Amazon sells another video game where you “play” sexual abuser

*Possible trigger warning*

While we haven’t been the biggest fans of Amazon as of late and their history of selling a rape simulation game (which they did end up banning), it looks like another game involving violence against women seems to have”slipped” past their radar. “Stockholm: An Exploration of True Love” is a game that allows the user to experience,

“…a terrifyingly vivid exploration of Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological condition in which a captive falls in love with her kidnapper. And you play the part of the kidnapper. With a limited number of options, you must figure out how to make her fall in love with you.”

This includes using poison gas on the victim, sexually assaulting her and using psychological abuse against her in efforts to make her “love” you. Unbelievable.
Contact Amazon and let them know that profiting off of sexual and psychological abuse is completely unacceptable.
h/t to Jennifer for the heads up.

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112 Comments

  1. Laila
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Simply fabulous. You said it perfectly. Shame I can’t stay up, but it’s late in UK. Brilliantly put – love it.

  2. elvisizer
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    i’m not sure if the dvd was pulled or what, but the amazon page says it’s not available if you check now. no links to buy it there at all.

  3. WriterGirl
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    “Playing this game or any other game where you rape and harm women does not make it more likely that that person will hurt women in RL. Just the same as playing a game where you kill someone doesn’t make it more likely that they’ll actually murder someone.”
    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I certainly don’t have a problem with this game because I think that it may cause someone to become a rapist and a kidnapper. I think that the real problem with this game (and others like it) is how it tends to contribute to an already saturated culture of rape. The fact that a major retailer like Amazon is selling a supposedly “erotic” game dedicated to sexual assault and psychological abuse just tends to normalize these acts and, thus, make them even more invisible.
    I think you’re right that “calling for the censorship of a game, book, or movie because it has violence in it does not solve any problem,” but I do think that speaking out against media like “Stockholm” may help to add visibility to the issue.
    I guess what I’m basically trying to say here is… I don’t think that this game will force someone to go out and commit rape, however that doesn’t mean that “Stockholm” can’t still be damaging in some way at least on a cultural level, if only because it contributes to a pre-existing culture of rape.

  4. float_my-fancy
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    If you search for it, the website says it is unavailable, but you can still read the reviews:
    http://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/B00282GZJ8/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

  5. Father_Time
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Should we value every ‘fetish’ as you so like to call it?? What about paedophilia? Is that a ‘fetish’? Remember ‘the line’? Of course we have to draw it. With regard to the game to which you refer; just because something has been produced doesn’t make it ok. Whilst I appreciate it’s a massive grey area, surely we can balance entertainment with respect, safety and decency?
    Another thing….Truth existed before research came along. Perhaps the appropriate research simply hasn’t been done yet.

  6. Father_Time
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry I was going to quote you but I accidentally hit submit before I had the chance.
    Anyway the idea that a mere video game can cause someone to do this (who wasn’t all ready dangerous) sounds really far-fetched to me.
    To me it says that you think people’s sense of morality is so weak that all it takes is a piece of simulated fiction to push them over the edge. I think people are much better than that.

  7. JetGirl70
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    People can have crime and violence in their entertainment and not be criminals, true. I’m a big fan of mysteries and crime procedurals, and I am not a violent person.
    However, most detective books, or tv series, are usually told from the perspective of the cop or detective chasing the violent criminal. The protagonists are on the side of good, not evil, and good tends to triumph, though often with heavy casualties. Even a show like “Dexter” is about an anti-hero bringing justice of a sort. And BTW, I have serious problems with that show generally, because I find it needlessly graphic.
    Even “Lolita,” while not a detective novel, has a protagonist who is a pedophile and ends with the two main molesters, Humbert and Quilty, in jail and dead. And even though Humbert has been defending himself all along, there is a point where he realizes the damage he has done.
    My main objections to games like Rapelay and this latest one is that you are not only encouraged to become the monster, but that there are no consequences for your actions and no lessons in empathy or civility.
    There is no option for playing the victim or another character who tries to fight the villain. And as a feminist, I find the fact that the victim is a woman and the victimizer a man to be just another patriarchal bullshit construct.
    But even if it were male victim, female monster, it is still just a masturbatory exercise in barbarity, and frankly, I don’t care if it is virtual or not, I find it deeply offensive. And I wonder what kind of person plays that without revulsion, and yes, I judge them and worry about what they may be capable of.

