Out Of Controls: Edmund

Brrrrrr.

Brrrrrrr. I just had a thoroughly unpleasant gaming experience. Edmund, by Paul Greasley. It’s a game about playing a rapist. So, you know, you might not want to click. It’s deeply horrible. It is, however, an impressively presented game, and one that raises some very interesting questions about interaction.

If you want to experience the game for yourself, follow the link above and play it before you read on, as I’m going to describe everything that happens in order to attempt to encapsulate my response.

Right, so, there’s two versions of the game. You play Edmund the citizen, or Edmund the Vietnam (maybe?) soldier. In both instances you are given some traditional methods of interaction. Cursor keys to move around, Z to jump, X to attack. As it happens the first version is the more interesting of the two.

In the first version you get a cab, there’s some friendly banter between you and the cab driver, and perhaps the implicit suggestion you’re looking for a prostitute. You are, however, looking for any woman on her own. In the second you throw some bombs from a helicopter, then land, then must run through some traditional platform-ish sequences of jumping over mines, until you meet the lone enemy, who will shoot you if you don’t shoot first. Then a woman runs up to his corpse and weeps.

I should stress at this point that while I’d been warned it was not a nice game, I had no idea it was about rape. Playing the first version you’re mostly not in control, clicking through the dialogue. Once you can interact there’s nothing to do other than approach the woman, with whom you have a slightly creepy conversation. Then control returns. So, being a game, I attempted to interact with the woman again, to speak once more. It’s quite common in such games for the ‘attack’ key to also be the ‘interact’ key. I hit her. She immediately begins crawling backward, on her back, scrambling to get away from me, crying. I felt horrified. Not wanting to hit her again, and with nothing else to do, I returned to the cab and it was game over.

I tried the second version, and this time things were much more traditionally shootery. I figured this was another angle on the man? Perhaps the cause of his violence? So you kill a few people from the chopper, then on the ground I found myself dying over and over due to misjudged jumps over the mines. When I finally reached the human opponent he shot me first, forcing me to start over yet again. This time I was ready for him and shot him. Then the woman runs out, over to him, and starts sobbing. I couldn’t carry on to the right. And my gun was gone. All I have left to do is use the ‘attack’ key.

So I’m playing this to write about it here. I technically need to know what happens if you deliberately hit her. That’s my rationale. I hit her. She scrambles and cries like in the other half of the game. I hit her again, and I think she’s now dead. The music changes, the scene slightly darkens. I still can’t move to the right. When I walk past their bodies the movement slows down, and I’m not sure why. So I attempt to interact again, but I’m not sure if anything is happening. And then I notice that the simplistic pixel character’s trousers have disappeared. And then I realise he’s raping her. And then it fades to just the two, and the game ends, and I feel revulsion.

Apparently Edmund has been heralded in some places as a poignant statement about rape. I cannot see this. It’s quite foul. But it does have something to say about interaction. When we’re in a game, and we can only do one thing, there is a compulsion to do that thing. To progress. To see what happens next. And Edmund asks the question: what are you prepared to do to see what happens next? I chose to hit the woman the second time. I did not mean to do more, do worse. When I realised I was, I pressed the button again because I wanted to see what the consequence was. I feel just horrible now.

Of course, we’re talking about crude pixels in a two minute long game. It subverts our gaming desire to proceed, to reach the end. It makes me think about how casually I’ll shoot someone in a game because they’re running toward me, without being aware of their motivations. It makes me extremely uncomfortable and upset that I played it.

So that’s nice. Genuine thanks to Tom for pointing this out, and offering me warnings that it wouldn’t be a fun time.

From this site

90 Comments

  1. Smee says:

    Oh, um.

    When I played this a while back, I must have accidentally immediately got back into the taxi without even encountering the woman, and then in Vietnam I got annoyed at the jumping and quit. I feel like I dodged quite the bullet there.

  2. clive dunn says:

    I’ve been showering ever since i read this thread.

    (too soon for jokes?……yeah)

    I’ll get my coat.

    Remember, pixels have feelings too!

  3. Alexander Norris says:

    The second part of the “game” has little to no meaning without having played the first part (the civilian one) at least once, and preferably twice. If you want to “get” this, you should play through both possible outcomes of the first part before playing both outcomes of the second part (there’s a certain order to it, too: the girl, then Eddie, then the girl, then Eddie). As a game about rape, I have no idea what it’s trying to say (in fact, if anything, it seems to side with the rapist rather than the victim). As a narrative experiment, it doesn’t exactly do anything extremely new.

    I’d say more, but then I’d be spoiling it for others, I guess. If you do decide to go through the first section again, John, and once you’ve done the other two possible endings to that (the ones involving not getting back into the taxi), just remember what happened when the enemy shoots you in the second (war) part.

    Edit: edited for clarity, since this post made no sense.

    • fishyjoes says:

      I think you can spoil what happens after the rape as John spoiled pretty much everything he played. He also warned everyone about spoilers in the post, so noboby should be clicking on the comments not expecting spoilers.

      More on the topic itself: Did anyone now what happens when you dont shoot Eddie as taxi driver when he runs away? I shoot him but then I fell down too and the game ended.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Alright, here are the spoilers (WARNING, SPOILERS):

      Eddie is Mikey is Eddie.

