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Unteralterbach visual novel (was: Re: Introduction)

Summary: I've tried the game, and don't think it's suitable for Debian.

Welcome, Nils!

(Keeping you separately addressed because you were in the message I'm
replying to; please say so if you are subscribed.)

(Also, I've seen remarkably few replies to this; for anyone replying,
please keep debian-devel-games@lists.debian.org in the loop.)

On Tue, Mar 04, 2014 at 08:39:20PM +0100, Mateusz Jończyk wrote:
> 2014-03-03 18:37 GMT+01:00 Nils Dagsson Moskopp <nils@dieweltistgarnichtso.net>:
> > I am not that interested in most video games, as I think they
> > contain needless grinding. However, I am interested in games with
> > interesting mechanics or story,

I agree that those are often very interesting.

> > I am somewhat anxious about packaging Unteralterbach, as it may show
> > - depending on player choices - content pertaining to sexual abuse,
> > bdsm, consent, moral panics, slut shaming, virgin shaming, religion,
> > etc. and makes fun of the german federal police and several
> > contemporary public figures. However, I believe that the author has
> > handled these issues in a suitable manner, delivering a compelling
> > story based on these themes.

This got me interested, so I went to check out the game to see how bad
it was, and if it would be suitable for Debian.  I'll give facts first,
then my (perhaps not so relevant) opinion.  I am Dutch, and understand
German, so that was no barrier.

First of all, I didn't finish the game, and certainly didn't examine all
possible paths; I only played it a bit to see what it was like.  I think
I got a good idea, but the ending may seriously alter some things I'm
saying.  Then again, I didn't stop playing for writing this post; I
stopped because I couldn't handle it anymore.  I think you'll understand
after reading the rest of this post.  This is relevant, because it means
that even if the ending "fixes" some things, it will not be seen by all

> > I am going to start with trying to package "Bernd und das Rätsel um 
> > Unteralterbach" - a visual novel set in present-day bavaria containing 
> > (optional) erotic content

The erotic content is not optional, AFAICS.  Only the abuse is optional.
The first time you get to a point where you can see it, you have to
click a button that says "I'm mentally ill and want to see this".  Given
that these are (drawn) images of child abuse, I think they are actually
criminal to possess in many countries (including mine, the Netherlands,
so I have already deleted the game).  I'm pretty sure we cannot
distribute them in Debian, not even in non-free.  So for the rest of the
post, I'm assuming that those images are not in the game.

> Seriously, I have visited the site of the game and from one of the
> screenshots (with the small girl with horns) it seems like the game
> has something to do with child sexualization. I am not fluent in
> German, but the text there seems to also suggest so.
> It would be best to disable the contentious content in Unteralterbach
> as without it the game is playable (as You stated) and hopefully quite
> fine.

Your impression that it has "something to do with child sexualization"
is a formidable understatement.  That's what the entire game is all
about.  The protagonist starts working for the police department going
after child pornography producers.  These producers turn out to be the
children themselves, who use magic to make adults cooperate.  Some
remarkable features:

- With only one single exception (which may well turn the whole story
  around eventually, but didn't so far), _ALL_ children in the game (all
  of them girls) use every opportunity they get to exclaim how much they
  like sex.

- However, apart from that, the girls are very realistic; they don't
  expect you to see through very obvious things, in a way that children

- The entire community is entirely focused on child abuse.  Everyone is
  talking about it pretty much constantly.  For example, when the
  protagonist is found sneaking around, he is immediately suspected of
  it; not of any other crime.  This can be part of the setting, but the
  protagonist (who is new in town) doesn't notice it as something that
  stands out for him.

- The protagonist starts out as hating the abusers and going after them,
  but gets confused when he finds out the girls are doing it all by
  themselves.  The player gets to decide how to handle this confusion,
  but the option of becoming an abuser is hard (but not impossible) to

- There is magic and some hints to (hallucinogenic) drugs, which may
  turn out to have a lot to do with the situation.  There is one girl
  that says "you can't help us", indicating that it isn't as voluntary
  as it seems.  But those are (so far) only very vague hints, that don't
  really influence the overall atmosphere.

And by getting to the atmosphere, I also leave the facts and start about
my opinion.  I was very disturbed by the way that sex with children is
presented as initiated by the children.  I would be disturbed by just
presenting them to like it, and this is a step further.  I'm assuming
the artists are trying to achieve exactly that[1], but for me they're
going too far.  There are a few reasons for that.

Firstly, for "healthy" people like myself, seeing this (even with the
abuse images turned off, there is still a lot explained in the text)
causes remembering it at inappropriate moments (which is any moment that
I'm not playing the game).  I very much dislike this, and it is the
reason I stopped playing.  This need not be a reason to exclude the game
from Debian, but it may be, IMO.

A more serious objection is the effect that it has on the "mentally ill"
people that the game mentions.  I fear the effect that this game may
have on them, could be to convince them that sex with children is not
always a bad thing.  The fact that the children are so realistic
otherwise may add to this risk that they may not keep fantasy and
reality separate.  Their mental condition will surely stimulate that
line of thinking.  In some cases, that may lead to more child abuse.  I
would certainly not want to be responsible for that (in a broader sense
than just legally).

For that reason, I would advise not to include this game in Debian (and
not to spend your time on packaging it).  But note that I'm not setting
the rules here.  If you feel strongly that it adds value to the system,
feel free to explain why, and please also explain why you think that my
objections are less important than the contributions.

Finally, I'm pleased to see someone here who is interested in packaging
visual novels.  I like that concept, and would certainly like to see
more of them in Debian.  Just not this one.


[1] And as for the artists, they have done a great job here.  This game
    looks very good and has obviously taken a lot of work to make.  It's
    a pity they didn't choose a different subject.

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