Sexual Violence in Gaming

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I’m working on a game based on Action movies and Adventure stories. I’ve included a “rating” mechanic to set player expectations since violence is the bread and butter of the genre. When I got to the R section it became clear that I needed to explicitly address Sexual Violence. I don’t use it in my games and try not to use it in the stories I tell. I’m not a survivor but if I can create worlds without it I damn well will. There’s plenty of other darkness in the human soul to use in stories without including that most intimate of violence. However, if I do include it, I don’t want to do so in a cavalier way as I know far too many people who have gone through it and want to respect the reality of their lives even if what I do is write fiction.

I’ve included a version of the section below, not just for use in my upcoming project, but because it should hold water for any tabletop game or LARP.

Sexual Violence

Action movies are replete with violence in all its myriad forms. Violence is used so often in this genre that it’s best to think of it as a kind of language. In that metaphor Sexual Violence lives in the same space as the worst obscenities. In film it often gets used for the same purpose: to shock and titillate. In gaming it’s far more problematic. The statistics on people who have suffered through sexual violence are horrific. The chances that someone at your table is a survivor are depressingly high. In film, because it’s passive entertainment, the audience might not relive their horrors when they see it on screen. In a tabletop game your players are actually inhabiting their characters and that changes everything. You, as the GM, need to take special care when you decide to use Sexual Violence in your game. It’s safest to not use it at all, especially on screen, but an argument can be made that it is as valid a violent language as any other or that stories which feature it are worth telling. If you feel that there’s value to be had in using Sexual Violence in your game TALK TO YOUR PLAYERS BEFORE USING IT.

Seriously.

This is super important and I’m sorry if it’s kind of a downer but holy hell just talk to your players about it and set up expectations ahead of time. You’ll be glad you did and if any of your players say no to the concept respect it and don’t use Sexual Violence in your game.

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