      Notice that: at the beginning of the civilian part, the taxi Eddie is talking to is empty. Then, as Mikey, if you choose to shoot Eddie, Mikey also collapses. If you shoot the girl, the next scene shows Eddie driving the taxi. At the end of the soldier part, if you allow Eddie to be shot first, his falling sprite is replaced with Mikey’s. Also take note of what “Eddie” says to “Mikey” when you reach the flat (it’s “Mikey’s” flat, and something about “like the old days”).

      In other words, Mikey/Eddie, the taxi driver, raped a little girl after shooting her father in “the War,” and has since been fighting against the compulsion to rape another person (having presumably enjoyed it the first time). Some years after, he gives in to the compulsion, beats a young girl unconscious at a bus stop, then takes her to his flat and drugs here, at which point he momentarily realises that rape is bad and depending on your choice, either rapes the girl anyway and goes on to be a serial rapist or shoots himself and successfully commits suicide.

      Which leaves the message as “rapists do it for a reason!” or possibly “war is bad,” neither of which sound like a message that the game might want to convey given its subject matter, I think.

    • Rich says:

      Ah, the old Calvin and Hobbs, Fight Club angle.

    • Octaeder says:

      @Alexander Norris

      It’s as well you added the spoilers because, on learning about the multiple endings, I had no intention of going back to replay it.

      As you say, it really doesn’t have any emotional or contextual message to justify the content.

  4. PhiIl Cameron says:

    The Edmund the Citizen one is far more interesting if you actually go through with the rape, as abhorrent as that would seem. You end you becoming the taxi driver and chasing Edmund down, before cornering him in a corridor. What happens next is interesting, to say the least. But yeah, not quite sure exactly what it’s trying to say, but that may be the point.

    • Lewis says:

      Yeah, this. I was absolutely appalled to start with as well, but if you “push through it”, so to speak, it does try to tie it all up into something that makes sense.

      I enjoyed that Edmund put me in the shoes of such an abominable character. Well, enjoyed is the wrong word. I respect that it did so. It’s not a game to enjoy.

  5. Hypocee says:

    Shadow of the Colossus draws all of its essence from this.

  6. Rich says:

    Maybe have a look at this tonight after work.
    Then I’ll probably clear my mind with some nice, honest to goodness shootin’ baddies ‘cos I’m supposed to, fun.

  7. Soundofvictory says:

    I think it should be mentioned that this game was originally created for a TIGSource competition where the theme was something like Sex/Education.
    Deeply disturbing stuff.

  8. James says:

    Won’t play it, but what I read reminded me of that horrible feeling of not being in control of your actions from FFVII (poor Aeris). It’s an effective and not yet over-used device – hope it doesn’t get too popular though.

  9. Risingson says:

    So welcome to the wonderful world of gamexplotation. I suppose that the videogame version of “Savage Streets” isn’t too far.

    Quicktime events included.

  10. Sinnerman says:

    At best this made me think a little more about how the action button in games does what the designer thinks a character should do in that situation and not what the player thinks should happen and how much work is needed by both parties to make them seem like the same thing. Seems like I am singing the same tune as John Walker here.

    Adventures have been reduced from a text parser with a lot of verbs to one verb which is “do the one thing that the game developers want me to see at this time.” Which is sometimes some ambiguous social commentary about sex offenders and war crimes. No original thinking here on my part either, oh well.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      No, to be fair I think there’s a very good point to be made here. Let me see if I can home in on it.

      A bad game design only lets you do what the designer wants you to do.
      A good game design can (and apparently does in this case) portray something about compulsive behaviours. What does it say if the protagonist doesn’t see any option other than to move forward in one particular way?

      Perhaps this game offers a glimpse into some aspects of mental illness. Perhaps most people don’t want that insight .

    • Sinnerman says:

      I don’t think it says much about compulsive behavior as much as not being able to predict what a character on screen is going to do. One of the better things about games where you have a jump button is you can predict what is going to happen when you jump on or around things so you are compelled to jump because the act of jumping itself is rewarding. Having an action button where the character does stupid things that are out of your control makes you less compelled to press the action button unless those things are somehow always desirable.

  11. Bowlby says:

    This is probably the worst experience I’ve ever had playing a video game.

    I think, as John Walker pointed out, it has very little to say about rape but more about the essential relationship between player and avatar. It speaks volumes of the unique power games have over passive media, because here you are not the idle, objective observer, but the active, subjective participant.

    On that front, it is highly effective at communicating its message, but it’s also a morally repugnant piece of work.

    • D says:

      I don’t get this. What is the essential ethical difference between a COD shooter where you must kill X number of family-men turned jihadist terrorists, vs. this rape game stuff? The actions of both games are completely outside of a normal persons reality. It is only something the crazy and misguided do. I mean, to go to another country, for whatever reason, and shoot the inhabitants? A deeply disturbing thing to do. And yet one theme is lauded with a whole genre of games, and another has 1 game (not counting the japanese ones), and that one is deemed by you to be morally repugnant. Of course the theme is so, but the game itself? What is the difference? I am asking sincerely.

    • Lilliput King says:

      @D: An oversimplified answer, but do the soldiers in Afghanistan bear the same moral cuplability as a serial rapist? This seems to be what you’re saying, and I’d argue it’s an unfair and irrational assessment.

    • Jeremy says:

      Well, people don’t just fly around to new countries to shoot people, it’s usually a part of some kind of war or military action. Also, both sides of any military conflict go into it knowing the potential cost, so it isn’t something done against their will. I find it interesting that you only empathize with those that are killed on the opposing side though, that they are the family men and nobody else.