  8. Posted May 29, 2009 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    I don’t want to beat this into the ground, but I think it’s way past time for feminists to shift away from Amazon whether or not they are promoting/selling games like this. Amazon is putting independent bookstores out of business. Independent bookstores are primarily liberal, often radical, and are usually staffed primarily by women. They are *independent*, e.g. *not corporate.* That is more than enough to make this a feminist issue, but more importantly, independent bookstores are the ones who take risks on non-mainstream books by queer/feminist/of-color/disabled/etc authors. They are rallying points for radical thought and they are safe-spaces for people who don’t conform to the mainstream paradigm. Many indie stores go out of their way to host radical authors, and please believe me when I say that most indies are not turning a profit.
    If we continue to shop at Amazon and big box stores, all the quirky radical independent bookstores are going to be gone, then there goes your already-endangered independent presses who publish authors like Jessica. (People rant about Seal Press, but many more radical presses already gone thanks to big box stores. What will it be like when radical authors only have big corporate publishers like Random House to turn to?)
    I would like to see an actual discussion of this in feminist and radical circles. Awareness needs to be raised, especially with the economy like this, there’s going to be a lot of radical indie bookstores closing. It is unconcionable for feminists to support/promote/spend their money at Amazon.

  9. Jeanette
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    I just got an email from Amazon. They said it’s no longer being sold.

  10. curtis
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Oh yawn, Destra – seriously, get over the libertine nonsense.
    Protesting things which are obviously demented and contribute to making our society an ugly place for us to live in IS healthy free speech and makes for a better market place. To bad if it hurts the feelings of bigots who can’t help what turns them on. That’s their problem.

  11. Laurelin
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    This is the email from Amazon:
    Hello,
    Thanks for contacting Amazon.com with your concern.
    The item you referenced is no longer for sale on our site.
    Thank you again for your feedback.
    Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:
    If yes, click here:
    http://www.amazon.com/rsvp-y?c=aqxeuyeg3285463027
    If not, click here:
    http://www.amazon.com/rsvp-n?c=aqxeuyeg3285463027
    Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail.
    To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our web site.
    Best regards,
    Vignesh M.
    Amazon.com
    We’re Building Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company

  12. curtis
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks – So much posted here is so absurd. Some people have “issues” they need to defend.

  13. ghostorchid
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    You can be a troll without calling someone a name. You can be a troll, in fact, just by being obnoxious. Trolls try to get a rise out of people. I agree with plenty of what “Father Time” has said, but I found this last comment of his quite trollish. And if being called a “troll” is an attack, people, then I must practically be a mass murderer.

  14. ghostorchid
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Censorship is not “a store not selling a product because of X”. You might as well accuse your grocery store of censorship for not selling dildos. If you’re going to call people out on being video game reactionaries, at least call yourself out for being an “OMIGOD PC POLICE CENSORSHIP COMMUNISM FASCIST!” reactionary. Cripes.

  15. Father_Time
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t mean to be a troll I generally wanted a discussion over the fact that doing this will give the game more publicity (like Rapeplay, GTA and every other game people make a fuss over for being immoral or disgusting).

  16. Ruby
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    The issue I take with this kind of game is that it’s equating rape and abuse with love. The premise of the game (and apparently, the belief of the creator) is that you can actually MAKE someone love you by sexually assaulting and psychologically abusing them.
    There are plenty of movies with rape scenes in them, that I don’t find inherently offensive, because it’s clear what you’re seeing. A rape scene that isn’t inherently offensive is one that clearly portrays non-consensual sex wherre there is a perpetrator and a victim. As long as it’s realistic, and there aren’t moral and ethical boundaries being seriously blurred, then I can swallow it.
    Equating rape and abuse with love is definitely a dangerous, or at least highly irresponsible, message to be putting out there. And it’s one that I absolutely think has the potential to leave a significant impression on young minds. Whether it would contribute to someone going out an committing an act of violence, I obviously can’t definitively say that, but I wouldn’t rule it out.
    And finally, I absolutely support anyone and everyone’s freedom of speech. Asking Amazon to remove this game from their site is in no way infringing on this individuals freedom of expression. He expressed himself freely already, and now people are responding to it. People are always free to say what they want, but they also have to be willing to deal with the consequences of it. Freedom of speech means that the government cannot prohibit you from saying what you want or punish you for saying what you want (except in cases of slander or libel).

