Video gaming has been without a doubt the most revolutionary and profitable form of art among young people for over three decades now, with U.S. gaming revenue alone currently estimated at about $22 billion. With millions of hard-core fans across the globe, the world of video games keeps growing each day, while many pop culture experts believe that in a few years it will officially be the leading type of entertainment, ahead of music and film. What’s even more encouraging is that the benefits of playing video games have been highlighted by many recent scientific studies, and they are not viewed anymore, for the most part, in as bad of a light as they were when they first became popular in the early 1980’s.
Despite the rise of video games in modern culture, there have been more than a handful of cases where things went wrong and the industry received many blows. Even from the early ’70’s, the gaming world has been a minefield of criticism and censorship, where games have been viciously attacked or even banned for their content or objective. The following 25 Most Disputed Video Games That Shocked The World are absolute proof that video games have a greater impact on society than some of us might think.
Whiplash shocked many with its grotesque cartoonish cruelty in its depiction of animal product testing, despite the premise of the game supposedly being against this. Many people felt like it condoned violence and made a joke of animal suffering, even though the game designers claimed the purpose of the game was to raise awareness of this issue among children.
The Stanley Parable
An image in this game was enough to offend many players and cause big controversy, and how could it not when that image portrayed an adult white male setting a black child on fire? The maker of The Stanley Parable promised to change the image and apologized to all those who took offense to the racist content, stating that he didn’t think in terms of race when he created the image.
Survival Island 3
This 3D first-person survival-action game was released on the App Store and Google Play in December 2015 and depicts a white male killing indigenous Australians in order to survive. As expected, the game attracted strong criticism in Australia for its racist presentation of indigenous Australians, who were presented as “real Aboriginals” and a threat to the fair-skinned player’s survival.
Resistance: Fall of Man
The controversy this game caused in the UK back in 2006 was one of a kind. The Church of England objected to the game’s use of Manchester Cathedral’s interior as a backdrop during a gun battle, and called for the game to be withdrawn, or for the cathedral to be removed from the game. They also made several legal threats against Sony, but eventually the whole controversy ended outside the courts.
Postal 2 is a first-person-shooter and the sequel to 1997’s Postal. Both are considered controversial within gaming circles, mainly due to high levels of violence and stereotyping. To get an idea, violence against pedestrians and police officers, racism, sexual themes, drug use, and animal cruelty are some of the basic elements of the game. Unsurprisingly, the game got banned in New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia.
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The Pokémon Jynx came under heavy backlash following a 2000 article by Carole Boston Weatherford that accused the character’s design of perpetuating blackface imagery. The resulting controversy forced a drastic redesign of Jynx, changing its skin from black to purple and shrinking its eyes and mouth.
On May 22, 2000, Perfect Dark became the most controversial video game ever released by Nintendo, who was considered the “Disney” of video game companies. What was so bad about Perfect Dark? Well, not much really other than being the first M-rated game by Nintendo, at a time when the company was known for family-friendly video game franchises like Pokémon and Mario Bros.
The plot of this 1992 game focuses on a group of young women who are the targets of the Augers, vampiric creatures who wish to take the women’s blood. As you probably realize, there’s a lot of violence, sex, and unfortunately child abuse, which makes the game not only controversial but also quite sick!
Medal of Honor
The multiplayer mode of this game caused chaos when it was revealed that players could play as members of the Taliban. The developers stated that the reality of the game necessitated it, but due to pressure from various military officials and veterans organizations, the word Taliban was removed from the multiplayer part of the game and was instead replaced with the term Opposing Force.
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
Initially released in North America, this 1987 video game for Nintendo included more racial stereotypes than a KKK tea party to say the least: weak Frenchmen who beg for mercy; a violent German who looks like a pedophile; and a strung out, balding, crack-addicted black man are only a few of the game’s characters.
Even though this game received positive reviews by critics and gamers, it also got a great deal of controversy, mainly because of its graphic violence. It was banned in several countries, and gained even more controversy after it was suggested by the British media that the game inspired a teenager to commit murder, although this idea was later rejected by the police and the courts.