    • Bowlby says:

      I think CoD is a bad example, but I do see what you’re saying. I think this is a complex thing to disassemble, so at this point I’m very much hypothesising off the cuff. My highly rash, and quite possibly wrong, theory of the moment is that this is a game where the aim is to commit an atrocity, with no justification behind it – or, at least, none that I can empathise with.

      Even if we take a game like GTA, the aim isn’t to beat up prostitutes or kill civilians. The aim is to seek revenge for fallen comrades. It may not be right, but there is something I can understand.

      This is as far as my explanation goes, really.

    • Hmm says:

      It’s portraying bad rape. Not heroic rape, where you do it to bad guys to save a princess, or something.

    • Bowlby says:

      @Hmm

      ***SPOILER for Eastern Promises***

      .
      ..

      I’m going by memory here, but there’s a part in Eastern Promises where the main character is almost pressured into having sex with a girl who’s an abused prostitute. He refuses, I believe. But considering he turns out to be an undercover agent attempting to take down a Russian syndicate, his actions would have been understandable, though repulsive, if he did have sex with that girl, because he’s doing it for what he perceives as a greater good.

      It’s not the same thing as justifying rape. I’m not even sure there is such a thing as a good justification for rape. But it is, at least, some kind of justification.

      Another example: High Plains Drifter

      Clint Eastwood’s character rapes a woman in a corrupt town. The justification for this is the implication she sort of wants it or deserves it, and he knows this somehow because he’s sent as a kind of angel to bring justice to the town. Even so, it’s pretty misogynistic and dubious, but there is at least some justification there – twisted, it may be; it at least makes sense.

      In any case, it’s not clear-cut.

    • Bowlby says:

      Context! Christ, that’s the word I’ve been searching for. Edmond doesn’t give me enough of a context, whereas there is context in games like Modern Warfare 2 and films like Eastern Promises and High Plains Drifter. And if the context is just “He’s evil” or something, then that gives me zero to empathise with.

    • D says:

      The game is morally repugnant because it lacks proper context for the actions it expects you to do. It lacks justification for whats going to be happening. Thats very good. I guess I don’t agree in this case, but I can now see how that would cause a game to be repugnant. I think this game does manage to give an amount of context, playing the ”vietnam” backstory, and I didn’t feel like I needed more justification than “he’s fucked up now” for playing as the split personality rapist. The context given doesn’t result in any sympathy for the character, but it did cause me to like the game rather than dislike. Because it wasn’t just about rape. Cheers Bowlby

  12. Lambchops says:

    Read about this game before and decided not to play it. Haven’t changed my mind.

  13. LionsPhil says:

    @James: “A man chooses, a slave obeys.”

  14. quake1istehbestgameintheworld says:

    I kill so many people into so many video game, I must feel horrible, but i doesn’t, and if i does, i find that so much awesome. Because well, it’s what game (or even art) is about, enjoy thing you cannot do in real life, because you’re not a hero, because you’re not in a magical realm, because you have never see that in this way way, and yeah, because it’s forbidden too.

    Rape, killing, that’s the same thing, except rape is more a taboo (and that’s why i hope see more video game with it), but come to “don’t care” at “i feel horrible to just slap a woman” is a little bit extreme.

  15. Bhazor says:

    I’m sorry but I just didn’t feel the same revulsion as John did. I can’t quite explain how but its the same as not taking the blame for Humbert Humbert in Lolita despite it being in first person.

    Edit: I guess my point is that I am repulsed by the actions of the character but not by me actually playing.

  16. Chobes says:

    “Apparently Edmund has been heralded in some places as a poignant statement about rape. I cannot see this. It’s quite foul. But it does have something to say about interaction. When we’re in a game, and we can only do one thing, there is a compulsion to do that thing. To progress. To see what happens next. And Edmund asks the question: what are you prepared to do to see what happens next? I chose to hit the woman the second time. I did not mean to do more, do worse. When I realised I was, I pressed the button again because I wanted to see what the consequence was. I feel just horrible now.”

    I feel like this is you beautifully summarizing the statement of the game and not quite giving the creator credit for it. The game definitely didn’t seem to be Sim Rapefest ’10 to me; it got graphic, but it’d be a disservice to the message to remove that element of acrid truth.

  17. Cynic says:

    Well it’s a good thing that my ISP hates tigsource then.

  18. Cutman says:

    Not one of these games again

    • Joseppe says:

      @Cutman IAWTC

      It’s almost as if people forget the last time somebody made the same exact game (compel player to do something horrible or quit playing, have dark crazy main character, etc). Not newsworthy.

  19. TommyTiger says:

    In the same way that a movie about war SHOULD be horrific and bloody and terrifying (ie: Saving Private Ryan, not Top Gun), a game about rape (or the psychological consequences of war, or whatever you think it’s about) SHOULD be uncomfortable at the very least or, better, really repulsive (ie: Edmund, not COD).

    But I do mean repulsive in that it pushes you away; makes you want to stop playing, NOT in the way that some commenters seem to be saying; ie that the game ITSELF is repulsive, “morally repugnant” or whatever.

    That’s how it made me feel, repulsed, and I recognised that no other gaming experience had managed to elicit that response in me, which was why I emailed John about it.

