A Rape in Cyberspace

The Beginning of an Idea

One of my readings in class for this week was Julian Dibbell’s “A Rape in Cyberspace.”  Reading this makes me think back to the advent of cyberspace and the naivety that some people may have come onto the web with.  The community described had rules that were overseen by moderators until the moderators got fed up with people complaining about… well… moderators.  Normally when I write these blog posts my general levity and  ability to make a joke about nearly anything is displayed whole-heartedly.  Not today. (Note: Some things in this article are joke prone, and I apologize for the breaks in seriousness.  Blame Cracked.com for my inability to understand decorum.  None-the-less, this is a serious issue)

In the essay Julian writes that the only people that could possibly act as Mr. Bungle did were noobs who did not know that even though it is online, there are still rules of civility that if you break will leave you as a social outcaste,  Or, there is the second:

“Only with time and the acquisition of a fixed character do players tend to make the critical passage from anonymity to pseudonymity, developing the concern for their character’s reputation that marks the attainment of virtual adulthood.  But while Mr. Bungle hadn’t been around as long as most MOOers, he’d been around long enough to leave his newbie status behind, and his delusional statement therefore placed him among the second type: the sociopath.”

And, yes, there is a sociopathic lean that goes into violently controlling and raping the people of any world you inhabit, whether in real life or in a virtual life.  The need to fulfill some strange fantasy–if one could consider it a fantasy–on the people you interact with daily, no matter virtual, is sociopathic.  What makes the virtual idea of it even worse is something that has been clear within the Internet for quite some time: people will do and say the most  horrible things existing in their personalities on the internet because there is a sense of anonymity.  This sense that it is not real, that they have no face, no physical embodiment to be punished or feel the consequences, gives people the feeling that they have the right to do anything.  While the Mr. Bungle case is one thing–a text based MOO–this is something that has continued on and has grown ever more violent within the virtual world.

Before moving away from “A Rape in Cyberspace,” I want to bring up the people possibly responsible for the Mr. Bungle incident, as explained by Dibbell:

“I would still have to learn this lesson many times over, of course.  I’d learn it again when on the eve of  my immersion in VR two separate and credible sources revealed to me that the virtual psychosis of Mr. Bungle had been even starker than anyone guessed: that the Bungle account had been the more or less communal property of an entire NYU dorm floor, that the young man at the keyboard on the evening of the rape had acted not alone but surrounded by fellow students calling out suggestions and encouragement, that conceivably none of those people were speaking for Bungle when he showed up in emmeline’s room to answer for the crime, that Dr. Jest himself, thought commonly to have reincarnated the whole Bungle and nothing but the Bungle, in fact embodied just one member of the original mob–just one scattered piece of a self more irreparably fragmented than any RL multiple personality could ever fear to be.”

 The lesson to be learned there: yes, one person on the internet can be horrible… give a mob anonymity, and the ability to do anything, and you get the rape described in Dibbell’s essay.  Even if Mr. Jest was one person, the implications of what a large group of people can imagine to do in cyber space is made amazingly clear.  And, yes, it has gotten worse.  Some want rape simulators, because rape only makes sense when playing in a post apocalyptic world.

I’ll get to that in a moment.

Before that, I want to explain how we thought we made so many great strides while making baby steps and pretending they were great strides, because reasons.

The Rape of Lara Croft

Do you know Lara Croft?  From “Tomb Raider?”

She was once the poster woman of the Sony Playstation and was glorified for her Indiana Jonesesque exploits in being a Ph.D. in archaeology who can fight thieves and untombed dinosaurs with this grand advertising campaign:

Indiana Josie and the Pussycats


And then this happened for some reason:



And then after two decades someone had the idea of making Lara Croft look like a real person:

Lara Croft wears clothes????


That image comes from the more recent “Rise of the Tomb Raider.”  Back in 2013, Crystal Dynamics went for a simple reboot of the series titled none other than “Tomb Raider.”  While people cheered for a new version of the game, they were met with the controversy of their favored protagonist being put into a situation that the internet quickly called rape.

(Tomb raider rape scene video)

While there is no rape there to be spoken of, there is the implication, and it was this implication that had the Internet at arms; and a lot of those arms were aimed at the fact that it was not rape and that a woman being man-handled while being caressed by an enemy who compares her to his sister was just something that people do.

What happened here was that the game’s executive producer Ron Rosenberg told one of the biggest online forums in gaming, Kotaku, that these enemies were definitely trying to rape her.  The developing company, Crystal Dynamics completely refuted this.  And it is kind of true in the fact that the player has control over how that scenario plays out.  If you do nothing, the creepy guy with a sister fetish simply chokes and murders Lara Croft (or just renders her unconscious to do… other things).  Even though that is the case, there is something odd about the entire situation.

The first, and only one I will cover here, is why an EXECUTIVE PRODUCER found it necessary to say that she was going to be raped (there are other implications, but those are for another time).  Was there something behind this rape?  Was there a story element that would build from this rape?  Did an EXECUTIVE PRODUCER simply think that the controversy of a famed female game protagonist being raped would drum up sales and publicity?…. yes… yes… that is, most likely, what totally, absolutely, probably happened.

