Sony has blocked the release of a controversial video game teaching men how to "pick up" women using tactics that verge on harassment, but it is still available on PC and Mac and a campaign has begun to have it removed.
Super Seducer was due to be released on PlayStation 4 on Tuesday 6th March but Sony confirmed it will no longer be available on the platform. It was created by British pickup artist Richard La Ruina, who describes himself as a "dating coach" and was once called a dick by Piers Morgan during an appearance on ITV's Good Morning Britain, which is truly saying something.
The game is a "live-action seduction simulator" aimed at straight men that lets them live out their fantasies of picking up women using various creepy tactics. Many of which disregard women's boundaries and make them feel uncomfortable, such as pursuing her even if she tells you she has a boyfriend, and interrupting her while she's reading a book and clearly doesn't want to be disturbed.
The trailer sees La Ruina sitting on a bed between two women in their underwear, shows him grabbing parts of a woman's body and includes the line, "If you're not good at cooking you better be real good at sucking d**k."
"No matter who you are or what you look like, after playing this game you'll be able to win the girl of your dreams," he promises.
Unsurprisingly, Super Seducer has been widely condemned by feminist groups, progressive journalists and women on social media. The Verge described it as "the last game we need in the #MeToo era" with its promotion of "toxic behaviours and attitudes", while The Next Web called it the "world's sleaziest seduction game".
Sony's choice to drop the game was reported by Motherboard, though it's unclear whether it was a moral or ethical decision or whether its quality simply wasn't up to scratch. The game was originally crowdfunded on Kickstarter before it was suspended from the site due to “inappropriate content, including but not limited to offensive or pornographic material.”
It can still be played elsewhere, however, with Valve's Steam gaming platform making it available to Mac and PC users. UK-based feminist group Level Up has launched a petition urging Steam to stop selling the game.
"A notorious pickup artist has developed a video game that encourages men to harass women," the group says. "This game is toxic. PlayStation and Kickstarter have already decided to pull it because of the dangerous message it sends. But a major games retailer, Steam, just decided to stock it. Tell Steam not to sell Super Seducer by signing this petition."
The game has also attracted a barrage of criticism on social media, with many people tagging Steam and encouraging them to scrap it.
But one woman suggested it could actually be a worthwhile purchase for women, writing on the Steam discussion forum: "Every woman should buy this game! No seriously, you should. Get it, play it, and if you ever, EVER met a guy who does ANY of these things, run like hell. It's a very useful guide in that respect."
It's cheering to see multinational companies like Sony taking a stand against the spread of toxic masculinity and preventing the training of the next generation of Harvey Weinsteins, so let's hope the lesser-known Steam platform will follow suit.
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