Saturday, November 07, 2009

Japanese rape games invade Indian computers

If you are worried about the effect of violent computer games on your child, here's a shocker: sex games with graphic visuals, including those which test the player's 'raping skills', are making their way here, mostly from Japan.

Rapelay, a 3D game created by a Japanese firm, Illusion, with a storyline' prodding the player to rape a woman and her two teenaged daughters in a moving train, a park and a restroom, is among the hot picks' in the grey market. A source involved in direct marketing of foreign goods with suppliers in Chennai's Parrys and Burma Bazaar markets told TOI that he sold 20 copies of Rapelay last week to customers who had placed orders in advance and that 50 more copies are expected in a fortnight. The game is available in grey markets in other metros too including Palika Bazaar in Delhi, he added.

These are mostly pirated copies made from an original smuggled in from Japan or ordered through online shopping websites earlier. Several websites like had removed Rapelay from its virtual shelves after protests in July.

Gamers say several such hentai (Japanese porn) games are also available on the net and can be downloaded on to mobile phones as well. "Young people addicted to these games may start seeing violence as an integral part of sex. While films make children emulate characters, such games where the player is the character can make them act it out," warns sexologist D Narayana Reddy.

The authorities appear to be either oblivious to the danger or just helpless. The central crime branch police said it has not come across such games during its raids. The Computer Emergency Reaction Team (Cert-In) of the IT ministry, which has the mandate to ensure cyber safety, says its focus is elsewhere. "Our primary job is to prevent cyber crimes that threaten the national security. When such offensive websites are hosted in other countries, there is little we can do," says Cert-In senior director BJ Srinath.

This puts the onus on families to install parental control software to block access to such sites from computers and playstations, say counsellors.

It all started with a pop-up. Gautham Rao, a Class XI student in Hyderabad was surfing the net last October when the window showed a beautiful woman and prompted him to 'dress her up' using a variety of attires displayed on the screen. Rao spent hours dressing her, and later, undressing her. A list of similar sites took him down a dark virtual tunnel lined with bizarre games, where the player takes scores of avatars to undress and grope women of all ages, profiles and ethnicities. It took a few months before Rao's parents discovered the boy's horrible pastime and got him counselled by an expert.

A year later, the internet is today littered with games that allow players not just to undress and grope women characters, but to tie them up, torture and rape them. While violent sex games are getting more real with 3D animation and special effects, the authorities seem to be either ignorant or helpless. "We have not come across any such game CDs during our raids," says C Sridhar, superintendent of police, central crime branch. What he does not say is that the police, while seizing CDs of pirated movies and porn films, seldom look for game CDs.

Cyber Society of India, which works in the area of internet security, is also yet to study the matter in detail. "We are an NGO with no criminal jurisdiction. We mostly deal with online credit card frauds and cyber crime, but now we think we need to look at online safety from the angle of such offensive games too. In fact, this was in the agenda of a meeting of the society on October 23," says society secretary V Rajendran, who adds that the new IT Act which came into effect on October 27 has empowered the Computer Emergency Reaction Team- India (Cert-In) under the IT ministry to monitor and block offensive content.

However, Cert-In says it does not have the resources to monitor and block the scores of websites that offer rape and other violent games. "Only if there is a specific complaint about, say child pornography, can we step in," says a senior official. "We are aware of websites with violent sex as content accessible from India, but it is technically unfeasible to block all these sites. When the servers of these websites are situated outside the country, we cannot do much. Pursuing cases against offenders is also a long-winding process."

That puts the onus on parents. Says Bhavani K Raman, founder of, an online community of mothers that discusses internet safety: "Parents must be aware that many phones and gaming consoles like PSP and playstations have built-in wireless access. So it is wise to install parental control software to restrict access." The control software allows you to block certain sites or make only some sites accessible for children and tells you the sites visited and the duration.

Another concern is about browsing centres making all kinds of websites accessible to children. Despite guidelines issued by the police, net cafes do not run an age check on visitors nor do they have firewalls. "The most important thing," Raman says, "is to create awareness in the child. Talk to your child about the danger and downside of using these games and sites. An informed child is a safe child."

Advisory for parents
* Use Parental control software that helps you select the sites your child can visit and set duration
* Use kid safe browsers like Kidzui and Kidrocket
* Search engines have settings which exclude adult material from search results.
* Upgrade your browser as the latest versions have better security settings
* Keep the computer in a place where everyone could see the monitor
* In the computer, create one account for each child without administrative privileges
* Check browser history after your kid used the computer
* Monitor their computer usage in browsing centres which are becoming hot spots for gaming and adult material
* Talk to your child about the danger of using adult sites.

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