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What would you think if we told you there’s a game that puts you in the role of Lee Harvey Oswald, and to “win,” you have to assassinate President John F. Kennedy? Sounds kind of wrong, no? Well, this is what JFK: Reloaded is about. It was heavily criticized for re-creating the assassination of such a beloved president, being condemned by a spokesman for Senator Ted Kennedy as “despicable.”
Grand Theft Auto series
Despite the commercial and critical success of the franchise, the Grand Theft Auto series has also generated a lot of controversy, mainly for its violence, immorality, and other reasons. Additionally, some feminist organizations have concluded that the game’s depiction of women is misogynistic.
Τhis primitive (by today’s standards) 1973 arcade game manufactured by Atari Inc. caused a lot of controversy when it came out due to its controls being perceived as pink rubber bulges that were meant to represent breasts that were squeezed in order to control the action.
When this game came out in 2009, there was an outrage among feminist organizations with the most hard-core of them demanding for it to be banned in the United States and most of Europe. Also, many video game editorials argued that the concept and title was hostile to women, and some suggested that its designers were misogynists.
Doom is a 1993 science-fiction horror-themed first-person-shooter that is considered one of the most significant and influential titles in gaming history for having pioneered the now-ubiquitous first-person shooter. However, it has been controversial for its violence and satanic themes, and was even blamed for the Columbine High School massacre when the tragedy occurred, with some claiming that the perpetrators, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, were fanatic players of the game.
Based on the horror film, critics and fans alike openly claimed that Saw’s sole purpose was to glorify the torture and killing of people in violent ways with no sense of restraint or morality. Some editorials called it “depraved and inhumane” and stated that “Konami should be ashamed.” No wonder it gained the title of the most controversial game of 2009.
Custer’s Revenge, also known by the not-so-catchy name “The White Man Came,” is an adult video game made for the Atari 2600 by Mystique, a company that produced many adult video games for that system during the 1980’s. The reasons this game was seen as racist and controversial are many, but just to give you an idea, keep in mind that one of the game’s features included a depiction of General Custer shooting arrows at a naked Native American woman tied to a pole.
From its title, many gamers not so rightfully believed this game glorifies bullying. In reality, the main character, James “Jimmy” Hopkins, is a student who is involuntarily enrolled at a school filled with bullies and tries to bring peace and justice to it. In 2007, Yahoo! Games listed it as one of the top ten most controversial games of all time, even though we can’t say we fully agree with them.
177 is the number of the Japanese criminal legislation paragraph that forbids rape. This game from 1986, however, does just the opposite: it puts the player in control of a man who must pursue a fleeing young girl and rape her. Still wondering why 177 was so controversial?
Despite this epic ’90’s game creating a tremendous legacy among gamers and being widely considered the “grandfather of 3D shooters,” specifically first-person shooters, it was attacked by many critics when it was released for its violence, gore, Nazi symbolism, and the inclusion of Adolf Hitler as the final boss at the end of the game.
Pokémon Go is probably the hottest trend on the planet right now, but at the same time, it has garnered significant controversy, especially after the game allegedly inspired criminals to commit robberies using the augmented reality feature.
To begin with, this video game was created by the American white nationalist organization National Alliance. The plot focuses on a “race war,” where you as the player control a neo-Nazi or a Klansman and have to kill stereotypical African American, Latino, and Jewish enemies, finishing up by killing former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. It’s easy to see why this game was so controversial.
This 2015 game focuses on a suicidal mass murderer who shoots innocent civilians in a fit of rage. What made things even worse was that the CEO behind Hatred had previously been accused of having neo-Nazi and anti-Islamic affiliations due to liking some pages on Facebook related to such beliefs. The game was quickly removed by Valve Corporation from their Steam Greenlight service due to its extremely violent content but was later brought back with a personal apology by Gabe Newell, cofounder and managing director of Valve.
RapeLay is probably the most controversial in history, and truth be told, not unfairly so. You see, the game focuses on a male character who stalks and rapes a mother and her two daughters. This male is you or whoever is willing to play the game. Surprisingly, three years after its release in 2006, the game finally garnered international attention for its content and was subsequently banned in several countries.
Interested in learning about more video games? Check out 25 Insanely Violent Video Games.