    If I’m honest, I don’t think I really know what the game is about (though Alexander Norris’ explanation above is pretty persuasive), but I don’t care. One thing I am sure about is that gaming is short on the idea of pathos, an idea that the Greeks were fascinated by when deciding why it was pleasurable to watch tragedy. I think we’re probably ready for game developers to be tackling these issues.

    Also, personally I think that, if you never look at or talk about difficult issues like rape then all you do is invest them with more power. By examining this subject with weight and seriousness this game, and all discussion about unpleasant or taboo issues, is moving the zeitgeist forward.

    Having said all that though, I won’t be playing it again!

    • leafdot says:

      Agreed, re: pathos in games. Why do you suppose that is – the lack of it, I mean. Is it a technical limitation – ie, we can’t make games with avatars that are complex and still playable – or is it because games are so prone to escapism that anything else – really contemplating killing/raping/pillaging – shines too much a light on the /player’s/ darker side?

      Somebody brought up Lolita above – but there’s a big difference: in a book, first person or not, you’re still observing, not participating. You’re being told a story, not telling it. (Whether a game is telling a story or not is an interesting question in itself.)

      That being said: I think games should take on these sorts of questions. Whether we’re satisfied with the answers or not is a personal thing, but examining war/rape from a more… personal(?) level is healthy. Healthier, anyway, than creating /only/ games of war or genocide or murder that never try to look at the reality of these things. I.e., usually these things are bad and there is a reason they are frowned upon. And maybe this /is/ too shallow an exploration, as some of you feel, but there’s room for that, isn’t there? (I don’t think you can call this “exploitation” though unless it’s meant to be gotten off on. And maybe there are some pixel/rape fetishists out there, but…)

      Meanwhile last night I was watching this TV show where a guy went around slitting random people’s throats because his dad was a sociopath what killed his mom. That was the show’s attempt at ‘depth’ or motivation – it ultimately felt heartless and empty. They weren’t exploring anything, not really, it was just shock value. At one point the guy kills this little kid’s mom in front of him. (Happens off camera, but still.) Meanwhile meanwhile: I love the show Dexter. Would I like to /be/ Dexter in a game? Hm. Or maybe this is more apt: ‘From Hell’ is a wonderful comic, much of which is from Jack the Ripper’s POV.. what sort of interactive experience would that be? There’s a board game about being Jack the Ripper… well, the other player’s a cop, but still. Anyway! See, this is why the existence of this game is good, if for no other reason: it raises lots of interesting questions, about entertainment, art, and us.

      It’s all a big ol’ mess, but I guess I’d rather have it be that way than not, since it shows at least we’re asking the questions.

  20. Gothnak says:

    Shooting people fine in games, raping people in games, bad…

    However (and i don’t mean this in a flippant way, but it is going to come across like it), I’m sure if you asked someone which is worse to be done ‘to’ them, they’d say the death bit…

  21. eXaX says:

    I played through it. And raped both of them. And I must admit it’s a pretty interesting game. Specifically the reaction people have showed after playing this game (or reading about it).

    First and foremost, it’s a couple of minutes game with minimal story, minimal character development and minimal gameplay and yet it manages to create an reaction amongst both people who have played it and those who haven’t. Which is pretty amazing in itself.

    Secondly, even if there is minimal amount of story/character development you still get to know more about Edmund then most other main characters in videogames, and the choices he (you?) makes creates that “relationship”.

    Thirdly, the game isn’t about rape. It’s about a rapist. And the decisions he makes.

    Some might argue because of compulsion, some will say because he became deranged in the war, some will say he’s just evil (considering he was shooting villagers down from the helicopter_then_told his fellow soldiers that setting fire to their crops would hopefully scare them away indicating he had become like this, perhaps even, before the war began).

    And fourthly, you have a couple of choices to end this without raping anyone (but granted, the “complete” point of the story wouldn’t come through).

    Pretty amazing game to be honest.

  22. robrob says:

    The Baron (which John Walker writes eloquently about here: link to rockpapershotgun.com ) is something that should be mentioned here. It is much smarter and had a much greater impact on me than Edmund.

  23. Jakkar says:

    Very interesting.

    I habitually test my controls before I use them, so I saw that the x button caused him to perform a ‘slapping’ motion. I chose not to use it on either female, but I did shoot the man with the rifle.

    I appreciate the game. It tells me something very comforting about myself; I am not ruled by curiosity, it will not lead me to do things I know are bad. I tortured enough insects to death as a child to suddenly, sharply develop a strong moral conscience.

    • Jakkar says:

      “let me explain…..without giving it thorough thought I hit the woman without looking for an exit. Just because I thought it wouldn’t hit her, and when it did… I didn’t stop.”

      “That in itself is an odd consideration.”

      Quotes from a friend I linked the game without telling him what it was.

    • D says:

      So, do you make a habit of applying your true moral standards to what you do and don’t do in games? You shouldn’t unnecessarily blur the line between ‘rape’ and ‘pressing X repeatedly’.

    • Jakkar says:

      I do – in RPG games I invariably play myself. I design the character’s appearance (when possible) after my own face and physical proportions and apply my own personality, my raw, untouched thoughts and feelings to each decision. Results in a massively immersive and enjoyable experience, for me.

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      man, that’s some sick narcissistic shit :))

  24. Helm says:

    I remember when I was playing this and I hit the girl the first time without knowing what was going to happen. When I realized the game wanted further input I remember thinking to myself “oh okay. I guess this is what I am going to do here.”

