Exhibit A, this photo of me using Playstation VR last year, looking like a new age electronic artist I have dubbed DJ Project Morpheus.
Much has been said about the potential of VR technology, not just for video games but for education, tourism, scientific endeavours and much more. One of the much mores is for adult entertainment, and while I try to keep an open mind regarding that sort of thing, a new PSVR game mode coming to Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 crosses a line.
That line being the one where sexual activity becomes sexual assault.
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is the second sequel to Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, and was released exclusively in Asian territories earlier this year. Japanese gaming news site Gamer uploaded a video of the new VR mode to YouTube, which shows one of Dead or Alive’s female characters standing on a beach clad in a bikini, where the person playing begins prodding her butt and breasts with these weird, silver alien spaceship things. After a couple of prods, the woman reacts by stepping away and covering her chest, before she stands neutral again and the player starts rubbing their face in her chest.
Here’s the video, in all its disturbing glory.
Now I’m not here to say that VR enabled interactive pornography is a bad thing. VR porn videos have been around for a while, and add a new dimension for those who want it. And I acknowledge that sexual taboos are different between Japanese and Western society. So while I might think the Adult VR Festival held in Japan earlier this year with all the people simulating sex with animated characters is a little weird, I believe if you’re into that then go for it, you do you. It’s not my business and you aren’t hurting anybody.
But this new mode in Xtreme 3 crosses an international divide, because from what I can tell, although it could change in the course of development, it seems to be all about touching a woman despite her clear lack of consent, and that’s fucked up. We’ve talked before about sexism and objectification in video games, but this goes one step further and presents this woman as a literal object to physically harass for the player’s enjoyment.
Of course, players perform morally objectionable acts in video games all the time, the most common being violence and killing. The difference here is society acknowledges killing is wrong, but we still have a huge issue with understanding sexual consent, and Xtreme 3’s VR mode seems to not only be simulating someone expressing their lack of consent, but encouraging players to ignore it.
What a time to be alive, right?