Tentacle Bento, The Card Game About RapePosted by Mat on 16th May, 2012
Kickstarter is an important service. It’s one that hasn’t necessarily revolutionised the way that consumers and designers now interact, but it’s shown that if a niche audience wants something enough they now have a significantly improved chance of getting it. It negates the need for publishers to take a risk on an unproven product for a market they aren’t sure exists and it means that if a game has merit, but is unusual, it can still make it into people’s hands.
The lack of barriers in Kickstarter creation unfortunately mean that products like Tentacle Bento can be pitched, funded fully (then exceed their expected tally) and make it into existence. If it weren’t for Kickstarter finally pulling the plug on funding then this game would be shipped out to likely more than 622 backers.
Developers Soda Pop Miniatures pitch Tentacle Bento as a “cheeky satire” of popular anime pornography where women are kidnapped and sexually assaulted by tentacle monsters; this genre is referred to as “shokushu goukan” which translates to “tentacle rape”. Within the game you embody one of these monsters and are tasked with kidnapping as many female university students as you can before time runs out. Allegedly the pitch has been edited slightly since the initial posting, a back-up of the announcement makes reference to how the girls are “quite capable of holding their own against… unwanted advances”.
I’ve approached the company for comment about their use of the term “satire”, but have not yet garnered a reply. From assessment of the Kickstarter page though at no point does the pitch make good on the assertion. It is seemingly not judging the appropriateness of this arm of culture, nor condemning it, nor really making any statement at all. It is not satire of the genre; it is the genre.
This is a card game about kidnapping women, and it’s played for enjoyment.
Since being denied funding through Kickstarter, the company have attempted to garner donations through their own website which I’ve chosen not to link to through fear of accidental promotion. At the time this was posted it has just exceeded half the required donations. Now without anyone to step in and prevent the continued funding there’s a likely chance that Tentacle Bento will soon be available for sale.
Games should not be limited from broaching any topic, if Tentacle Bento were truly make a legitimate statement then it could be applauded. It does not. It attempts to trivialise the act of rape and permit the continuation of rape culture.