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Video Gaming Company Accused Of Promoting Sexual Violence, Abuse, Rape

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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  • During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the National Center for Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is focusing on the video gaming platform Steam.
  • NCOSE accused Steam of promoting video games that include sexual violence and normalize sexual abuse of others.
  • “When video games include sexually graphic and degrading themes, the user is not only a voyeur but an active participant in staging the scene. Steam should immediately change its policies to stop hosting such sexually explicit material,” Executive Director of NCOSE Dawn Hawkins said in a statement.

The National Center for Sexual Exploitation accused the popular video gaming company Steam of allowing video games that promote sexual violence, including rape.

Steam, a digital distribution platform for video games, allegedly allows multiple games on the platform portraying sexual violence, according to the National Center for Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), including “Mirror,” “Love Vibe: Aria,” “My Servant and the Stranger Astensia” and “House Party.” The platform has more than 90 million active users and 1 billion registered users and is increasingly popular in China.

The video gaming platform has not responded to multiple requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation. The platform made a June 2018 decision to allow all types of games except for ones that are “illegal, or straight up trolling.”

“If we allow your game onto the Store, it does not mean we approve or agree with anything you’re trying to say with it,” Steam said in a June 2018 statement. “If you’re a developer of offensive games, this isn’t us siding with you against all the people you’re offending. There will be people throughout the Steam community who hate your games, and hope you fail to find an audience, and there will be people here at Valve who feel exactly the same way.”

It continued: “However, offending someone shouldn’t take away your game’s voice. We believe you should be able to express yourself like everyone else, and to find others who want to play your game. But that’s it.”

NCOSE maintains that “Mirror” depicts rape scenes and “even has a meter to measure the amount of pain and discomfort being inflicted by the player,” that “My Servant and the Stranger Astensia” promotes rape scenes and sexual harassment, and that “House Party” contains nudity, sex via intoxication, blackmail and deception. Steam has reportedly updated “House Party” to censor nudity, NCOSE added.

“Parents need to know that these games normalize the sexual use, and often abuse, of others. When video games include sexually graphic and degrading themes, the user is not only a voyeur but an active participant in staging the scene. Steam should immediately change its policies to stop hosting such sexually explicit material,” Executive Director of NCOSE Dawn Hawkins said in a statement exclusively provided to the DCNF.

Hawkins added: “To make matters worse, since Steam implemented an ‘anything goes’ policy with few exceptions, sexually exploitative games on Steam have skyrocketed, going from just over 700 games tagged for the keyword nudity in 2017 to now 3,911 in 2020.”

Steam states on the platform’s website that “Mirror” “may contain content not appropriate for all ages, or may not be appropriate for viewing at work: Nudity or Sexual Content, General Mature Content,” that content posted in the “My Servant and the Stranger Astensia” community may contain “Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Violence, or Gore,” and that “House Party” contains “adult themes and content that may not be suitable for all ages,” including “nudity, strong language, alcohol and drug use, sex, and mild violence.” “Love Vibe: Aria” is tagged as mature and flagged for nudity and sexual content.

“Steam currently hosts and allows video games that portray rape scenes and therefore gamify sexual violence, a socially irresponsible policy in a society reeling with consequences of sexual assault and exploitation,” said Hawkins.

“Rape is not a game,” Hawkins noted, and said addressing alleged sexual violence on Steam’s platform is especially important during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Parents should be especially aware of what video games their children should be playing during quarantines and extended periods of time on the internet, she said.

NCOSE has published a “Dirty Dozen” list since 2013 to “to name and shame the mainstream players in America that perpetuate sexual exploitation — whether that be through pornography, prostitution, sexual objectification, sexual violence and/or sex trafficking.”

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