    Edmund is not a good game, but it was one of the first few times I actively tried to explore videogames not as a moralist (“what would the real me do in that situation?”) situation but as an imaginary scape. I didn’t like of course that the game cornerned me into doing a horrible thing purely through control sceme tricks (which is why as a game Edmund isn’t very good) but as a point of personal development surrounding it I have a good memory of it.

  25. 1stGear says:

    I like how That Level in MW2 gets called out for being pretentious bullshit, but this is an experience that everyone should play through, despite the fact that all the analysis be applied to this could just as easily be applied to gunning down civilians in an airport. I wonder if it has anything to do with this being some struggling indie developer while MW2 was made by a big mean major development studio.

    Honestly, why should I feel horrified for what Eddie does? I’ve spent all of two minutes with this collection of pixels. I don’t feel any more connection to him as an avatar than I do to the disembodied gun running around in any shooter. Emily was another collection of pixels that I spent all of 10 seconds with. I don’t feel shocked and horrified about it, because I have no investment, no interest in it.

    Commander Shepard is an avatar. Your character in Oblivion and Fallout 3 is an avatar. Your mercenary in Far Cry 2 is more of an avatar than Eddie. He’s just a bunch of pixels put in front of me by someone trying to make a muddled and ham-handed point.

    • Jakkar says:

      You have no imagination.

    • 1stGear says:

      Sorry. I’ll do every game developer’s job for them from now on and just imagine that they made a good game.

    • Jakkar says:

      I’ve felt more connected to older, graphically primitive game-characters than to any in the games you mentioned. I felt closer to sprite-characters in Fallout than any animated 3d form in Fallout 3. Eddie’s dialogue was.. Creepily authentic, when chatting to the taxi driver. And his words with the victims reminded me of a few twisted individuals I’ve had the misfortune to encounter.

      It did the job, for me. The visuals are merely a keyhole for the imagination to open the door.

    • Bret says:

      Hey, Walker seems to think they’re both abominable shit. Consistency and accuracy. Another reason to love good old RPS.

    • Hypocee says:

      Wowie zowie, I want to read the article you did, the one where Walker said this was ‘an experience that everyone should play through’, and virtually every commenter didn’t call it a bad and ineffective game. Where can I find it please?

  26. Isometric says:

    An uneasy experience to be sure. I had to write about it to get it out of my system.

  27. Shazbut says:

    The latest game comes out with “meaningful interactions” and “moral choices”, gets 95%, and involves gunning down hundreds without a thought. Then this appears, which makes the player feel revulsion for a slap across the face let alone any more and people condemn the work as abhorrent?

    This game explores motivation, which is still something incredibly rare in game narrative and is why so few games are ever mature. But it doesn’t explore it in an analytical way, it takes advantage of the unique quality of the game medium and forces you to experience the actions first hand, so you actually bloody feel something.

    And if you start thinking about what it’s “trying to say”, you’ve missed the point.

    • Octaeder says:

      Sorry, but unless it has something to say – and I think it does, it’s just what it’s saying is pretty shallow – then it’s just a game about raping people. I’ll pass, thanks.

      I’m not even condemning it as abhorrent. I just think it felt flat because of the lack of any real context to justify the actions you’re made to experience.

    • elle says:

      Context in the game? Bah, who needs it?

      Greasley: “Just because you get a different meaning out of it doesn’t change the way it was intended, Im alowed my opinion on the topic too. Your free to believe whatever you want it to be, but if you ask how it was intended, then you know.”

      Has there ever been a quote that so blatantly outed someone as a shitty game designer? What’s in the game is irrelevant if I just tell you what it’s about?

      The people getting a lot of good thought out of this game already have the capacity to think broadly about the topic. The people who aren’t and just see this as an interactive rape sim aren’t having their minds changed by the design of the game. That’s bad design.

      This isn’t Braid, where people show up for the puzzles and leave with some deeper experience they didn’t expect. Here, people show up to analyze it – they show up for the deeper experience they already have to bring to the game. So the people who show up for the rape – the people who ought to leave with a deeper experience – leave and say things like “it’s just the two women? lolol.”

  28. sana says:

    Pretentious deep bullshit. Right up the alley of RPS commenters who conjured up a shitstorm about some ad involving a female being slapped…

  29. Daniel Klein says:

    Dunno. Not repulsed, really. Does that make me a monster? It’s a story. It doesn’t have a message. Messages are rubbish. Messages are for the news and televangelists. Stories just have stuff happening in them.

    Now that stuff should affect you. A good story does that. Requiem for a Dream devastated me, Irreversible shocked and disgusted me (and then broke my heart with that last scene, crassly manipulative as though it was), and Oldboy left me with a fundamental yuck (somewhat subverted though by the sheer amount of awesome that went into the execution of that reveal).

    This is a very minimal experiment. If it was a movie, it would probably be five minutes of terse dialogue and then a painful rape scene. Or five minutes of action and then a painful rape scene for the vietnam segment. Of course it elicits a reaction, but not a deep and real one, because the character simply isn’t deep and real enough.

