE IF YOU DIDN’T THINK PORNOGRAPHIC SEX/BIG MACS WERE NORMAL SEXUAL INTERACTION/FOOD, MAYBE YOU WOULDN’T BE SO SEXIST/FAT”, but we should try not to generalize.
So humorously when I wrote this for Ethan I was sorta begrudgingly pro Tentacle Bento, but I just can’t anymore. They deserve to be ripped to shit. I can still be Pro-Pervert though! And I will enjoy my creepy Japanese rape porn while striving to be a friendly, gentle human being in real life.
edit: I just read about the tier where you could put someon e’s likeness into the game. What the fuck are wrong with these guys? That’s not cool, even if they were obviously in porn territory.