The widely popular "Grand Theft Auto" video-game series lets players get away with a wide range of virtual crimes, including looting and murder. But that's not enough mayhem for some players, who are rewriting its code to add another crime: rape.
In a disturbing new trend, "Grand Theft Auto V" gamers are virtually raping the avatars controlled by other people playing online. They then post videos of their exploits on YouTube.
The virtual rapists modify the game's code to let them do things they otherwise couldn't. They choose a naked or pantless man as their character, lock him to another player and play an animation that thrusts his pelvis back and forth.
Note: YouTube videos of the gameplay that previously appeared here have since been removed by the site as a violation of its policy on content depicting sexual violence.
A Reddit user with the handle "mrerikmattila" described the experience of being a victim. "You cannot kill him and there is nothing you can do about it," he wrote of his virtual rapist. "Worse, when he's done, you are stuck doing strip dances."
Rockstar Games, which publishes the series, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the past, Rockstar has pushed back against accusations that its games depict rape. Last year, when a video-game blogger at PlayStation Universe thought he encountered a rape scene in "Grand Theft Auto V," Rockstar responded that the episode in question was "meant to depict and imply cannibalism, not rape."
Sadly, virtual rape isn't new to video games. Earlier this year, video-game writer Kim Correa described her own virtual sexual assault in the zombie apocalypse game "DayZ." Two armed men cornered her character, made her strip, killed her and simulated having sex with her body. The players could speak to her through the video game the entire time.
"I definitely don't want to say what happened to me verbally is as important as if it had happened in real life," Correa later said in an interview with TLDR, a radio show that airs on WNYC 93.9 FM. "But it means something. And I'm not sure what it means."