NICOLA Sturgeon has called for a review of video game regulations after the creation of a “sickening and appalling” game in which players are able to rape and kill women.

The PC gaming platform Steam this week cancelled plans to distribute ‘Rape Day’ from April, but the developers said they would try to make it available elsewhere.

The game has an “evil choices” feature it says will let players “verbally harass, kill, and rape women as you choose to progress the story”.

Rather than a continuous action game, the visual novel involves players reading chunks of story about a “sociopath during a zombie apocalypse”, then clicking options to bring up 3D images of the outcomes.

Developers Desk Plant claim it is a “dark comedy.. with a sense of joy and a dark purpose”.

After Steam dropped it, the developers said: “First step is setting up sale for the game somewhere else. The next step is reaching out to other quality developers whose game(s) were banned, which include pornographic content and nothing illegal, to organize a niche site where you can purchase porn games that are too morally reprehensible for Steam.”

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At First Minister’s Questions, SNP MSP Shona Robison asked Ms Sturgeon if she thought the UK Government should review regulations around video games.

Ms Sturgeon said she did and praised Ms Robison was highlighting the issue.

She said: “The Rape Day video game is absolutely sickening and appalling. Violence against women, whether it is sexual or of any other form, is not a game and should never be treated in such a way. It is serious and must be treated that way. I hope the game is not promoted.

“In my view, the matter should not be down to the individual decisions of companies. It is time for the regulations governing the area to be reviewed. Perhaps the whole Parliament can unite on the issue and call on the UK Government to do that without delay.”

Sandy Brindley, chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, said: “When we talk about rape culture this is what we mean. This awful game doesn’t view women as human, it thinks of them as objects, toys even, with their worth likely to be reduced to a score if the player is successful in violating them.

"It’s impossible to separate this horrific game from the reality in Scotland that 2,136 rapes were reported last year, and many, many more unreported. It’s impossible to separate this game from the fact that women and girls face relentless sexual harassment and abuse whether they are walking down the street or at home. It’s all part of the same picture."

"We have to ask ourselves what kind of society we want to live in. Games like this cannot be tolerated in any society that values fairness and equality. This casual normalisation of rape is incompatible with a society where women and girls can live free from fear and violence. If games of this kind aren’t against the law then they should be."

Software company Valve, which owns the Steam platform, also came under fire for an apparently amoral statement announcing it would not distribute Rape Day.

Rather than condemn the content, Valve said it had made a judgement call about “any risk it puts to Valve, our developer partners, or our customers”.

It added: “After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think ‘Rape Day’ poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won’t be on Steam.

“We respect developers’ desire to express themselves, and the purpose of Steam is to help developers find an audience, but this developer has chosen content matter and a way of representing it that makes it very difficult for us to help them do that.”

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SNP MP Hannah Bardell, who reported Rape Day to the police, also raised the issue in the Commons with Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright, saying Valve’s statement was “woeful”.

Mr Wright said the game was “profoundly unacceptable”.

He said: “We must understand exactly how it has got to this point in relation to this game. As I have said, I welcome the fact that the game has been withdrawn. I think we would all have been having a very different conversation this morning if it had not been.”

Afterwards, Ms Bardell said: “The content of this game is utterly perverted - it’s time for the UK government to undertake a full review into how tech companies and gaming platforms - specifically Steam - are able to get away with this kind of stupidity.”

Ms Robison added: “It is utterly abhorrent that in 2019 and the week of International Women’s Day, we are faced with a game glorifying violence against women. It is clear that the UK Government need to review and strengthen the legislation around this area, as well as we need to keep challenging societal views around women’s issues.

“For any online gaming platform to allow the publishing of a so-called game, which glorifies the killing and raping of women, would be disgusting and deeply offensive, therefore, I am delighted that Steam has rejected the distribution of this incredibly shocking game on their online platform