Posted on June 19th, 2009 3 comments
I really didn’t know a lot about the Ethics Organization of Computer Software before they got mentioned in The Phantom of Akihabara. By sheer coincidence, they’re front-and-center in the Japan news media right now thanks to RapeLay, so I thought I’d discuss what they do for a bit and how it relates to the current state of Japan’s eroge business.
Before the EOCS (usually called “Sofu-rin” ソフ倫 in Japanese) was established in 1992, there were not much regulation at all of Japan’s adult game industry. There were occasional controversies, such as when 177 was brought up within Japan’s House of Representatives, but largely the industry enjoyed a remarkable amount of freedom. This all changed with the 1991 release of Saori, an adventure game which features non-censored depictions of (among other things) lesbian incest, fauther/daughter incest, and the game’s heroine taking a piss. A Kyoto middle-schooler was caught shoplifting Saori, causing a news sensation in Japan when the game’s content was fully examined. The developer and publisher had their offices raided by the police, and the president at the time was arrested for the sale of indecent images.
In response, adult-game publishers stepped up their own standards (starting with blurring sexual organs, just like adult video-makers had to do) and limited sale to people 18 and over. There was no unified system, however, and things got worse for the industry when the southern prefecture of Miyazaki banned the sale of several titles in 1992 that did not explicitly state “18 or over” on the box. (One of these, Cybernetic Hi-School, was produced by GAINAX, the Evangelion company. They fought Miyazaki prefecture all the way up to Japan’s supreme court, but lost the case.)
In response, the Japan Personal Computer Software Association (JPSA) requested that adult game publishers establish a cross-industry system to more effectively deal with legal challenges. This led to the founding of the EOCS in August ’92 and the creation of a standard “18+ only” sticker for game boxes. The EOCS initially rated software 18+ or general-audience, but introduced a 15+ rating in June 1994 for games that had some objectional content (such as underage drinking) but no graphic sex. EOCS member companies are obligated to have all of their software rated by the outfit, including any non-adult-oriented stuff they release.