New video game encourages players to strip and spank each other
Collett Smart, child/adolescent psychotherapist and member of Collective Shout discusses the new game, 'We dare,' designed for adults, but available for children. Collett also writes for her blog, The Tween Factor.
Sex between minors is now legal in Australia it seems. Well that would be true, if the standards of the Classification Board were anything to go by. Ubisoft has launched their ‘We Dare’ game for wii and PS3 that is due for release on the 3 March. The classification board has only given it a PG rating.
In their decision to give We Dare a PG rating the Classification Board said that they acknowledged the 'sexual tone' of the game but believed its sexual references were 'mild, discreetly implied and justified by context.' So minors engaging in ‘discreet’ group sex or pornified behavior is justified because it is in the ‘context’ of a game?
While traditionally known as family consoles, the latest Nintendo Wii’s raunchy party game comes complete the promotion line ‘The more friends you invite to party, the spicier the play!’ It is rendered, ‘a sexy, quirky party game that offers a large variety of hilarious, innovative and physical, sometimes kinky, challenges’. The box promises 'flirty fun for all,' above an image of a plush pink armchair draped in lingerie and padded handcuffs.
The risqué video, which leaves the viewer without any doubt about the intention of the game, presents two couples in a series of sexually suggestive positions. The trailer provides offers of partner swapping, group sex, spanking and stripping.
Key features advertised for the game include a call to ‘challenge your mates to a flirty striptease’, as well as the option of shedding some clothing which will even the playing field and ‘definitely make the party more interesting!' It has been said that ‘the shedding of clothing’ is meant to be all about weight loss promotion. When was the last time you saw someone going to the gym without their clothing?
Ubisoft encourages ‘provocative’ use of controls. They persuade the gamer to, ‘Use your controller in the most unexpected ways, as you’ve never imagined before... Get up-close and personal with your friends with this wide variety of naughty and silly challenges. This is an invitation to let yourself go, because life is short and what happens in this game... stays in the game!’ They offer the option to select the mood of your party (Enchanting, Persuasive, Naughty...), as well as ‘A wide and varied range of 40 fun and flirtatious games.' By 'fun and flirtatious mini-games,' they mean group sex and pole dancing.
Ubisoft states that their sexy party game is targeted at men and women between 20 and 30 years old but with a rating of 12 years. So the target market is adults, but it’s ok for kids too? Australia has given it a PG rating, even though the age of consent is over 16 years.
We know that repeated exposure to sexualised material erodes healthy self-concept as well as providing unhealthy views of relationships. According to Professor Louise Newman in Getting Real, 'The sexualisation of children refers to the imposition of adult sexual themes on children at a developmentally inappropriate stage and in a way which may compromise child psychological development.' This occurs before a child or young person is mentally, emotionally or physically ready.
Dr Linda Papadopoulos, a well-known clinical psychologist in the UK, who put together The Sexualisation of Young People Review, found that core cognitive learning and developmental theories demonstrate that children learn vicariously from what they see, and that exposure to themes which a child is not developmentally ready to cope with can have a detrimental effect. Thus, 'As children grow older, exposure to this imagery leads to body surveillance or the constant monitoring of personal appearance... Indeed, there is a significant amount of evidence that attests to the negative effects of sexualisation on young people in terms of mental and physical health, attitudes and beliefs.'
The mounting evidence indicates that exposure to sexual themes that children are not developmentally ready for can cause children and adolescents to begin to:
- Devalue relationships
- Objectify women
- Disrespect women
- Lose confidence in themselves
- Sexualise their own behaviour
- Be at risk for developing eating disorders and depression
I have grave concerns about this type of game becoming part of teenagers’ party culture. A worrying trend that already exists among some tweens is to engage in ‘dress to impress’ parties, where the girls are expected to come in (very little) ‘sexy’ clothing to impress the boys, while the boys arrive in full dress suits. Again Newman states that this type of behaviour, 'fundamentally denies the existence of the child’s need for their own sexual development and the difference between adult and child sexuality.'
As one parent in the UK commented, 'This sort of computer game will only serve to fuel sexual tensions and in a worse case scenario sexual touching or assault. Imagine a room of testosterone-fuelled teenagers playing this; something could get out of hand.' Add alcohol into the mix at a teen ‘We Dare’ party and the likelihood of things going horribly wrong during or after the ‘game’ is very high.
Senior politicians in the UK have called for the game to be kept off shelves while its sexual content is investigated and the US won't be seeing the game released within its shores. Australia, however, has allowed this to be sold in stores from today.
To object to the potential sale of this game in our large retail chains, please use these links to write to: Kmart, BigW and Target. Target and Kmart have both advised us that they do not and will not be selling 'We dare.' Well done Target and Kmart!
[Update] To clarify, these retailers may not actually be selling 'We dare' at the moment and they may not intend to. The purpose of writing to them is to let them know about the issues surrounding 'We dare' as outlined in the article and to urge them not to sell the game now or in future.
[Update] EB games is selling 'We dare.' Contact them here. We suggest clicking on 'General and Corporate information' on the left hand menu and then click on 'I have a general question about your company.'
To object to the classification of this game, please fill in the online enquiry form for the Australian Classification Review Board here. Their policy states that a fee waiver occurs, if the material:
(a) involves a matter of interest to the public at large, or to a significant
portion of the public; or
(b) provides a public benefit; or
(c) encourages or contributes to a desirable public purpose.
Write directly to the Attorney General's Classification branch on firstname.lastname@example.org. Att: Jane Fitzgerald (Assistant Secretary)