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Thoughts on Mafia 2's Rape Scene

Posted on 30th Aug 2010 at 10:14 by Joe Martin with 39 comments

Joe Martin
It happens in the prison showers, when Vito is told to do some cleaning and is left alone with some nasty men who express a desire to do nasty things to him. Vito wants none of this, which is consistent with his character, so he puts up a fight. Five or six punches later, it fades to black and Vito moves calmly on to the next scene.

There’s nothing terribly wrong with the event when it happens that way; it’s a little flat, perhaps, but that’s it. What bothers me more though is what happens if you don’t manage to fight the bullies off. Namely, nothing; you get a game over sequence and then have to restart the fight. Vito doesn’t actually get raped, no matter what you do.

To be clear, I don’t want Vito to get raped, but I do think that if you’re going to have a rape scene like that in your game then you should provide for all outcomes. Especially since Mafia 2 often lets you fail missions without consequence. You might be told to deliver X parcels in Y minutes, ending in a cutscene where you’re teased for poor driving if you don’t manage it. There’s no game over if you fail to impress the Don, so why should there be one if you’re defending against rapists?

Thoughts on Mafia 2's Rape Scene
Click to enlarge

Without wanting to get too far off topic, I personally buy into the ‘Games are art’ argument on occasion and therefore it’s acceptable for games to feature controversial events. Rape is a difficult, uncomfortable and nasty subject, but if fits into the context of the game and is handled maturely there’s no reason not to deal with it. Murder is horrible too, but the whole game is built around that.

Point being; it’s not the same thing as Rapelay, which is obviously abhorrent and an entirely different discussion.

I maintain that if you’re going to approach topics like rape in a game then you should commit to them fully or not at all, especially if the possibility of failure is built into your game elsewhere. Ostensibly, if Vito was defeated in the showers then the game could have just faded to black and moved on in the same way it did if he won.

Thoughts on Mafia 2's Rape Scene
Click to enlarge

At the end of the day, for not committing to the topic in a mature way Mafia 2 ends up worse off. I was left wondering if it wouldn’t be better to cut that entire section from the game, along with the rest of the deplorably dull prison chapter.

I know it’s a loathed example in the bit-tech community, but this was one thing I loved about Modern Warfare 2’s No Russian level. It didn’t consign that important story element to a cutscene, it pulled it into the gameplay and then committed to it by letting you execute unarmed civilians. You didn’t have to, but you could. In my opinion 2K should have done a similar thing with Mafia 2’s rape level – you don’t have to surrender, but if you do then the intended rape doesn’t suddenly become a rape-murder. That, or not bothered with it at all.

39 Comments

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Bauul 30th August 2010, 11:25 Quote
I've not played the game, so I can only hypothethise, but I presume if your character had been raped, it wouldn't have affected the outcome of the game as a whole (as in, the story could still have continued?)

In which case, whether you won or lost should have progressed onto the next scene, but if you lost there was a nice custom 'painful walk' animation to go with it.
SoulLance 30th August 2010, 11:34 Quote
So in a game that dropped the 4 different endings has half of the content cut out (future DLC milking) Joe's big problem is why didn't Vito get rapped?

Mafia 2 pretty much dropped it's status as a sandbox game when it went the over simplify rate. So pretty much freedom of choice and movement when out the window from the start.
It's not a movie drama with a masterpiece script it's just an overhyped and mediocre game compared to the first one.

Yeah....I do blame the lack of complexity on it being a console port.
erratum1 30th August 2010, 12:20 Quote
In the game the character fights off the rapists so if you don't then you've failed and have to start again, seems fine to me. You just wanted to see some graphical man loving.
LeMaltor 30th August 2010, 12:44 Quote
The story is crap anyway, the whole prison section should of been cut from the game.
DarkBanana 30th August 2010, 12:49 Quote
You actually bring up an interesting point. Logically, you would think that murder would be worse than rape, but from a society view, it's seems to be the other way around...
CardJoe 30th August 2010, 12:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMaltor
The story is crap anyway, the whole prison section should of been cut from the game.

True.
LeMaltor 30th August 2010, 13:06 Quote
When you think of the mob, you think protection rackets, and robbing places, trucks, banks, other mob gangs, betting etc everything. None of this seems to make it into the story though, not a lot happens during the missions.

You get made, and then you and joe in a cut scene are seen living the life, cars, women, beating ppl up and it ends with you buying the house that was in the demo. Yet I never worked for any of that. It's the same with the drug dealing, it's a cut scene.

