Accusations of ‘normalizing pedophilia‘ are being hurled at the massively popular game distribution platform Steam in the wake of that company’s decision to feature “Shower With Your Dad,” a “fast-paced shower-simulation” in which players try to direct young children to shower with their fathers in a public bathroom instead of random men. Detractors, including Britain’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, are now demanding that Steam remove the game, which features pixelated nudity and is, if nothing else, tonally bizarre.
While there is nothing inherently weird or wrong with a young child bathing or showering with a parent, opponents of the game seem particularly upset with how it depicts naked young boys and could, as the Chief Executive of Barndo, the UK’s leading children’s charity, pointed out, “encourage pedophilia.” While it may be a bit of a stretch to say that the game emboldens pedophiles, “Shower With Your Dad” feels very much like a provocation in the mold of South Park, but considerably less joyfully executed. The game is clearly designed to raise eyebrows and, well, you live and die by that sword.
This isn’t the first time Steam has come under fire for pushing a game that they provided through their service. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission disabled access to the entire Steam store last year after the company released a game depicting religious deities fighting. Last year Steam was also forced to remove another popular title, “House Party,” because it was broadly understood to be pornographic.
Marbenx, the company behind “Shower With Your Dad,” poked fun at criticism from the jump by wryly billing the 8-bit game as “good clean fun.” That was — and it’s worth noting this — three years ago. The reason for the current backlash seems to be rising popularity or just awareness among groups that fight child abuse.
Neither scoring the promotional video with a clever parody of Kanye West’s hit song “Power” or going about the game’s development with a self-aware smirk really undercuts just how strange the concept of the game is in general. Nor does it make it any more acceptable that the developers constantly nod and wink at the game’s pedophilic undertones without ever handling it in an adult way.