Note: This article contains mature themes and disturbing content; discretion is advised.
Last night two major companies made unfortunate headlines on social media: YouTube, and a mobile game development company called Lilith Games. Lilith Games is a company based in China that is funded by IDG Capital, an international venture capital firm.
Lilith Games is responsible for titles such as AFK Arena (Ubisoft has fittingly worked with them in the past), Isoland, and Rise of Kingdoms.
An advertisement captured by Redditor /u/b4nd1t55 shows a disturbing scene to advertise for the mobile title Rise of Kingdoms played on YouTube with no age-gate, where a woman is ambushed by a large man, beaten, and raped while harvesting. In the following scene, the player has a choice to either kill themselves or find revenge after being violated; clicking ‘Revenge’ has the woman leaping off the cliff to kill herself. Because after an individual has been raped, they apparently have nothing left to offer in life.
It almost sounds like satire without proof, so here is the advertisement as a whole:
The staggering number of things that are simply morally reprehensible within this advertisement is reprehensible, not only from Lilith Games but from Google as well.
Even barring the fact that children are being forced to view an ad where a woman is violently subdued and raped, the fact that anyone needs to sit through this disturbing display of turning rape and violence into a fun aspect with goofy sound effects, as though the astounding number of women raped every day internationally is anything to make light of, the notion that Google have accepted payment for the advertisement, continues to show the advert to everyone on their video platform and offers the title readily through the Google Play Store is an absolute travesty of the highest order.
Fun fact, it is an Editor’s Choice, and the title is age-gated for ‘Everyone 10+’. Whew.
Even more so considering where Google readily bans content creators from monetizing videos if they use a singular profane word, and that Google has readily shown advertisements on YouTube that show sexually explicit images of women being penetrated.
YouTube, and its parent Google, has shown that they are far more interested in protecting the companies that are willing to advertise with them than the viewers that frequent their platform, and this is the result. Advertisements accepted wholesale with Google apparently asking companies to nicely comply instead of having any oversight to protect viewers, of all ages, from hate-filled fantasies of some lonely corporate wank.
The excuse that YouTube attempts to automate their screening of ads has become well-worn over the past few years and is simply no longer a functional excuse as Google continues to show sexually explicit and violent adverts from companies attempting to traumatize others simply to become noticed. Congratulations Lilith Games, you have been noticed.
A few things need to happen moving forwards: first and most obviously, the removal of the disgusting advertisement from YouTube. Lilith Games should also be cut from the Google Play Store as they have intentionally broken the Terms of Service and traumatized several viewers. Third, Google needs to come up with a new way of analyzing these advertisements, because we are sick of being trauma fodder for unscrupulous corporations that have the deep pockets necessary to dodge the consequence of every infraction they commit against consumers (a tale as old as time).
That this conversation even needs to happen is a damnable shame that shows gross incompetence on multiple levels of multiple corporations. Rape victims are some of the strongest beings to walk this earth, and to make light of it is repulsive.