    However, as an artsy experiment, I do find it interesting. I went into it knowing it was about rape, so I definitely wanted to see the rape scenes. I found the mine jumping very dull and the vietnamnese man who pops up and shoots you the first time you enter the village was just cheap, so it was not a game I would have played otherwise, but there was that curiosity. When it came to the rape, it was a simple case of “what buttons do I need to push to see what happens next?” I found out that you can walk away from your victim mid-rape and even approach her from the other side for an alternative rape position. All of this was highly odd and very wrong, but more like a “holy shit I can’t believe someone made this” wrong rather than a “oh my god I’m going to hell let me wash my eyes out with bleach and then chop off my hands” wrong. I guess I have a safety setting in my brain that removed my from the fiction. At this point I was seeing it abstractly as a piece of software that accepted input and yielded output, and I was just playing around finding all possible inputs.

    Someone recently posted this over on the deviantART prose and poetry forums (where I occasionally read stuff out of sheer nostalgia):

    Why are writers spineless?

    In short he asks: “Why do we self-censor?” Why are there places we won’t go, conceptually? There haven’t been many good answers, but I was thinking about my own answer. I’ve come up with something very mundane and boring. We filter a LOT of stuff. I wouldn’t write a story about how my lightbulb burned out and then I went to the shop and got myself a new light bulb. There are certain elements that make stories worth telling, and somehow redemption (in all its guises) is in there somehow. I mean, look at The Road. McCarthy is not a shiny happy hippie, he’s clearly all about the bleak soul-crushing despair, and yet even he found it necessary to add the tiniest ray of hope in the end of the narrative. Had he ended three pages earlier, the book would have felt kind of pointless. I mean, feeling kind of pointless is an acceptable purpose for post-modern art (just like Edmund), but most of art-as-entertainment (as opposed to art-as-experiment) self-filters for narratives that will feel like they had a point. The unrepentant rapist with no explanation given (because Vietnam was clearly his CHOICE as well; he could have walked away from the grieving woman, only the game won’t let you do that) is just not a story that we would normally write.

    And I guess this is where my lack of suspension of disbelief stems from. Not just the brevity and superficiality necessitated by the brevity, but also the fact that this is simply not a story normally worth telling, and so my brain switched from “immerse yourself in the narrative and enjoy it” to “analyse and observe” mode.

    tl;dr: Man, those mines are fucking annoying. Let’s get to the raping already!

  30. clive dunn says:

    I hope radical Vietnam vets don’t get hold of this.

    On another note, my wife recently told me that, for the past 20 years, she thought that the term, ‘Vietnam vets’ was refering to actual vets that treated wounded animals caught in the fighting.
    She is also an expert in domestic violence and rape.
    I am wondering if it would be wise to ask her opinion on this ‘game’?

    • Joseppe says:

      As somebody who has worked in DV/SA crisis counseling and studies violence and trauma, my two cents is this:
      Don’t waste your friend’s time. This is nothing special. People have been making entertainment about rape and whatnot for years and calling it edgy, then acting like people talking about it makes it good. No new territory has been covered here.

  31. John says:

    I am a bit scared by the urge of pressing X, even though i couldn’t watch it. I felt what i was doing, i heard what i was doing, and it repulsed me, and i looked away. But i couldn’t not do it. I had to feel it. I loved the masochistic feeling it provided. Man, this is unexpected.

  32. DoubleW says:

    I thought the warzone sequence was interesting in that you can’t see your bullets when you are firing like you can in just about every platform shooter ever. During the helicopter sequence, I hit fire and didn’t see anything happening until I looked down and saw the dead villagers. It’s like Edmund doesn’t connect his actions to their consequences. And the unfair mines and hidden gunman in the village made me feel a little powerless and frustrated. He can’t walk away from the helpless woman, even if we wanted to. We carry on with the rape, watching ourselves from afar.

  33. Smallfry says:

    The theme for the competition was Adult and/or Education (link to tigsource.com). There were some other impressive games that came out of the competition, and some really interesting ones as well. My favorites were Back Door Man (a point-and-click adventure where you control a male prostitute) and Jirosum (a side-scrolling math shootemup). I admit Edmund is good, or at least interesting, but I only played for about 20 seconds. I felt too awful after killing the woman at the bus stop in cold blood.

  34. Bandersnatch says:

    Guess you guys missed the third game where you find out Mikey and Emily have been married for quite awhile and to spice things up they begin to roleplay a rape scenario. So Emily heads to the bus station and pretends to wait for a bus. Mikey becomes Eddie and drives to the bus station in their car which he pretends is a taxi and gets out of the car within earshot of his wife and pretends to talk with the nonexistent cab driver, making sure his wife can hear his roleplaying. It makes the whole “Keep the change” part more amusing, and you can hear Emily giggle off screen as her husband jokes around. After approaching and chatting with the female “stranger” they have rough sex in a public place at the bus stop and then he “kidnaps” her while evading an imaginary cop, returning back to their house where they finish their lovemaking, whisper sweet nothings into each others ears, and live happily ever all lies.

    • Mr Cinnamon says:

      Yes, I played that third game after a frenzied game of Attack of the Mutant Zombie Flesh Eating Chickens From Mars and a another run play through of Mire Mare. I was especially revelatory and puissant.

    • Mr Cinnamon says:

      It was, even.

  35. invisiblejesus says:

    Sounds like this game was a lot better and more thought-provoking the first time around when it was called The Path.

  36. reginald says:

    I’ve hit “X” a bunch of times, but I still feel kind of wrong and dirty. Problem is, I knew what the game was about before going into it. I wish more articles were the “play this, then come back and tell me what you thought” variety. the first sentence in your Fight Club movie review shouldn’t be “Fightclub is a movie schizophrenic man who manifests his own role model and antagonist.”