I don't feel I know the characters besides vito, joe and henry. I couldn't tell you want the mob family names are, or who I work for and who besides the chinese are my enemy. It feels a very half arsed unfinished game tbh.
cool_dude 30th August 2010, 13:08 Quote
meh I always esc-enter the scenes anyway :p
Xir 30th August 2010, 13:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeMaltor
When you think of the mob, you think protection rackets, and robbing places, trucks, banks, other mob gangs, betting etc everything. None of this seems to make it into the story though, not a lot happens during the missions.

Welll, if you don't get to steal and sell cars in GTA (not a lot anyway), why'd you expect a mobster to behave like...well...the mob? :D

It's a looooong winter coming, GTAIV, Red Dead Redemption, Mafia II...might as well build a sandbox in my livingroom :D
UrbanMarine 30th August 2010, 15:30 Quote
If things weren't so PC, you would of got your rape scene.
logan'srun 30th August 2010, 16:20 Quote
you mean if it was MAC would be rapists?
docodine 30th August 2010, 16:48 Quote
Just watch American History X each time you get to that scene, problem solved.
Gunsmith 30th August 2010, 17:59 Quote
plot annoyed me so I went and watched goodfellas again after I was done with it. TBH im kinda wishing I hadnt bought it and instead spent the money on RUSE.
DragunovHUN 30th August 2010, 18:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoulLance
overhyped and mediocre game compared to the first one.

You've got to be kidding me. I'm playing the first one right now (never done it before) and the story of it is incredibly dull. Drive here, get ambushed, kill 20 people in a firefight made incredibly frustrating by the AI, drive home. So far the only story part of the story was the deal with Frank and even that was unusually lame.

Only reason i keep going with it is i want to see why Angelo gets whacked in the sequel even though the frame of the story makes that quite obvious.
The Toy 30th August 2010, 18:33 Quote
"Point being; it’s not the same thing as Rapelay, which is obviously abhorrent and an entirely different discussion. "

I don't see why you even bring this up if you are just going to jump to an apparently "obvious" conclusion that it is abhorrent and then quickly move on.

You just gave a random opinion!

Anyway, I agree with every other point in this post. I think if you hold up this half hearted vacuous title to the light and take away the nice graphical sheen, it is a very poor game with a very poor story let down, as you say, by its arbitrary comprimises to the integrity of the story. A shallow experience for sure.
Bakes 30th August 2010, 18:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Toy
"Point being; it’s not the same thing as Rapelay, which is obviously abhorrent and an entirely different discussion. "

I don't see why you even bring this up if you are just going to jump to an apparently "obvious" conclusion that it is abhorrent and then quickly move on.

You just gave a random opinion!

You trying to say that a game that focuses around raping cartoon women is not abhorrent?
CardJoe 30th August 2010, 19:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Toy
"Point being; it’s not the same thing as Rapelay, which is obviously abhorrent and an entirely different discussion. "

I don't see why you even bring this up if you are just going to jump to an apparently "obvious" conclusion that it is abhorrent and then quickly move on.

You just gave a random opinion!

I was anticipating "OMG YOU THINK RAPE IS GOOD IN GAMEZ!>"
The Toy 30th August 2010, 20:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bakes
You trying to say that a game that focuses around raping cartoon women is not abhorrent?

Yes.
Guinevere 30th August 2010, 23:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Toy
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bakes
You trying to say that a game that focuses around raping cartoon women is not abhorrent?

Yes.

Of course it's abhorrent, as any decent person would agree. I find it odd that anyone would choose to defend such a title.

There is no defence for such titles (Legal or moral).
The Toy 31st August 2010, 01:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
Of course it's abhorrent, as any decent person would agree. I find it odd that anyone would choose to defend such a title.

There is no defence for such titles (Legal or moral).

There are many arguments in defence of such titles, but they are for another day and another thread.
Mentai 31st August 2010, 08:01 Quote
"There is no defence for such titles (Legal or moral)."

Debatable, but that aside, I honestly see no reason that Joe's enjoyment of Postal 2 is any less obviously abhorrent than someone else enjoying Rapelay. General morals would agree, a sadistic killer receives more jail time than a molester, but there is a strange double standard when it comes to media.

On topic, I agree with Joe to an extent... though I can see having your character get raped because you don't have adequate gaming skills as being upsetting to enough players that excluding it was probably wise from a business sense.
CardJoe 31st August 2010, 10:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mentai
"There is no defence for such titles (Legal or moral)."

Debatable, but that aside, I honestly see no reason that Joe's enjoyment of Postal 2 is any less obviously abhorrent than someone else enjoying Rapelay. General morals would agree, a sadistic killer receives more jail time than a molester, but there is a strange double standard when it comes to media

Hmm. You make an interesting point. I suppose part of the issue is that games like Rapelay are done in such a way as to be as realistic as possible (or realistic to the fantasies, anyway) and deal with something that is considered to be further outside the social norms. Most games are about killing, so it normalises that idea compared to rape in games somewhat.