  17. Tenya
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    I would hope that the BDSM porn that is non-consensual is reconsidered as acceptable. There is a reason that the safe, sane and consensual denomination has been bandied about. While yes, there is plenty of porn that verges on or directly portrays non-consensual situations, I maintain that they should be just about as vilified as this game. Honestly, as a kinky person in general, I’m skivved out by the idea that hiding behind “but they’re paid actors! :D ” somehow negates the fact that you love, in fact are jerking off to, the image/story of a person being abused against their will. I support pornography that makes a big deal out of the “they’re adult, willing participants.” It is there.

  18. Tenya
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    I did look at the demo that someone posted and it is extremely disturbing. I agree with those saying they wouldn’t date someone owning it. I don’t know if I would be able to sit down and have a pleasant conversation with someone trying to tell me this is even a “very interesting” game. Much less that it is “cool” or “enjoyable.” And much, much less someone beating off over it. It isn’t an “exploration” or a commentary on society (way to concern troll, writer, with the bodice-rippers as “just as bad” as an excuse for producing this!) it is rape and abuse rewarded in video game form. The goal isn’t to be horrified, with the thin veil of pretending you’re not enjoying it (why else are you watching and reading it?), but the goal is to be rewarded for your depravity. Yuck.
    After looking at the “other films people enjoyed” section of Amazon, I think I may have to soak my brain in bleach.

  19. hellotwin
    Posted May 29, 2009 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    Actually, it’s not “just a fetish.” A fetish does not involve human beings as it is a non-coercive paraphilia.

  20. Rosasharn
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    I’m sure most people here would be offended by someone comparing homosexuality to pedophilia. Why is it perfectly acceptable to compare kink to pedophilia?

  21. Rosasharn
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 1:16 am | Permalink

    “The issue I take with this kind of game is that it’s equating rape and abuse with love. The premise of the game (and apparently, the belief of the creator) is that you can actually MAKE someone love you by sexually assaulting and psychologically abusing them.”
    That’s what Stockholm Syndrome is though – a victim of kidnapping and abuse falling in love with their tormentor.

  22. Rosasharn
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    So do you have a problem with kink.com that frames each video with an interview of the actors talking about what they liked and how much they will enjoy it/enjoyed it because the middle portion is (at times) pretending to be non-consensual?
    95% of my personal play is faux non-consensual and I like seeing porn that reflects that but I guess I’m just skivvy.

  23. Doug S.
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    If this were a novel instead of a video game, should Amazon.com stop selling it?
    For example:
    http://www.amazon.com/Way-Maid-Wordsworth-Classic-Erotica/dp/1853266205
    In this Victorian-era erotic novel, a man rapes a woman who ends up enjoying it and helping him rape others. Each rape ends up having the same effect on the victim: she is forced to acknowledge her deeply repressed sexual desires and becomes sexually liberated, freely choosing to participate in further sexual acts with those who raped her and assisting in the rape of others.
    So, yeah, Rape is Love and all that.

  24. rpa123
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    I won’t respond to the question you posed directly, but it is worthy to note that this novel you described is just that – a novel. Video games allow people to play an interactive role in doing the harm to innocent victims.
    I don’t think the argument that “there are plenty of games where people kill others and no one is trying to get those censored” holds much ground either. From what I’ve seen, most of those games are ones in which you’re trying to kill the “bad guys” and working on the side of the “good”.

  25. rpa123
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    Publicity, yes. But why is that a bad thing? This is not positive publicity. I highly doubt that other games such as RapePlay etc have experienced an increase in sales from this negative attention. I could be wrong but I don’t think games which are being criticized as “immoral” or “disgusting” tend to generate more fans.

  26. Clix
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Has this guy got his head SO far up in his issues that he hasn’t heard of ‘chick lit’? Because “Ross-and-Rachel” style romances are incredibly popular, more so than kidnap/rape novels. (At least judging by publication & sales.)
    Yurgh. This gives me the willies.

  27. Clix
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Not necessarily. I’d say the novel has important historical value – I’d be curious to know how well it originally sold. The Victorians have a rep for having been very stuffy and proper.
    However, this video game is current, rather than historic, and I don’t want it to be a sign of our times!

  28. Pantheon
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    I don’t like Grand Theft Auto much, but its very popular and as I understand it you play a criminal of some sort, and you do things like steal cars and beat up prostitutes. So its definitely not true that most popular video games have you playing on the side of good. (I think there have also been some popular star wars games where you can be darth vader and/or start out good and go over to the dark side)

  29. Honeybee
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Looks like amazon banned this game!! Good job to everyone who wrote in.