    I completed both missions, I have a weird guilt feeling in my stomach. I’ve played 10-20 hour games without receiving that feeling. that gives Edmund some points, in my book. A game about rape should be horrible and make you feel sick. go watch the film Irreversible and you’ll see the same technique applied; when acts of human atrocity are not glorified, it affects how you view and digest the work.

  37. reginald says:

    *is a movie about

  38. Jayt says:

    How is this worse then any game where you kill innocent people?

    • TeeJay says:

      How is a boxing match different to torturing someone? How is self-defence different from pre-meditated murder? How is an apple different from an orange? How is rape different from murder? How is watching a movie different from playing a game? Why are open-ended questions about complex issues a bit lazy and pointless? What is *your* opinion (10,000 words or less).

    • Klaus says:

      In my own experience, I have been taught to be repulsed by rape in any form but understand that GTA is just a game.

      I don’t think it’s much different myself, but people are irrational things.

    • trias says:

      Totally agreed. People that have a strong repulsion to this are likely not being very consistent in their attitude towards the connection between morality and gaming. If you think that you need to apply your moral standards to your actions in gaming…well, I think you’re a bit crazy. And if you do, I think it’s absolutely ridiculous to condemn this and then go play an FPS without issue.

  39. deuterium. says:

    If you cannot differentiate between fantasy and reality in the reproduction of either graphic physical or sexual violence, then perhaps you should rethink your position towards gaming. Do I willfully, and gleefully, slaughter hundreds if not thousands in games ranging from GTA to Doom to Company of Heroes? Yes. Would I consider the same course of action in reality? Of course not, violence repulses me.

    The only facet that I have difficulty distinguishing between is not the contrast of fantasy and reality but the perceived reaction of horror between shooting someone in the head, stabbing them in the face or raping them. All grievous crimes, why then do we recoil in shock when a game offers the option of rape but barely bat an eyelid to firing upon a designated enemy? Is it the clear vulnerability, the imbalance of power and control between inflictor and victim? Or is the sexual nature offensive to our more ‘civilised’ ideals?

    I think the game is interesting precisely because of the questions it asks of the gamer relating to responsibility and control. Do you assume you have to rape the woman to proceed, or do you try anything to avoid the clear implication. Consequently, I think the game and its creator is deserving of more than instinctive revulsion, ridicule and contempt.

    • TeeJay says:

      [edit: Who] exactly “cannot differentiate between fantasy and reality”? Has anyone said they think this is “really happening”?

      People can find a photograph “disgusting” – for example a photo of someone with half heir head ripped off. Someone could paint a picture that looked very similar. A film maker could use special effects to fake up something that looks almost the same. Many people would find all of these “digusting”. It is a natural reaction to a visual representation of something that ‘looks real’.

      You can make many people feel “disgusted” by talking about (eg) smelly dog-shit while they ar eating something. It is their imagination that does this – you don’t actually have to have the real-life item with you.

      Maybe you don’t get disgusted very easily? Maybe your imagination / visualisation works in a different way?

      You don’t understand why often feel differently about different things that to you are ‘equivalent’: “shooting someone in the head, stabbing them in the face or raping them” – there are alot of things that *could* be different in each representation: how graphic it is, the context, how sadistic it is, all sorts of visual/aural/design aspects. Your lack of ‘understanding’ doesn’t mean there is no difference for many people. Maybe you need to look deeper into how other people feel rather than telling them that they are stupid/wrong for having the feelings they do have, feelings that you personally are unable to feel.

    • deuterium. says:

      That’s true, I do lack many feelings that my peers and family seem to posess. I can’t really sympathise with others and do tend to rationalise situations objectively. I wasn’t insulting those who think differently to me, I simply couldn’t understand it. Sometimes I wish I could.

    • trias says:

      “Maybe you don’t get disgusted very easily? Maybe your imagination / visualisation works in a different way?”

      If you get disgusted by rape in a game, and not disgusted by rampant and random killing in a game, I think there is a problem there.

  40. Jules says:

    I think rape might be an good topic to broach in an interactive medium that by it’s very nature is able to evoke an emotional response and offer an experience, to foster empathy. There’s stories here that can and maybe need to be told. I just think these games make a mistake by taking the perpetrator as their main persona.

    It seems to me the real story, the real moral repugnance (that games like this try to reach?) lies with the story of the victim. Not just the story of the horrific moments but also the story of that person trying to live the rest of their lives in a normal fashion with a terrible trauma. A story like that would be cold, harsh, uncomfortable to play and to identify with.

    But if it’s your goal to make a “poignant statement about rape”, that seems to me the way to go.

  41. drewski says:

    I managed to get through the civilian section twice (both endings) merely discomforted. The war section was too fiddly and frustrating to reward working through the kinks, especially given the “payoff” is essentially obvious once you’ve played the other section.

    As far as uncomfortable games go, it is one, at least for me. I’m not sure it’s more than that.

  42. Ozzie says:

    I’ve heard that “I HAVE CANDY GET IN THE VAN” is a better game than Edmund, yet has a similar theme. It’s much more serious than the title implies. But it doesn’t corner you with choices, instead it let’s you choose how all everything plays out…

  43. IvanHoeHo says:

    Just because you disagree with or dislike a game doesn’t mean you have to be such pricks about it.

