I originally posted this in the Friday Free Talk. The length and subject matter made me reconsider a new topic as more appropriate.
I am currently playing through a stash of Nintendo DS imports. Most of them are complete trash. Kusoge worth playing only for the cringe factor. Unfortunately, I wound up feeling more than secondhand embarrassment after witnessing a gross scene in a cheap dating simulator. The experience left me dispirited and full of questions.
The particularly offensive game was Rosario + Vampire: Tanabata's Miss Yokai Academy, a DS dating sim that IIRC never got shipped over to the states. The premise is typical of the genre. You play as an average high school teen that accidentally transferred to a monster academy. As the Main Character™, you also happen to be surrounded by a group of magical ladies all vying for a chance to get into your pants. Cue hijinks! Totally relatable, right? The ick factor going into this game was off the charts. Nevertheless, I am a sucker for cute pixel art and, I will admit, am somewhat of a pervert. Sorry, raddle!
I had to drop the game not even an hour in. There was a scene early on where the older-jerk-male-rival character snuck in a butt squeeze on the childhood-bestfriend-love-interest character. The jerk was promptly smacked. The scene then continued, though not before kawaii UWU noises and a blush from a teen girl that was just assaulted. Yuck. I can deal with cheesecake in anime, but I draw the line at normalizing sexual assault.
I suppose one can argue this sort of affront is to be expected from a niche game specifically aimed at horny, lonely men, but I have dropped more mainstream titles like Valkyria Chronicles 4 and Persona 5 for similar reasons. VC4 even has the exact same scene, an unwanted ass grab, played out for laughs. I have tried raising a stink with my fellow nerds to no avail. No one seems to give a shit. These games and their disgusting portrayal of women and sexuality will keep on being peddled. These games will keep on being bought. These ideas will keep on being disseminated, and accepted as normal. An entire industry revolves around women as objects. Cheers for anime.
I have been told I make a big deal out of the innocuous. I am told a single scene from a shit game has no bearing on real life. Playing through yet another ass grab transported me back to a couple weeks ago, when I was touched without consent at a friend's gathering. I felt completely violated. Like the games, my situation was laughed off as harmless fun. The perpetrator got told off, I made my fucking UWU grown man kawaii noises, and the world moved on.
I am finding myself increasingly alienated from fandoms and the communities they foster. I cannot abide by grope loving fools, even if we share an affinity for anime and gaming. There might be something to what ziq wrote about communities, that these groups themselves inevitably become a source of pernicious relationships, ironically prompting further alienation. I was assaulted at my most vulnerable, because I thought myself safe amongst "friends."
I loved Mortal Kombat as a child. I did not turn into a spine-ripping mass murderer as an adult. I do wonder how much influence this barrage of "problematic" media has on adults that would otherwise consider themselves well-adjusted. How many dating sims does a person have to play to think themselves deserving of a grope? I grow so tired of this normalized cultural tripe, that tells people they are not culpable for both the act and looking the other way. I wonder if I too am to blame; I shrink away instead of standing up. I find casting aside friends and the games we share easier than continually confronting the toxic narratives espoused by both.
Left with more questions than answers, I move on to the next game. Here's hoping this Mega Man Battle Network/ Starforce crossover game has less focus on unwanted sexual advances and more focus on fun.
tl;dr: Gamer is 5,000 years too late in discovering shit games are indeed shit.