  30. lal46
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    I hit like when I meant to hit reply. That was an accident.
    Demanding “evidence” that rape survivors are triggered by rape culture = privilege.

  31. sirkowski
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Comic books should be banned too. Especially those horror and crime comics from EC. We should create some kind of “comic code” to protect the children. I’m sure that’ll work out great…

  32. Siby
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    First of all, getting an item off of a website isn’t the same as banning it. Second of all, horror comics are definitely equivalent to telling people that rape=true love! Totally!

  33. Siby
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    They emailed me back saying that they removed the item from their website. :)

  34. Naught
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Can we stop saying that consumers pressuring a business to not sell a product is the same as violating the right to free speech? Disgusting as it is, I would have a problem with the government banning it, but not with Amazon refusing to sell it. The first amendment in the US (and similar principles in most other countries) are about what the government can do – not about what businesses can refuse to sell.

  35. Father_Time
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    what rape culture? Ah whatever demanding evidence that something that is clearly fiction will cause people to commit real life acts of violence is not ‘privlidge’ (don’t see how that’s even relevant). People have been flaming fiction for real life violence for decades and time and time the evidence supporting their claims has been very poor. So excuse me for skepticism.

  36. Father_Time
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    It’s not that hard to picture with increased publicity more people hear about it and the odss that someone who’s interested hearing about it goes up. Also sometimes it just generates sales (or pirated copies) as people see what the fuss is about.
    It’s somewhat of a forbidden fruit effect.

  37. Kate
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Yes, its now a 404 not found.

  38. hellotwin
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    “What rape culture?”
    The one that we live in, that likes to objectify and sexualize women and tell men that they can have sex whenever and with whoever they want, no matter if they consent or not. Movies, video games, songs, pornography, advertising (one of many examples, here, http://www.skrause.org/writing/talk/20070315.php) all contribute to this culture, as do victim blaming and many other things.

  39. rustyspoons
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, that byline bothered me too. “True Love” my ass. At least “Rapelay” called it what it was.

  40. ShifterCat
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Can fictional media cause someone to do something they wouldn’t be inclined to do otherwise? No.
    Can fictional media influence a person’s opinion about how the real world works? Yes.
    Consider the “24 effect”: you have people, including Dick Cheney, arguing that torture is both effective and justified as an information-gathering device using “ticking time-bomb” as an excuse! Completely ignoring, of course, just how much author fiat was required to make that fictional situation seem plausible in the first place.
    Maybe if rape were taken more seriously, we wouldn’t have rape kits collecting dust in police stations across North America. Maybe the conviction rate wouldn’t be so low. Maybe rape would happen less often in the first place.
    The media we consume isn’t morally neutral. When we find something morally problematic, we should say why, and do our best to be heard by a wide audience. Should we petition governments to ban objectionable material? No — but Amazon is not a government entity. It is a popular online merchant, and as such can serve as a bellwether.

  41. Gopher
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    This is sick. What next; games created by nazi’s, kkk that show whites killing black people/non-whites? Or is THAT offensive, just not rape? Fucking sick.

  42. Gopher
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    Right. I see that as just a historical marker of how fucked up men were towards women and sex back then. A woman would never do that out of ‘repressed sexual impulses,’ as rape and sex are not the same. If anything, she’s probably trying to recapture the power that was taken from her by her rapist. Its very sad.

  43. ShifterCat
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    Ah, I just thought of a few other examples of fictional media affecting popular opinion:
    “The CSI effect”: a lot of jurors now are convinced that forensic evidence is quick to obtain and test, and that it is always conclusive and dramatically damning (or exonerating).
    Years before that, juries sometimes had to have it explained to them that witnesses very rarely break down and make sudden, shocking confessions right there on the stand — unlike what they saw every week on Perry Mason.
    One scientist/movie reviewer whose site I love to read has noted that some of her employers have failed to understand the importance of repeating an experiment; they ask, “Can’t you just do it the once?” She compares this to science in the movies, which almost never show experiments being tested for repeatability.