    So this guy was exposed to this idea that intrigued him. most people just shrug it off, while others explore it further by writing a short story about it, or a piece music, or a play. This guy made a simple video game. And that’s it.

    What’s wrong with you people? Jesus, this must be what it is like to read the Daily Mail.

    /crazed rant

    • TeeJay says:

      Who are “you people”? Some people here approve of the game others less so. Noone here has gone on a massive rant demanding thte game is banned. In fact it looks like it’s *you* who is ranting: how about identifying the people/person/”prick”/statement you have an issue with and avoid blanket “Daily Heil” knee-jerking?

    • Nick says:

      What do you mean ‘you people’?

    • IvanHoeHo says:

      Damnit! I was hoping noone would notice my crazed rant above, since this post was so old…

      But sincce you’re all still here, here we go:

      Risingson: “So welcome to the wonderful world of gamexplotation. I suppose that the videogame version of “Savage Streets” isn’t too far.”

      1stGear: “Sorry. I’ll do every game developer’s job for them from now on and just imagine that they made a good game.”

      sana: “Pretentious deep bullshit. Right up the alley of RPS commenters who conjured up a shitstorm about some ad involving a female being slapped…”

      Joseppe: “…People have been making entertainment about rape and whatnot for years and calling it edgy, then acting like people talking about it makes it good.”

      elle: “…A guy wanted to fuck someone who was raped, obviously couldn’t broach the concept, made a game instead.”

      Lilliput King : “…Dumb, childish stuff.”

      All I’m saying is that the guy , most probably, just wanted to explore an interesting (if controversial) idea, and made a small “interactive experience” (or whatever one would call this sorta thing) in a short amount of time. Yet now there’re all these people spitting on his face, making vicious, sometimes personal insults against him like he defaced their mothers’ graves.

      Is it too much to ask for a little common courtesy/human decency on the internet? Possibly.

      Or am I just too naive? Most probably.

      Oh, and editing above post for accuracy.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      “Is it too much to ask for a little common courtesy/human decency on the internet? Possibly.

      Or am I just too naive? Most probably.”

      Yes on both counts. Though honestly, most of those comments are pretty par for the course here. The bit about the guy just wanting to fuck a rape victim is pretty awful and I’m surprised the hivemind let it stand, but that’s ultimately their call.

    • IvanHoeHo says:

      Heh, I guess that’s why I don’t quite like it when websites get popular – all the AIM and flamebaiters and spambots start flooding in like the plague. It is the same for restaurants, actually – well, Chinese ones, anyway; although for entirely different reasons.

      This conflict of interest is quite sad, though. For example, if a good Chinese-operated restaurant got famous, there’s about a 65% chance that it’ll turn to shit in 2 years, and 85% in 4. It’s nothing quite as bad for websites, though, I think.

    • Lilliput King says:

      It is dumb.

      I don’t begrudge the man his games, and I clearly don’t wish him any harm, as you suggest. But tackling a subject like this in such an immature way is pretty dang foolish, as the creator’s comments in his tigsource thread highlight.

      But then I actually thought Super Columbine Massacre RPG was a sensitive piece of work, so what do I know.

  44. corbie says:

    If you get disgusted by rape in a game, and not disgusted by rampant and random killing in a game, I think there is a problem there.

    I’m sorry the two are not directly comparable. I know that it seems really obvious that they are, but for several very good reasons they are not.
    You are socially conditioned to abhor rape from a very early age. It doesn’t have a place within society at all. It is never justified or justifiable.
    Violence on the other hand, even murder, gets a very different treatment. Sometimes, we are told, violence is permissible. To defend. To get the “bad guys”. Revenge. Violence is commonplace in all but a few films (even films supposedly for children). Children play solider games and shoot imaginary guns and they form the idea of the “bad guys” and the “good guys” in the playground. They take this to them, as role definitions in play, to their adult life. Is it any wonder we are more comfortable with violence in an interactive setting? We’ve explored this before! We know where the game ends and real life begins- we have seen so much fantasy violence that we know deep down that it is a game and as such different rules and consequences apply. Even random violence within a game such as GTA does not engage the part of us that drives our real cars into work in the morning. We know deep down that there is no morality issue killing pixels.
    Violence in sex, rape, underage sex and pedophilia are massively emotional issues that frankly most people have little to no idea how to approach. Most people don’t, outside the usual tabloid ravings and herd following nonsense that makes the news. Looking through some of the replies here really makes the point- we fear our own response, our lack of knowledge, our peer reactions. Our strongest emotions rise to the surface and we react as we are conditioned to- we are disgusted. We are repulsed. We wouldn’t want anyone to think we were otherwise.
    You have to admit that is different from a quick game of UT.
    Personally, yes you’ve guessed it, I think morally rape is wrong. I, like John and most other people here, wouldn’t be comfortable playing a game that involved actively participating in a rape. The idea makes me uneasy. I don’t get too broken up over hitting pedestrians in GTA. I am a monster. The monster I was made to be.
    I don’t think however that games like this should not be made. I wish more people had the stones to tackle issues like this to be honest.
    Oh by the way if you have played the Bioshock to the end…
    SPOILER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    …then you have been raped in a game. The scene where you confront Ryan was rape. It just didn’t involve sex.
    How did you feel about it?
    /Corb

    “your finger, you fool.”