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Top 10 Insanely Controversial Video Games

VO: JB
Script written by Nathan Sharp Some games court controversy, others seem to be made to solely to create it. These are the games that caused people to flip out, politicians to wring their hands and concerned parents everywhere to become major buzzkills. Welcome to http://WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Controversial Video Games. Special thanks to our user “Dan Paradis” for suggesting this topic using our interactive suggestion tool at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Most Controversial Video Games

The media just loves attacking video games. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten most controversial video games. For this list, we’ll be looking at the most controversial video games of all time. These are the games which caused massive uproars within the media due to their perceived questionable and immoral content. We’ll be ranking our list based on the severity of the controversy, not on the game’s quality.

#10: “Death Race” (1976)


Yeah, this game is nothing but crappy little pixels, but it caused an insane amount of controversy when it was released in 1976. If only they could see the video games of today! “Death Race” was an arcade game which saw you steering a car towards fleeing gremlins and running them over. The dead gremlins would then be replaced with tombstones, which cluttered the screen and made driving difficult. Individuals called the game “morbid” and “insidious,” and “60 Minutes” reported on the psychological impact the game could have on players. Sound familiar? The more things change, the more they stay the same.

#9: “Custer’s Revenge” (1982)


And here they thought video games were for children. “Custer’s Revenge” is an infamous game which sees you controlling General Custer, only instead of fighting in the Civil War, you’re committing sexual crimes. So, yeah, we can see how this would be controversial. The game’s cover stated that it was “not for sale to minors,” but despite that, various groups, including Women Against Pornography, Native Americans, and general critics all condemned the game for its atrocious content matter. It was denounced in Oklahoma City and eventually discontinued altogether, with the developers stating, “The publicity was just so negative that it was interfering with our company’s business.”

#8: “Leisure Suit Larry” series (1987-)


The “Leisure Suit Larry” series follows Larry Laffer (what a name) as he attempts to woo women and get lucky in a fictional version of Las Vegas. While the later installments of this series are quite lewd and crude, that actually wasn’t the case for the first couple of games. Despite its relative tameness, the first game in the series was a huge target for controversy. Many stores refused to sell it due to the questionable content matter, and the development company received a ton of hate mail for developing such a racy game. Despite the controversy, the game (like most controversial games) was a huge commercial success.

#7: “State of Emergency” (2002)


“State of Emergency” was published by Rockstar Games. That’s about all you need to know. The game is a beat-‘em-up which sees you controlling various characters who are fighting with an underground resistance movement to overthrow the American Trade Organization. Due to its storyline, the game contained instances of and cries for coups and political assassinations, and…yeah, you know where we’re going with this. Politicians even denounced the game before it was released, as they believed that it drew too heavily on the real 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization protests.

#6: “Postal” series (1997-)


“Postal” was the “Hatred” of the 1990s, and it arguably caused even more of an uproar within the gaming community and the media. Hey, we’re used to these silly games by now, but in 1997, this stuff was unheard of. The first “Postal” follows a man who has gone postal and believes that his town has been affected by a poison gas, resulting in him attacking an Air Force base and attempting to shoot up an elementary school. Both it and its sequel faced enormous amounts of controversy, and “Postal 2” was even made illegal to own in New Zealand, with players facing possible jail time if they were in possession of the game.

#5: “Doom” (1993)


The early 1990s were an influential time in the development of first person shooters. However, they were also the subject of a lot of controversy, as evident by both “Wolfenstein 3D” and “Doom.” That said, “Doom” was by far the bigger threat in the eyes of the media. They condemned both its brutal violence and Satanic themes, and it was even called a “mass murder simulator” due to its first-person perspective. It was again brought to the media’s attention in 1999 when it was blamed for the Columbine High School massacre, as shooter Eric Harris specifically mentioned the game in one of his tapes.

#4: “Night Trap” (1992)


“Night Trap” is a full motion video game which was meant to launch both the Sega CD and the new revolution in video games. It did neither, but what it DID manage to do was draw up a whole host of controversies. In December of 1993, a United States Senate committee discussed the ever-popular topic of violence in video games. “Night Trap” was at the center of their attention, as they took issue with its violence and treatment of women. The game was pulled from major toy retailers later that month, and Sega completely pulled the game from shelves the following January. Let’s be honest, it wasn’t very good, anyway.

#3: “Manhunt” series (2003-07)


If the Senate committee thought “Night Trap” was violent, they’d probably have a heart attack upon seeing “Manhunt.” Both games in this series involve you hunting down various people and killing them in the most brutal fashions imaginable. The violence even made various developers uncomfortable, with a Rockstar employee claiming that they “crossed a line.” The original game was banned in New Zealand and was blamed for the murder of Stefan Pakeerah. Its sequel was rated AO, one of few games given the infamous rating due to violence alone, and the Wii version was called a murder simulator due to the player’s interactivity with the killings.

#2: “Mortal Kombat” series (1992-)


While the “Mortal Kombat” series has remained controversial throughout the years due to its extreme violence, nothing even comes close to the uproar that the original game caused in 1992. At the time, video game violence like this was unheard of, and the reaction towards this game was so panicked and outraged that it helped lead to the creation of the ESRB (along with the aforementioned “Night Trap”). The series has also garnered controversy from a variety of other angles, including allegations of sexism and racism, inappropriate TV commercials, and being blamed for various tragedies like Columbine and Sandy Hook. Who knew a simple fighting game could cause so much outrage?

Before we unveil our top picks, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Chiller” (1986)

“Bully” (2006)

#1: “Grand Theft Auto” series (1997-)


We’re pretty sure that this series has been the subject of every type of controversy imaginable. GTA was controversial from the outset, with the first entry in the series being banned in Brazil due to its violence. However, the controversy REALLY started when the series moved to 3D with the release of “Grand Theft Auto III.” Since then it has been the subject of numerous controversies, including, but certainly not limited to: violence in video games, sexual abuse, graphic sexual acts, racism, sexism, drug use, drinking and driving, full frontal nudity, and interactive torture. Really, just think of a controversy. Chances are, GTA has been at the center of it.
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