Almost Sexual Assault Scene in Hotline Miami 2 Might Be Removed... Maybe
Let us start with a fairly uncontroversial statement before we talk about Hotline Miami 2.
Sexual assault is bad.
It is tough to get a more universally agreed-upon sentence. There are very few statements a person accused of a sexual crime can make more certain to convince everyone they are guilty and deserve to be punished than for them to claim there was nothing wrong with what they did.
This brings us to Hotline Miami 2. The demo of the game includes a portion where the player seems to be about to rape a woman. While it is shown to be a scene in a movie the player and woman are acting in, this is not established before the player-controlled character almost rapes a woman.
This scene, understandably, has upset some people.
As a result, Dennaton Games has stated they are going back over the scene and considering revising it for the finished product, and they removed it entirely from the demo. They maintain, however, that the scene has deeper relevance to the characters in question given circumstances and context not visible in the demo.
This brings up a similar question to the recent issue with the Whore of the Orient being called racially insensitive. The subject matter is much different this time. There is no historical background behind putting a simulated sexual assault into Hotline Miami 2, so far as I can tell. It does not bother people because it brings up memories of injustices and atrocities of a bygone era.
Rape is a big deal, with a constant debate swirling about just how prevalent rape culture is in modern society. This is to say nothing of people who have been or know victims of rape, for whom such a thing could be hitting painfully close to home.
If it is art, then what is the message?
I am all in favor of the idea of video games as art, and part of the duty of any artist is to make people think about difficult things in ways they wouldn't have on their own. Having rape addressed in a game is not something I would be opposed to. While Whore of the Orient seems certain to at least partly address the highly negative issues involved in Shanghai having earned that nickname in the past, Hotline Miami 2 seems less likely to be seriously addressing sexual assault with the level of artistic care such sensitive subjects require.
Dennaton, if the scene in the full game really is a major part of the character of these two characters and those characters actually matter in the overall game, then do it, but be sure you do it well. If the scene honestly does not need to be there? If the characters could be explained or given the same type of depth through other means? Please consider doing so.
Rational thought and societal growth is often worth people being made uncomfortable. It often requires it. A video game that is just trying to be fun should not.