Edmund is a game by Paul Greasley, winner of the TIGforums Adult/Educational Competition. I’m not sure how I should feel about this after playing through it. It’s disgusting. The real question is whether it’s disingeniously horrible or horrible with reason to its source material. Ok, before I get carried away with a debate on the nature of games and maturity, go play the damn thing first if you give a crap about me spoiling it. The only way to properly talk about this is to be spoiltastic. You won’t feel good after playing it, let me assure you.
Back? Ok, for those that played it you might have found Edmund is a game where you beat, then rape defenceless women! Yayh! Isn’t that fun? From a cold perspective, Edmund is a slightly fiddly…no wait, wrong wording. Edmund is a mildly finicky platformer where jumping is a little off but sound enough, though you may get annoyed in the Vietnam section jumping over mines (tip: shoot the grass to clearly see them – Helpful Ed Ed). There are multiple endings, the creator thankfully included at least one option to get back in the taxi and not fufill the despicable act. But to get to them you need to replay the game, and the intentional emptyness of the two levels only works for the first playthrough; more than once and it’s dull to repeat. That is if you find yourself even wanting to give this game more than one try. I do applaud the visual direction though, it’s rather stylish and sets a perfect ambience. There’s the review, I give it 5021 out of 3259235 Police Reports. Done.
Now, the tricky subject about whether a game about rape is right or not. Though I think everbody agrees rape is wrong, there are those that come down either ferociously supporting the right for rape to be used in an interactive medium and those who just as ferociously say it’s pushing the boat too far. Then we all get into a faff about the definition of art despite its relativism to the beholder. And I get annoyed that the name of the guy in the game raping people is Ed.
What you do is shocking. Getting out of the taxi and beating an innocent woman at the bus shelter, slapping her as she crawls away from you till she stays still (not dead – Clarification Ed Ed). You press attack again and the scene focuses in on Edmund raping her submissive form. In the vietnam section you shoot dead a man and then do the same as with the bus shelter lady with his widow. For a game to have impact with a risque source material like rape I accept that the scene needs to be violent, shocking even. A fade out would be probably cushioning the blow too much.
So ok, BAD = RAPE. This game has brought nothing new to the table on that. You’ve driven the point home by making me play something I didn’t want to and viewing something I wasn’t particular fond of as well. The view in the civilian level post-rape then switches to Michael the taxi driver, an old man with a pistol. The Bruce Willis in Sin City. A memorable post I read in the forum for this game tells of one guy getting his girlfriend to play this, who didn’t understand what was going on till he pointed out to her that the girl was getting raped. She was then filled with a burning desire for revenge to hunt down and shoot Edmund.
After hunting down Eddie (not me – Avoiding Mixups Ed Ed) you have a choice of shooting him or the captured girl. Cool choice! Shoot the girl and Edmund drives off into the night to carry on getting his non-consensual freak on, shoot him and Michael falls down dead too. Shock Horror! You were the Rapist all along! Alter-Egos! Dark Story! What a Twist!
I’ve been semi-flippant up to this point in the article, to try and get over the fact how uncomfortable I am with rape in a video game. It happened to an ex-girlfriend of mine when she was younger, and it was an experience she’s never fully recovered from. Even though me and her have long since parted ways, seeing how it affected her created a sense of injustice about rape that does burn in me still. Like Judge Dredd in a skinny white English body. But I’m trying to justify this game under a narrative convention, whether rape is used to a good effect in this dark context or callously exploited. So many people have squawked on that violence is used all the time in video games so why not rape, to which others reply that violence is cartoonish and impersonal between two sides that have resolved to do it. The counter point to that is that such parody versions of violence are not always so in media, sometimes you play or experience things from a killer’s perspective picking on somebody innocent. So why not rape, huh?
I don’t think it’s ever something that you can rationalise been for or against without been hypocritical. In GTA most of us have probably picked up a prostitute out of curiousity, and then beaten them up to get your money back. That makes me a sick fuck probably, and I felt guilty afterwards. I’ve had my car bumped by civilians in the game and just shot them out of annoyance. Does that make it right? Why don’t I feel the same disgust I did playing this game? GTA is a cartoonish sandbox which you commit a few dark acts as part of a dark satire on life. I feel bad, but they’re part of the game and the social commentary. Listen to those conversations and look at the people ingame; those civilians are grotesque parodys. Even though you wouldn’t murder someone in real life, you feel more at ease in venting a little towards something you naturally feel angry urges towards, whereas I can’t say I’ve ever had the urge to rape somebody. Chat them up, get to know a bit about who they are then do a happy dance inside them? Yes. Grab them, beat them then stick my one inch warrior inside against their will? No.
Edmund then. It’s not much, but it’s certainly more of a game than “The Path” or “The Graveyard“. Which is a pretty damn key point that many arty indie devs keep failing to get. You’re making a game, not a bloody poem! Make it actually playable!
Sorry, little off track there. Moving back to Edmund, is the message it delivers right? Is the use of rape justified? It perhaps would be, if it didn’t have such a peculiar focus. You see, it almost excuses the fact that the rape happened on the basis of a man’s alter ego that he wasn’t aware of. It fails to fully acknowledge the human tandem of the dark side making up a whole person, instead attributing it to a pyschological scape-goat. It focuses on the rapist rather than the women, which feels wrong. Though the game decided to show the horribly visual act in tiny pixel form, I felt it was shocking for the sake of been shocking rather than to treat rape with any respect or sincerity. Consider also that this game was under the Adult Category alongside such illuminaries as “Dildo Tank The First Squirt”, rather than the Adult/Educational Category. The creator’s design brief even was just simply “I want to make a game about a rapist”. That’s like making a game about a paedophile with no moral culpability, very edgy and bold but…that’s it. Oh wait, somebody already made that game in the same competition.
When you make a game like this so long as it looks vaguely arty some will exclaim, others will applaud games as a mature social medium and people who aren’t up their intellectual arses will call you a sick son of a bitch. I think everybody though, including me for the majority of this article, is over analysing what is infact just a small game. It exploits without delving into real consequence the taboo of rape. It’s an alright effort with some fabulous art direction, but I’m afraid I personally will never like rape as a narrative device whilst playing as the rapist; ignoring the pyschological effects it entails. Only a killer comes away from a murder, in a rape the victim can too and has to live with it. Make it about the victim instead? I can support the effect and meaning of that even if it is just as disgusting. Either that or make Edmund more human and cut the crap with the alter-ego cliche, having Michael as a seperate person that fails to capture Edmund to reflect the lack of justice a victim of rape feels.
Play it if you will, just so you know what I’m talking about and judge it for yourselves. To me, now that I’ve vented a little writing this article all I can say is that it done controversial stuffs, it got attentions, we can ignores it and moves on now wit lifez.