Valve Corporation who runs the video game distribution platform Steam as well as a game developer for Half-Life, [easyazon_link identifier=”B00004TJCL” locale=”US” tag=”boundingintocomics-20″]Counter-Strike[/easyazon_link], and others has come under scrutiny from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE) for its recent release of an uncensored adult game called Negligee: Love Stories.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation describes itself as “the leading national organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health crisis of pornography.”
Developer Dharker Studios describes the game as “an adult mature game.” Due to the nature of the game, the game developer reported it has been restricted in 28 countries including Pakistan, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Belarus, Iceland, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China, Sudan, Russia, Australia, Germany, Indonesia and others.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation released a statement from Dawn Hawkins, the Executive Director of NCSE, who specifically targets Valve and it’s distribution platform Steam for allowing the game to be distributed:
“Steam is willfully contributing to the cultural objectification of women with this game. It normalizes the idea that men have the right to control and abuse women according to their will, something that ought to be socially unacceptable particularly in this #MeToo era.”
She would add:
“Steam’s lack of effective content filtering results in easy access to extremely graphic content by 35 million minors who regularly use Steam. These types of games also train undeveloped minds to normalize sexual objectification and use of women. We are calling on Steam to reconsider the types of content they allow on their platform to protect users from degrading and harmful content.”
The NCSE has also added Steam to their 2018 Dirty Dozen List, where they issue a number of recommendations for Steam and Valve to make. These recommendations include the removal of the game House Party. The introduction of an 18+ category on its website that would encompass any game that has nudity or sexual content. They would want this 18+ category disabled by default with an extensive opt-in to view it. They claim this will prevent children from being automatically exposed to the content. They also call for “ore robust policy enforcement against selling games that normalize or glamorize sexual exploitation in the future, no matter the age of the user.”
As you can tell this isn’t the first time the National Center on Sexual Exploitation has put Steam and Valve in their sights. The organization had also targeted them over the distribution of the game House Party. In fact, the organization appears to have gotten Steam to pull the game from their platform in order to censor its content.
Hawkins speaking to Life Site News would liken the raunchy comedy to pornography. In fact, Hawkins would claim it was training players in “predatory tactics.”
“The House Party ‘hook up’ game is literally training its users in predatory tactics for sexual assault, and even sex trafficking, which plague real, living people offline in high schools, universities, military bases, and more. The game includes disturbing features that allow users to increase their odds of ‘having sex’ with a woman in the game if they manipulate and coerce women into sex acts. Different game scenarios include blackmail using nude pictures, increasing women’s alcohol consumption, impersonating a friend through text, and jamming a woman’s cell phone reception to isolate her in a room away from other party goers. Users ‘win’ the game by having sex with women at the party. The sexual encounters are blatant animated pornography, featuring genitalia, ejaculation, and more.”
Once Steam worked with the game developer and censored the game it was available again on the distribution platform. Valve would also implement two new forms of filtering Mature Content and Adults Only. The Adults Only filter specifically allows you to “filter out games that feature explicit sexual content.”
What’s really interesting about Dawn Hawkins and the NCSE’s statements regarding Steam’s distribution practices is they are promoting scare tactics that have been thoroughly rebutted or at the very least called into question because of the lack of evidence. As with activists in the past, they point to the myth of video games making people more violent and aggressive.
Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson, who holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, as well as a M.S. in developmental psychology, authored a report that found no links between “pornography availability causing an increase in the incidence of rape.” In fact, he notes, “One could even argue that the available research and self-reported and official statistics might provide evidence for the reverse effect; the increasing availability of pornography appears to be associated with a decline in rape.”
And a study by researchers at the University of York “found no evidence to support the theory that video games make players more violent.”
Erik Cain at Forbes also puts a huge hole in the NCSE’s outdated theory, stating:
“Real violence and video game violence are not the same thing. The vast majority of people who play video games do not commit violent crimes or engage in violent acts. If they did, the 70 million copies of GTAV that have been sold globally would have thrust the world into chaos.”
If video games and violence were really going hand and hand then why isn’t the United States looking like Mad Max right now? Video game use is at an all time high, but crime is way down. In fact, the Washington Post claimed 2017 was about to have the lowest crime rate since 1990.
So all in all, the claims by groups like The National Center on Sexual Exploitation about video games don’t really have any evidence to support them. Given the statements from Hawkins and the NSCE it appears they merely want to control people’s behaviors.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation is acting as if access to adult only content is easy as pie. The reality is, it isn’t so. Valve for their part made sure there was a multiple step process in place. The first filter involves a general age-appropriate content that requires you to input your age. Then another filter that hides violence and gore, and finally the last filter for strong sexually charged games. And to access these games you have to be logged into your steam account. All of these filters are set in place by default and cannot be avoided. At the end of the day, Steam has done an impressive job to make sure there is a multi-step process in place before you can even search for these games.
Do you believe that The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has a point? Or is this a case of another group trying to use political power to censor another group?