Domestic Violence as fun and games

A video caught my attention last week. It positions domestic violence as a game. The video is a screencast of an actual game by a Danish anti-violence NGO who wants to ‘stop the cycle of abuse’ by having players beat a woman until she is sobbing on the floor. Beyond the obvious, there are several interesting discourses going on in this game. For example, before every hit, the woman says something to the player – reinforcing the discourse that the woman ‘asks for it’. Even the scoring system, which ranks you between ‘100% pussy’ to ‘100% gansta’ with each hit of the woman.

The only ‘reinforcement’ that the player received that what he or she is doing is wrong comes at the end of the game when the woman is sobbing on the floor. The 100% gansta label changes to 100% idiot. Then the statistics about domestic violence scroll by while the woman continues to sob. But by then, do they not act more like the credits to the end of a movie – which few people actually watch.

In my opinion, this game perpetuates harmful discourses about domestic violence – not least in the term they choose in the title ‘bitch’. And while the initial though behind this may have been to shock the player, I think the counter measures are both too late and infective. What do you think about it?

(This was cross posted from our project site about domestic violence and the Internet in Sweden potentially acting as a surrogate social network (DVIS). For more information about our project, please read a short description here.)

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