While the developers may have just seen it as a way to introduce a creepy, make you want to kill him, bad guy who you can then, in the same scene, shoot his dick off, an EXECUTIVE PRODUCER saw, “Let’s push the rape angle.  Let’s make a character who in the 90s we made get out of a pool and say, ‘Now I better take off these wet clothes,’ who we also had pose naked in all of her pixilated nakedness for advertisements (considering her job is to kill thieves and shoot dinosaurs), who we almost destroyed by associating her with Angelina Jolie (and associating Angelina Jolie with creepy naked Tomb Raider advertising), who we are now actually trying to humanize as an actual human woman, let’s have her be put in the most victimizing state a woman could imagine, because rape sells.”  This is exactly what I imagine Ron Rosenberg had in mind.

What can be implied by that entire situation is one thing.  Many people were outraged.  Many fought against the idea that she was going to be raped.  It seemed like people were standing up for Ms. Croft, as they should.  But there still remains a very strange thing going on, the phenomenon that I originally connected to when reading “A Rape in Cyberspace.”  The Internet + Anonymity + Mobs (will eventually) = Rape.  I read Dibbell’s essay, and the simplicity of what happened made me think about why it seemed so simple to me, and I instantly remembered this…

The Problem


“DayZ” started as a mod of the game “ARMA,” which is an intense and highly realistic military simulation (as in, it’s difficult to play like being in the military is difficult).  DayZ took this game and changed it into an online experience for people to live out the zombie apocalypse (because if America needs more of anything, it’s crap involving zombies).  While I had been informed about this MMO, I played it for a bit before reducing my Give an F to about 20% because the people who play this game, don’t want to fight zombies… they want to fight other… things.  I was reintroduced to the fact that “DayZ” exists when one of my usual gaming sites led me to this video:

(taking out the trash)

Yeah… that was an attempted “rape.”  Luckily, brooms are dangerous weapons, and that woman knows what she’s doing.

Something became clear within “DayZ.” the gameplay no longer centered around players vs. zombies, but rather players vs. players.  This change resulted in theft, murder, and eventually wanted to result in rape.

Take this Reddit post as an example, and all the other comments from this Reddit post I’m about to post.

“What I’m saying is that since this is a post-apocalyptic world, we should be able to rape, it will give us better immersion into a situation in which rape is not necessary at all.  Yes, we should go find food or more ammo for our guns to kill zombies, but rape will be part of our lives should the zombies take over. Like I said in my post, it’s the cruel manifestation of man vs. man, or more like, man’s violent sexual dominance over woman, it’s so simple…. but, once again… as I said in my post, please respond respectfully to my totally bullshit idea.” — Jack MeHoff



So… because the atmosphere and setting of the game is right for it, rape should obviously be involved?  Forget that it is based on basic survival–food and what not–rape is absolutely what would be necessary within this setting.  Not, I don’t know, maybe finding a man or woman you connect with within this dystopian setting of a post-apocalyptic world.  Rape, only rape, that’s the only way you get it on.

Thankfully, someone agrees with me:

Someone knows the deal!



“I’m still a good guy because I don’t want it.  But if I can’t call the girl who turned me down a slut, then I at least need something to fall back on” — Ivana Hugenkiss


“Let it happen, it might stop, or might not stop, or might stop, but might not stop real rapists…. either way, we should rape people in this game.” — That Guy You Knew In Highschool Who Was Totally Really Nice But You Never Wanted To Date Because He Was Such A Good Friend


“Fuck the guy quoted above.  I wait for women to get raped so that I can save them and be the hero they take home to bone.  I also believe a game about killing zombies should totally let you rape someone’s sweet virtual ass…… so that I can save them, of course.” — Donald Trump








Sorry, I forgot I was supposed to be writing.

Let’s take a look at this video:


Aurandra plays it pretty cool during this event.  She knows she’s live streaming on Twitch, and the people you hear her talking to are people who want to come and save her, but she doesn’t bother.  The idiots abducting her are hurting her, yet keeping her alive so that she won’t die and respawn somewhere else.  She is, in a way, at their mercy.  At the mercy of a group all playing out their little fantasies, Mr. Bungle.  Listen to the one guy “jokingly” say that she can’t be mad at him because he’s a “sociopath.”  Let’s all make light of actual mental inabilities!  This is a group of people in solidarity making a plan to restrain a woman and harass her… but, as the person in the post above says, “That’s just DayZ! It’s what we do!”


It’s what you do.

The justifications for your rape fantasy are always invalid.


The fact that a community that was started as a way to survive and kill zombies together has become the “Let’s Rape People Because We Should Be Able To” community is a disgusting idea.

These players made the game into what it is, the game was not started for that reason.

Rape is not inherent in zombie survival, you just want it to be.

Admit what you’re doing.

A Rape in Cyberspace

One thought on “A Rape in Cyberspace

  1. Cynthia Davidson says:

    This is really well-argued. Bravo!
    Many games have a role-playing mode that allows people to go and do whatever they want. If people agree ahead of time to role play using a modification or not, that is to me an entirely different situation than coercing a player who clearly does not want to be used in that way–that to my mind is quite bordering on the sociopathic, yes. In Aurandra’s video, the comments are even worse than the video itself.
    On the other hand, I’m quite sure they LOVED the attention they got on this feed…I’d be interested to know what Aurandra’s long-term strategy was in dealing with this group. Did she keep filming because she wanted to expose them? Did she continue to play with them?
    But that is outside of the overall argument you made here which is powerful: there is no need to bother anyone with the argument that rape is inherent, or necessary, in any of these kinds of games.
    The Lara Croft scene is pretty amazing (the realism of that game in the latest version is wild) and artfully done. I like how you traced the evolution of association that players may have made with various aspects of Lara’s persona over the years.


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