Too Easy: A Response to James Desborough’s ‘In Defense of Rape’

By Alexander Leach

Gaming writer James Desborough’s post defending rape as a literary device has caused a bit of a stir. It might be more appropriate to say that the responses to it have caused the stir – Responses, counter-responses, a PR message from Mongoose, a publicized email exchange, and an online petition to game company Steve Jackson Games to cease printing work by Mr. Desborough have made their rounds around the Web (and apparently, as the email exchange claims, resulted in several threats of rape towards the petitioner). I haven’t read the whole closed thread on, but it looks it exploded like prima donna player who’s dice roll was forgotten.

It’s undeniable that Mr. Desborough’s pretty smug about it, spending most of the post chiding his critics (even before he added in a message, he spent the first few paragraphs belittling those who immediately react negatively to all depictions of rape). His unfortunate choice of title has undoubtedly contributed to the response. I have not read his other contributions on sexuality and gaming, but the relevant ones appear to mostly be satirical works on sex in gaming and depictions of female gamers. I haven’t read any these contributions, so I can’t say much on how offensive they are; what I have seen isn’t something that I’d hope anyone would actually use in games.

The responses to him, particularly the petitions, One of them makes an interesting point in the final paragraph – he doesn’t really address why it’s referred to as a ‘lazy plot device’. (more…)