A tabletop RPG game book called Tournament Of Rapists went on sale recently at DriveThruRPG.com and it wasn't long before the controversy began. The game blurb describes the plot as:
The Tournament of Rapists details the sadistic Rape Pure Fight circuit, expanding on what you’ve seen already and introducing dangerous new sexual predators. This sadistic bloodsport takes place in abandoned office buildings and atop Tokyo rooftops. An assortment of superhumanly powerful and inhumanly misogynistic men, and even worse women, step into impromptu fighting arenas, killing and raping the weaker in search of a multi-billion yen fight purse provided by a half-oni billionaire in thrall to dark impulses.
Reactions ranged from disgust to outrage to flat-out confusion. Some argued that creating a game around rape trivialized the act, Cara Mia C. tweeted that the creators were “gamifying rape” and the books are "complicit in fostering attitudes of entitlement to another person’s body and the use of coercion and force to get what’s ‘due to you’ for walking a woman home or some sh*t.”
Blogger Andrea Ritsu tweeted about Tournament Of Rapists, "As for the game itself, the 'competitive' nature is what disgusts me the most I guess." Of course, rape fantasy in games is nothing new Andrea continues, "...at least most rape fantasy games I've seen/heard of prior has at least not treated it like fu*king sport."
Finding themselves in the eye of the storm, DTRPG wasn't exactly quick to respond on social media to the many demands for an explanation over why they would carry such a product. When they finally broke their silence, it was only to advise via Twitter that that the game had been recategorized as adult content and would now only be viewable and available for sale to customers over 18. The response left many gamers shocked at the poor way in which they seemed to be handling the situation but DTRPG responded they were "monitoring the situation" and "discussing the matter internally."
As for DTRPG's "adult" categorization, in reality, it only prevented anyone without an account from viewing the material. I was able to create a new account, check a little box that said I was over 18 and wanted to view adult content and without any further verification, I was able to view the item and add it to my cart for purchase. So, DTRPG's "adult filter" isn't really very effective.
Meanwhile, RPG developers like Exploding Rogue were taking a much more decisive stance, pulling their entire catalogue of games from DriveThruRPG. In a statement on their website, Exploding Rogue said:
Effective immediately, Exploding Rogue Studios has suspended sales of all of its titles via DriveThruRPG. A game was released to DriveThru called Tournament of Rapists. It is a horrendous title for a product that makes the RPG industy less inclusive and welcoming. In fact, it is openly hostile to everything we feel RPGs should represent or stand for.
DriveThruRPG has not pulled the title, and has responded extremely poorly to the situation.
This suspension of sale is indefinite. We are working to get our own sales portal active immediately. If you agree with our choice of action on this matter, please let DriveThruRPG know.
The owner of the game's publisher, Scortched 'Urf Studios, only identifying himself by his first name, "Mark," said in a statement:
What I think most people don't realize is that the participants in these tournaments are the *BAD GUYS* that the PC's are supposed to kill! Most of the "stat blocks" are for monsters/creatures for the PC's to fight! I mean, people are up-in-arms about the TITLE of the book, can you imagine fleshing out the main bad guy who actually puts these things on so your party of good guys can go dismantle the entire organization and kill the Half-deamon Billionaire industrialist who runs it? Now *THAT* is a bad guy worth fighting in my opinion.
The problem with this defense lies in the fact that no where in the blurb does the studio make this distinction. And even if it had, does that make the premise any less revolting? "Mark" goes on to talk about the "shock value" in the title and how the creator, Chris Field, is "playing 'The Internet' like a cheap fiddle because the same, few predictable people that seem to be outraged by *everything* will continue to insist that something on the internet they don't like *must* be destroyed. And now people are talking about his titles and contacting me to ask about them," a statement that seems to only reinforce the act of trivializing rape as an entertainment medium.
But I must say, in part, "Mark" is absolutely correct, the same rights that protect his ability to publish his game are the same ones that give us the right to publish this article and for everyone else to voice their outrage over the internet. Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending the game in any way, shape or form. In a time when women in gaming are regularly threatened with rape, swatting, doxxing and a slew of other horrific crimes, you have to wonder at the overall sanity and intelligence of anyone who would provide a platform to sell a game like this, much less create the game itself.
Creator, Chris Field of Otherverse Games said in a blog post, "Well, I expected some push-back for posting Tournament of Rapists yesterday, and I was not disappointed. Because I wrote a sourcebook about rapists and sexual predators, I'm by definition a misogynist and potential rapist myself. Of course I am." I reached out to Chris for further comment and as of the publication of this article, had no response.
In a series of tweets late Sunday afternoon, DTRPG announced, "We spoke to the publisher and they have decided to withdraw the title from sale. If they choose to republish it we have asked but not demanded that they consider some changes to the title. A more detailed blog post from our CEo [SIC] is forthcoming after the weekend and staff being out of office. Additionally, in the upcoming blog post we will be detailing a more specific policy and guidelines on Adult content and our filters."
Whether the website only asked for the game to be removed as a temporary appeasement is unclear. It does seem DTRPG is receptive to Scortched 'Urf republishing the game to their site with or without any changes.
We'll keep you updated on this story as it continues to evolve and the conversation continues.
What do you think of a game like Tournament Of Rapists? Was DTRPG correct to ask the game be removed from their store? Should they have never given it a platform for sale in the first place? Or do you think they made a mistake bending to the demands of the offended public? Leave us a comment below so we can chat!