This Disturbing Game Lets Players Sexually Assault Women

Video games have long been derided for their blatant sexism and objectification of female characters. But a new virtual-reality game from PlayStation VR takes an already horrifying genre in disturbing new directions.

Dead or Alive XTreme 3, which will launch for virtual-reality headsets in Asia this fall, takes viewers to various Paradise modes. One scene from this so-called Paradise was posted to YouTube. In the scene, a player takes a probe-like object and uses it to touch a bikini-clad woman on a beach. The player is controlled by a man wearing a VR headset. When he touches the woman, she protests, but he continues his efforts despite her objections, Engadget reports.

The idea of a male player groping a female in a game is disturbing, but the game's added physics and realism make it even more uncomfortable — it's letting the player commit sexual assault.

For those who say "it's just a game," that is far from the truth. Studies have shown that letting men play violent video games has an effect on how they feel about women in real life. A study published earlier this year in the journal PLOS One found that men playing games where women are treated with violence feel less empathy for female victims of violence in real life — the same was not true of women who played those games. Researchers have also found evidence that playing video games increases aggression. This, combined with a lack of empathy towards women, is scary, to say the least.

These results are from studies where players used handheld controls to play a game. What happens when those players are now in a virtual universe that has been created to feel as real as it possibly can? The results cannot be good or safe for anyone, least of all women.

So no, it is not just a game. It is something that has very real repercussions for how women are viewed and treated worldwide. Putting female characters in these roles perpetuates horrifying stereotypes, portrays women as sexual objects, and makes something that is scarily real — sexual assault — seem like it's just play.

Anyone who plays Dead or Alive XTreme 3 should perhaps try a different VR experience, Perspective; Chapter 1: The Party. The film, shown at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, takes viewers (who watch while wearing virtual-reality headsets) into a frat party. They can choose to see a sexual assault as it occurs from the perspective of the female survivor or the male perpetrator. Maybe viewing from the woman's standpoint would help players — and developers — begin to grasp just dangerous their "game" is.

We've reached out to the creators of Dead or Alive XTreme3 for comment and will update this piece as soon as we hear back.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you are experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224 for confidential support.

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