More Controversial than GTAV – 5 Video Games That Caused Public Outrage
Just days after its release, GTAV is already causing controversy, with ethics campaigners, religious groups, and concerned parents calling for a ban on violent video games once again.
This time, it’s been caused by a particularly ‘gritty’ mission in GTA surrounding torture, and fuelled by the fact that in the UK, a gamer was stabbed, hit with a brick and robbed of his copy of the game just minutes after buying it!
All this controversy is hardly surprising, the Grand Theft Auto Series has always been polarising, and whether it’s been the sex, the drugs, the anti-police sentiment, or the beating old lady’s to death with a bat – the franchise has been causing outrage in various quarters since 1997.
Video games have been at the centre of controversy for much, much longer, and in this post, we’ll be looking at 5 other titles that have caused a similar media backlash.
Mortal Kombat – 1992
Whilst other fighting games of the early 90s like Street Fighter featured cartoony graphics and knock out blows, Mortal Kombat was a completely different animal – with ‘realistic’ digital sprites, and ultra-violent gameplay that had never been seen before.
Whilst the blood and guts gameplay was shocking enough at the time, it was the ‘Fatalities’ that caused major uproar. These gruesome finishing moves were performed to your defenceless opponent after you’d defeated them, and included ripping spines out, tearing their still beating heart from their chest, decapitation and immolation.
The glorified violence and goriness of the game caused worldwide outrage and controversy – and is credited with forcing the US Congress to create the ESRB game rating system in 1994.
After the original, Mortal Kombat continued it’s proud tradition of shocking, over the top violence with a series of sequels, some of which were banned in several countries!
Doom – 1995
Setting the benchmark that all future FPS games would be compared to, Doom featured a hellish world, graphic violence, gruesome visuals, ‘human-like’ opponents and buckets of blood – and was an easy target for the banning brigade.
Dubbed by one outspoken critic as “a mass-murder simulator”, Doom was cited as influential in the 1999 Columbine School Massacre, when it was discovered that the teenage perpetrators were both big fans of the game. This discovery sparked a series of witch-hunts focused on violence in video games, and especially on first person shooters, culminating in Doom being banned in several countries.
To put things into perspective, Doom was banned in Germany until 2011, which shows just how controversial it really was.
Duke Nukem 3D – 1996
Like Doom before it, Duke Nukem is credited with helping making first person shooters popular, with its clever level design and pioneering use of interactive environments paving the way for other games to follow.
If you ever played Duke Nukem, you’ll know why it was so controversial. Apart from being violent and gory, the very first level sees the player taken through an adult theatre, complete with strippers, who can be made to flash…and things don’t get any more PC from there.
Unsurprisingly, the risqué humour, adult themes, misogynistic tone and pixelated partial nudity caused serious uproar, with the game being banned in Germany and Brazil, and being refused classification in Australia.
Manhunt – 2003
A psychological horror game about a death row inmate forced to murder people and participate in a series of twisted snuff films….what could possible be controversial about that?!
Described by many as the most violent video game ever made, Manhunt pushed the boundaries of decency to the limit with its cruel, sadistic and realistic approach to violence, combined with the dark nature of its subject matter. It was accused of glorifying violence by rewarding players for the brutality of the executions, and was even implicated in a murder case in the UK!
Like most of the games on this list, it was banned in several countries, including New Zealand, Australia and Germany. In Canada, it became the first video game in Ontario to be classified as a film and restricted to adults.
None of this stopped the game from being pretty successful, and along with its 2007 sequel, the series has sold over 1.7 million copies worldwide.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – 2009
Whilst the COD series might seem pretty tame compared to the others on this list, when Modern Warfare 2 was released in 2009, it caused quite a stir.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t the overtly imperialistic, US propaganda-fuelled storyline, or the hordes of pre-pubescent boys shouting homophobic, racist slurs at each other online that caused the problems – it was a single, controversial mission entitled ‘No Russian’.
The mission has the player posing as an undercover CIA agent who’s infiltrated some Russian terrorists as they massacre hundreds of unarmed, screaming civilians in an airport. Many found the subject matter disturbing, and the level was removed for the Russian retail release. It was also modified in some countries to punish the player for killing civilians.
And the rest…
Whilst these are all fairly mainstream examples of controversy, they are by no means the worst offenders.
Below, you’ll find a list of 5 real titles from the past 30 years that make the games on this list seem positively tame – mostly NSFW, so Google them at your own risk!
Beat ‘em and Eat ‘em
The king of controversy…
Whilst all the contenders on this list have their merits – none of them can stand up to the Grand Theft Auto series when it comes to the scale of outrage, media coverage and parental backlash it’s caused over the past 16 years.
GTAV is out now, and as you’ll know if you’ve read our review – we think it’s an amazing (if somewhat morally questionable!) game.
If you haven’t already got a copy, head over to Xpango to redeem your credits for a Free Amazon Gift Card, then buy your copy today.