It's worth mentioning that Postal 2 is clearly intended as black humour too. It's not an incredibly good one and is shot full of holes, but at the end of the day there is a certain level of humour to shoving a cat on your gun as a silencer. The same isn't true of simulated rape and groping. It's also easier to draw a line between the two - to find the detachment between real life and play.

I'd also think there's a degree of meta-judgement built into the games too, which is part of an issue. When you do something evil in Postal 2 then you know that you're doing something evil because of in-game actions. Locals will turn on you, police will hunt you - the game makes an implied judgement that you are evil and makes you aware of your demonisation. It's pretty clear in Postal 2 that you are playing a bad man.

In games like Rapelay however, that isn't true. The rapist is presented as sympathetic and normal to a degree, able to get away with what he's doing. It minimises that demonisation and, while victims do resist, that's really the whole point and therefore becomes a good thing to players.

With my own personal reactions to Postal 2 however, I make it clear that I loathe the game and recognise it as terrible. The fact that it's a bit moreish and occasionally fun is almost an entirely different topic. I recognise the in-game actions as abhorrent and I don't play it because I like that (in fact, I haven't played in at least five or six years). I play it for the reasons outlined in that post, which are totally distinct.

Mafia 2's fault isn't simply that it brooks the topic of rape and it certainly isn't that it doesn't approach the subject in an immature way, it's just that it could have explored the topic in greater detail and yet chose not to.
Da_Rude_Baboon 31st August 2010, 10:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Toy
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bakes
You trying to say that a game that focuses around raping cartoon women is not abhorrent?

Yes.

Of course it's abhorrent, as any decent person would agree. I find it odd that anyone would choose to defend such a title.

There is no defence for such titles (Legal or moral).

It shows you how desensitised we have become to murder and death in computer games. We do not seem to even raise an eyebrow at 'murder simulators' (to quote the media) but we find a 'rape simulator' so disturbing.
pbryanw 31st August 2010, 12:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Da_Rude_Baboon

It shows you how desensitised we have become to murder and death in computer games. We do not seem to even raise an eyebrow at 'murder simulators' (to quote the media) but we find a 'rape simulator' so disturbing.
Presumably because man has been killing man since time immemorial. And we see it reported on TV every night of the week. I don't think it's just in computer games were we've become desensitised to murder and death.
tad2008 31st August 2010, 14:04 Quote
It's not a game I have played or am likely to, but how do you know Vito gets raped? Do those other criminals tell him that's what they are going to do to him? Is there some mention of it later?

If he is raped then giving you a game over is just bad form, if it turns out he is killed, then I could accept the game being over. At least in a game we usually have some say in to how those actions are carried out or some way to deal with or handle them in our own way.

This isn't the first game to given more exposure due to the content, with the recent political outcry because of terrorism being included in a game, people really should remember that these are games, which are rated appropriately for their audience.

Unlike TV where the various soap shows that even younger viewers can get to watch and they can approach subjects like rape, murder etc.
Xir 31st August 2010, 14:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by pbryanw
Presumably because man has been killing man since time immemorial.
...and rape is something invented 10-15 years ago... no wait
Yama 31st August 2010, 15:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe

In games like Rapelay however, that isn't true. The rapist is presented as sympathetic and normal to a degree, able to get away with what he's doing. It minimises that demonisation and, while victims do resist, that's really the whole point and therefore becomes a good thing to players.

You don't get away with it, the girl kills you - and there's alternative ending.

Now that's black humour!
uz1_l0v3r 31st August 2010, 15:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Da_Rude_Baboon


It shows you how desensitised we have become to murder and death in computer games. We do not seem to even raise an eyebrow at 'murder simulators' (to quote the media) but we find a 'rape simulator' so disturbing.

There are lots of games where people are killed, but most often these are war sims like COD etc. Even in GTA or Mafia, it's "honourable" killing between criminals. I can't think of many games where you get to control a sadistic serial killer. And don't say Splatterhouse, because Jason Voorhees isn't real.
pbryanw 31st August 2010, 16:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xir
...and rape is something invented 10-15 years ago... no wait
Quote:
Originally Posted by pbryanw
Presumably because man has been raping man since time immemorial.
Fixed. :)
Xir 31st August 2010, 16:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by uz1_l0v3r
Even in GTA or Mafia, it's "honourable" killing between criminals. I can't think of many games where you get to control a sadistic serial killer.
You never hit a passerby in GTA...right
or 5, or 20, or tried how many you can run over before the cop-choppers get you. Who else? *raiseshand*
Quote:
Originally Posted by pbryanw View Post
Presumably because man has been raping man since time immemorial.
And sometimes, presumably by mistake, the occasional wo-man...thus ensuring the proliferation of the species. :D
pbryanw 31st August 2010, 16:47 Quote
*deleted
thehippoz 31st August 2010, 19:15 Quote
it's probably because it's a console game.. there was no soap or tuna fish sandwiches strapped to any asses either- oh well :)
Nexxo 31st August 2010, 20:44 Quote
I have a bunch of problems with the reasoning in this article. First, we need to establish who the audience of the game is, and what is its purpose.