  44. Junjinji
    Posted May 31, 2009 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I’d like to start this comment by saying that an interactive DVD is NOT a video game. It is in no way affiliated or associated with the video game industry or it’s respective content rating system, the ESRB.
    The aforementioned game “Rapelay” is a PC software video game. IT IS a video game, though it’s an underground Japanese game that was being sold on Amazon by a third party company.
    I repeat, an interactive DVD, no matter HOW interactive, is NOT A VIDEO GAME. It may be a gray area between a simple video and a video game, but it’s still not a video game.
    Now then. The Stockholm disc in question, what can you really say here at this site? Is it honestly all that different than the site selling a book depicting graphic rape at the hands of a sadistic captor that enjoys such things? Would that be any more acceptable, simply because it’s less interactive?
    What’s happening here is sickening. A watchdog group has taken it upon themselves to boycott and see to the flat out removal of a product simply because they do not believe in it, or the message it conveys. This coming of course strictly based on what has been read about said product, as I’m seriously doubting a single person filing a complaint against the product has personally tested it. Correct me if I’m wrong there.
    By all rights and standards, am I not in the right to boycott and file for removal of the Holy Bible from Amazon, because I do not believe in it’s teachings and what is therein printed. Not to mention I also do not agree with the overall message the book speaks of. Would that make me wrong for requesting a boycott and removal of this product?
    Consider that. Think outside the box. Learn that the world is not seen through one viewpoint. Your definition is not always the correct definition, no matter what is in question.
    I will counter by saying that yes, this is an indirect violation of free speech. You cannot petition for the removal of every piece of media that goes against your grain. It may be detrimental in your eyes, but your eyes are not the only ones taking in the whole.

  45. Gopher
    Posted May 31, 2009 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Idiotic! You dont keep something negative just because it would garner attention. Thats stupid. I also highly doubt its that popular that customers would really know it was gone. If it is than it would already be garnering attention. And how is it bad if it garners attention anyways? This would be a good opening to talk en mass how prevalent rape is and society’s tolerance of it. I’m earning a double major in marketing/PR and I guarantee you that you have no clue what the hell youre talking about.
    I concur: you are a troll

  46. Mina
    Posted May 31, 2009 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    “…However, most detective books, or tv series, are usually told from the perspective of the cop or detective chasing the violent criminal. The protagonists are on the side of good, not evil, and good tends to triumph, though often with heavy casualties…”
    Exactly! Not all portrayals of violence and hate glorify it…

  47. Mina
    Posted May 31, 2009 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    “By all rights and standards, am I not in the right to boycott and file for removal of the Holy Bible from Amazon, because I do not believe in it’s teachings and what is therein printed. Not to mention I also do not agree with the overall message the book speaks of. Would that make me wrong for requesting a boycott and removal of this product?”
    Make you wrong? Not at all. Such speech of yours definitely wouldn’t be censorship, even if the boycott succeeded, because Amazon.com isn’t the only way the media is available.

  48. jjgirl23
    Posted May 31, 2009 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    argh i know eh. I don’t believe it actually takes this long to get them down.

  49. Noniberryjuice
    Posted May 31, 2009 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    When are we going to see games that both explore these themes and give the victims the power to control what happens to the offender–rather than romanticizing these themes and manipulating the virtual victims?
    I guess stuff like that wouldn’t sell…

  50. Lynne C.
    Posted May 31, 2009 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    “Anyway the idea that a mere video game can cause someone to do this (who wasn’t all ready dangerous) sounds really far-fetched to me.”
    If one is a fully grown adult, and already has their values, morality, and sexual preferences set in place(meaning their minds are also fully developed, particularly the pre-frontal cortex), well then, yes, I might agree with you.
    HOWEVER, for a young person just going through puberty, and coming across something like this, it can and does heavily influenced their thoughts. Whatever they are experiencing in their life, whatever they interpret from what they see and hear becomes intertwined with their developing sexuality, and crystalizes in their minds. Whatever the result, it is something that will stay with them as they grow in some form or another, unless someone responsible enough can intervene soon enough. This is heavily prevalent among children whose parents have no real role in their life, and are left to their own devices. There is a psychological term for this, but it is eluding me at the moment. All of these people who say that television, pornography, and media do not effect people in any way (especially children, or adolescents) are simply ignorant, I’m sorry.
    Ever heard of classical conditioning? What about fashion? Even people who can’t be bothered with it almost certainly adhere to it to a point don’t they? Are they not influenced at all? My God, I wouldn’t dare go to the store in my pajamas, no one does that.
    Take a tween boy who hangs around older boys who watch violent porn all the time, and treat it like it’s cool, and you have a little boy who is going to be conditioned to crave sexual violence, especially if he is learning to get aroused by it.
    It is a parent’s responsibility to get Amazon to either put a maturity filter on their porn games, or develop another section for them entirely. Simple.

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