Featuring games like Bully, Grand Theft Auto, and South Park: The Stick of Truth, Game Rant names the 10 most controversial video games produced to date.
As one of the world's largest entertainment industries, video gaming has inevitably come under scrutiny from fans, parents, and even world governments. Some games have been singled out for featuring excessively violent content, whereas others are accused of having Satanic roots or influencing real world crimes. Over the years, these games have earned a reputation as being some of the most controversial video games ever made, and we decided to compile the most notorious of them all in one place.
Without further ado, here are Game Rant's 10 Most Controversial Video Games Ever.
Bully released at a time when Rockstar Games was already facing a lot of scrutiny from the public due to controversial games like Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt. Perhaps because of the studio's reputation to create games with extreme graphic violence and sexual themes, many assumed the same of Bully, but when the game actually hit store shelves, gamers discovered an emotionally-charged tale that was rather tame when compared to Rockstar's previous efforts. Even so, Bully was still controversial, due to some believing it glorified bullying, and others taking issue with the main character being able to kiss other boys. Despite the controversies surrounding the game, it was still very popular, with many holding out for a Bully sequel one day.
Public concern over video game violence seemed to be an all-time high in the 90s, with games like Doom coming under fire for their graphic violence, Satantic themes, and gore. Doom's controversy extends beyond its own violent content, though, as the game was also blamed for influencing the mass shooters that committed the horrific Columbine high school massacre.
8 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
While all the Grand Theft Auto games are controversial to some degree, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is arguably the most controversial game in the series to date. Not only did it feature the violence and drug use typical of Grand Theft Auto, but it also featured a full-on sex scene, hidden away in the game's code. The only way to access this infamous "Hot Coffee" scene was to mod the game, but it was still enough to get San Andreas slapped with the rare Adults Only rating and temporarily pulled from most store shelves.
Mass murders are terrible events, and many would argue that it is outright offensive to build a game around the concept of playing as a mass murderer. Well, the developers of Hatred decided to do just that, putting players in the role of a merciless psychopath. Criticized for its tasteless subject matter, some digital storefronts outright refused to sell Hatred because of its content.
Rockstar Games, apparently not content with the controversy it earned from creating the Grand Theft Auto series, decided to make Manhunt next. Manhunt and its sequel task players with offing enemies in the most gruesome ways possible, earning the games their reputation as some of the most violent video games of all time.
Manhunt could earn a spot on this list for its violent content alone, but as it turns out, its controversy goes deeper than that. In 2004, the game was mistakenly linked to the real world murder of a 14 year old boy, with various media outlets pointing to Manhunt as a main influence on the killer's actions. In the years since, it was proven that the victim was actually the one playing Manhunt, not his murderer, but the fact that the game was linked to a real world murder at all speaks volumes about its content.
5 Mortal Kombat
Ever wonder why the video gaming industry developed its own content rating system? The answer is Mortal Kombat. Back in the early 90s, the ESRB did not exist, and so parents rarely had any idea what kind of game they were buying for their kids. Mortal Kombat and its gory fatalities resulted in a number of court cases that eventually led to the gaming industry developing its own self-regulatory rating system, similar to the kind seen in film and television.
4 Night Trap
Not many video games can claim that they were once the subject of a discussion by the United States Senate, but Night Trap is one such game. Along with the previously mentioned Mortal Kombat, Night Trap is one of the reasons why the ESRB was established in the first place. Night Trap's sexual and violent content made it extremely controversial at a time when such content was rare for the medium, to the point that it was pulled from sale in many areas.
Most of the games on this list are M-rated and depict graphic scenes of violence and gore, yet the E-rated Pokemon games may be even more controversial. The original Pokemon titles were actually accused of being Satanic and racist, with the latter accusations due to the Pokemon Jynx resembling an actor in blackface.
In recent months, Pokemon has further cemented its status as one of the most controversial video game series ever, thanks to Pokemon GO. The popular augmented reality mobile game has been directly related to numerous car accidents, physical injuries, and in some cases, even death - and that's not to mention the growing number of court cases that people have levied against the game.
2 Postal 2
Postal 2 has a lot in common with a previous game on this list, Hatred. Both games are essentially about mass murder, and both were criticized for being tasteless and disturbing. In fact, Postal 2's content has been deemed so upsetting to some that it has actually been banned in numerous countries around the world, including Germany, Malaysia, and New Zealand. Despite its questionable subject matter and negative reviews, though, Postal 2 is actually getting remastered for PS4, so modern gamers can experience the controversy for themselves.
1 South Park: The Stick of Truth
South Park has been infamous since its first episode aired in 1997, and its first major video game release, South Park: The Stick of Truth, has caused quite a stir as well. The game features a number of scenes and situations that many would find offensive, but one particular moment in the game involving an abortion clinic was too much for some, resulting in the game being heavily censored in a few countries. A superhero-themed sequel, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, is set to release later in 2016, and it will be interesting to see if it faces similar scrutiny from censors.
From Bully to South Park: The Stick of Truth, there have been many games over the years that have dominated headlines because of their content. Whether it's due to graphic violence, explicit sexual content, or religious themes, the games on this list are all considered controversial, and many other games are likely to experience the same scrutiny in the future as well.
Which video game do you think is the most controversial? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.