A controversial rape-themed game has been pulled from an online video game platform.

This comes after a Herald article published yesterday, expressing concerns about the game not having to pass any local censorship before being listed on the Steam gaming platform, which is used by as many as 150 million users.

Deputy chief censor Jared Mullen told the Herald that - unlike physical copies of games sold in stores - his office does not classify games sold by international online services like Steam by default.

However, it will assess a game if a member of the public, the police or the Department of Internal Affairs complains.

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And complaints about Rape Day did arrive after the Herald article.

"We received a total of 25 complaints - some by email and some by phone," Mullen says.

"Yesterday I reached out directly to Steam and asked about the availability of Rape Day to New Zealand customers and informed Steam that the OFLC was assessing whether we would call the game in for classification.

"Steam responded directly and informed me that they had decided not to release the game on their platform and that they would shortly make a public statement."

While Steam has pulled the game, it does not have a monopoly in this space and there is every possibility that Rape Day could reappear on other sites with lower standards than Steam.

"If we become aware of the game cropping up on another platform we will call it in for classification," Mullen says.

Steam's statement says, "Much of our policy around what we distribute is, and must be, reactionary—we simply have to wait and see what comes to us via Steam Direct," the statement said.

"We then have to make a judgment call about any risk it puts to Valve, our developer partners, or our customers. After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think 'Rape Day' poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won't be on Steam."

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The statement goes on to address concerns about the limitations such moves may place on free speech.

"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."

The Chief Censor has previously banned digital games Criminal Girls and Gal Gun: Double Peace in response to concerns over their content, and Steam has made the invisible to its New Zealand users.

What about Netflix?

Streaming video services like Netflix are in a similar situation, Mullen says.

Unlike a physical DVD disc sold in NZ, their content does not need to be classified by default - but the Chief Censor will respond to complaints from the public, police or the DIA.

Mullen says this process let to both series of the Netflix original series 13 Reasons being classified R18.

Unlike a video or computer game store, there's no equivalent to an adult behind the counter to run an age check.

But Mullen says classifications do carry legal weight.

If a court judges you downloaded objectionable material without knowing it was classified objectionable, you can be fined up to $14,000. If you're found to have consumed it knowingly, you can be jailed up to 14 years.

He also says that part of his office's role is to alert parents and the public in general when it has rated a series like 13 Reasons or banned a game.

If you're in danger NOW:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault.

Where to go for help or more information:

NZ Police
Help Auckland 24/7 helpline 09 623 1700
Rape Prevention Education
Wellington Help 24/7 crisisline 04 801 6655, push 0
Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz