Members of British Parliament are working on a white paper for forthcoming legislation that will hold social media platforms responsible for the content they host. This legislation will not be limited to just social media platforms, but video game distribution services like Steam as well.
According Bristol Live, they’re reporting that during the Commons debate on March 8th, 2019, Bristol MP Thangam Debbonaire wants stricter regulation on what even gets made in the realm of gaming, stating that there are currently no regulations in place to prevent developers from making another game like Rape Day, and that there need to be measures in place to ensure no game like that is capable of being sold anywhere, stating…
“While the Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright speaks about new legislation to tackle abusive content on social media, games like Rape Day show that more needs to be done to ensure gaming platforms are also governed by stricter rules.
“Thankfully Rape Day has been withdrawn by the distributors. But it is shocking that a misogynistic game like this was even considered by developers, let alone produced by teams of skilled programmers.
“Worse still, there is nothing in law to stop another company producing a similar ‘game’ in the future.”
Rape Day was pulled from Steam after media outlets broadcast the game into the general public, using it as leverage to force Valve to reevaluate their curation process to prevent certain kinds of games from appearing on Steam.
The media made sure to get the attention of publishers and politicians, in order to pressure Valve into submitting to their ideological standards on curation. Valve ceded to the public pressure once politicians threatened regulation, and they banned Rape Day from Steam.
However, that wasn’t enough.
Scottish and British politicians are now calling for stricter regulation, and in the case of MP Debbonaire, there are now calls to prevent such games from even being made, where she states…
“Millions of women in the UK face sexual violence and abuse throughout their lives. Turning rape into a game risks making this situation worse.
“As we have seen from social media, abuse and hate online can often translate into abuse in the real world.”
So far there are no studies indicating that violent media or sexual media translates into real-world violence. The most recent Oxford study indicated that violent media has no ill effects on adolescents, and another study covering sex roles in media indicated that sexualized imagery of female in video games did not lead to sexist attitudes in real life.
Nevertheless, politicians have been galvanized through the Rape Day controversy to seek stricter regulation of media. U.K., politicians in particular want Steam to become more regulated, with an oversight on what gets allowed on the platform and what doesn’t.
Digital culture secretary Jeremy Wright explained that the next White Paper will seek to include video game distribution platforms in the scope of increased regulation of social media services, saying…
“I believe it is not what a company calls itself that matters, but what it does.
“What we will seek to do in the White Paper and anything that follows it is make sure that we can tackle the harms we define as in scope of that White Paper, wherever they may lie on the internet.”
This sentiment gained concurring support from the Scottish National Party member Hannah Bardell, who also felt as if games like Rape Day should not exist or be made available anywhere on any platforms, stating…
“A game of this nature has no place in our society. I’m glad it’s been pulled by gaming site Steam, but their statement was woeful, it did not even accept or acknowledge the risk it could pose.
“At a time when one in five women will experience sexual violence in their lives, will he work with me and others to launch a review into how this game even got to development and approval stage and make sure that it appears on no other platforms?”
Regarding the one and five rape statistics… that is false.
The “one in five women” talking point was shopped around by politicians and activist pundits based on numbers pulled from a Justice Department survey, which was noted to contain misleading wording, as reported by the Washington Examiner.
The statistic gained widespread reiteration after former President Barack Obama used it during a speech, which made it seem like a fact, but as pointed out by Forbes the figures relate to an overly broad interpretation of the terminology and is not accurate.
Even CNN had to acknowledge that those numbers are not accurate.
What’s scary is that politicians are now using these figures and a poor grasp of the interactive entertainment media landscape to call for regulation on digital distribution. Based on the statements of the politicisn it seems as if the wheels are already greased, and it’s just a matter of seeing how invasive the regulation might be, and what sort of impact it could have on the industry at large.
(Thanks for the news tip Lyle)