Modern Warfare 2 aims to give you a fair approximation of the war experience, with all its horror and dubious morality. You can shoot innocent civilians... will you? Similarly, Medal of Honour has a graphic scenes straight from films like Saving Private Ryan which convey the message that real war is definitely not a game. That is the purpose of those games: to give you the sense of a realistic experience.

Kingpin was a (dis)organised crime game that courted controversy (there is no such thing as bad press) by showing violence in gory detail, but it was also a consciously stylised depiction of crime and violence, like for instance the film Sin City was. GTA and Mafia (2) are similarly caricatures of organised crime, not unlike Miami Vice of the 80's. Real organised crime does not look like that. You are playing a game, a fantasy: the Bad Guy in the film (who gets all the best lines, the best chicks and the best cars --unless he is the guest villain in a Batman movie).

But a game does not have to be realistic to teach you something. Tale of Tales' The Path is pretty surreal, and there is definitely some unpleasant stuff happening to young girls, but it is not gratuitous --there is a message in there. It has a purpose.

So realistic or fantasy, you have to ask yourself what purpose a graphic rape or murder scene has in a game. As I said before, in Modern Warfare 2 the purpose is arguably to allow people to experience by proxy what war is really about and to make people reflect on it, and their choices and actions in it. In Kingpin it seemed to be mainly a selling point; there is no learning from it, no reflection on it, no consequences. In The Path the apparent purpose seems to be to steer the main character, a young girl, straight into a situation where she will get harmed or violated. But it doesn't get gory or graphic and for all its surreality there are realistic consequences. There is a story being told.

There is a consensus in the movie industry that the sex scene in Don't Look Now is possibly the most beautiful scene of its kind ever filmed. This is because although explicit, it is not gratuitously graphic and it has a central point to make to the story line. The sex does not depersonalise the characters; it makes the viewer experience them, and their fragile reconnection after the death of their child, as more real. Similarly the violation that happens to the girls in The Path makes you empathise with them as they learn life's harsh lessons. The experience of Modern Warfare 2 feels more real because you are put in the position of making moral choices.

Should there be a rape scene in Mafia 2? Only if there is a point being made. Organised crime is not glamorous; it is nasty, seedy and dangerous. If you are going to include a rape scene, let's include the violence and intimidation: the killing of innocent civilians as they cry and plead for their lives, the torture and cold execution of the competition (you get to wield the razor and blow torch yourself!). And of course all the random violence and death done onto your character. There will be no chicks and no cars --most people in organised crime never make it past the grunt stage.

But then I suspect most people won't think it's fun any more.
robots 1st September 2010, 10:21 Quote
I don't get all the negativity. I thought the prison part was brilliant, both in terms of the story and the progression of time, and that it allowed you to meet new characters and learn how to fight properly. As for the shower scene I don't think any of what you said is necessary. It was menacing enough to have that fat f*** come at you. I kicked his ass first time and moved on. I don't think there needed to be anything else.
Xir 2nd September 2010, 13:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
If you are going to include a rape scene, let's include the violence and intimidation: the killing of innocent civilians as they cry and plead for their lives, the torture and cold execution of the competition (you get to wield the razor and blow torch yourself!). And of course all the random violence and death done onto your character.

Woohoo! Write it to Rockstar! :D

Wait, wasn't all this in "Bully"?
Darkedge 2nd September 2010, 18:30 Quote
Thanks for the massive spoiler, hasn't been out a week and you have that headline on the front page?
Sorry but thats crap and stupid - could've had a slightly less obvious headline, like "Mafia 2 prison shower scene"?
thehippoz 2nd September 2010, 20:14 Quote
or 'don't drop the soap in mafia 2'

joe needs an animated gif of vito dropping the soap and a fat guy sweet in the pants coming in from behind
sethnmalice 6th September 2010, 10:48 Quote
wasnt really a rape scene....it should have been explicite...why would 4 guys go one on one with vito....i dont think so, 3 to pin him down and one to have fun...but it was pointless being there in the first place. Most of the game is pointless....Graphics are stunning though...and after youve finished the game you cant keep on playing....how do i get a million dollars?
kenco_uk 6th September 2010, 13:59 Quote
Hang on a minute.. you mean I wasn't supposed to finish him off?
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