Gaming

Top 5 most famous banned video games of all-time

by Wyatt Donigan

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As video games have evolved over the last decade, certain ones have drawn the ire from many due to their violent and graphic subject matter. We've compiled a list of the five games that have gotten the most backlash from the community. 

The interactive nature of games has made them a prime target for critics, who claim to represent the interests of children and teenagers. Interactive violence, they say, leads to actual violence.

While the research on this topic has yet to provide a conclusive answer, numerous governments have taken action to ban games they deemed too violent or too inappropriate for the younger mind. Some titles have been subjected to more attacks than others.

Rockstar
Rockstar
Video games have long garnered plenty of backlash for featuring violent content and characters.

Some have even left their mark in the history of gaming as especially violent and ban-worthy. They have been written into the All-Time Hall of Infamy.  

Of course, the bans were no match for the freedom provided by the internet. Gamers used all kinds of tools to overcome these restrictions. For example, a good VPN service allows you to access titles restricted in your country with ease.

But for many gamers, the bans themselves are not the main point. The issue, from their point of view, is that certain groups of people are trying to impose their moral views on the creativity of others. This has been an ongoing debate that will go on for quite a while if the current trends are of any indication.

Here are the TOP 5 games that stand at the forefront of this discussion.

Rockstar
Rockstar
Grand Theft Auto has gotten a lot of flack over the years, with San Andreas being one of the worst offenders.

1) Grand Theft Auto

It’s impossible to make a list of controversial games without referencing the GTA franchise. Every time a new game from the series comes out, it’s surrounded by controversy. 

There are various legal issues regarding it. For example, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was banned in Australia because of a modded sex mini-game.

But for the most part, critics have focused on the violent nature of the series and the way it glorifies criminal life. Each GTA game puts the player in the role of a career criminal involved in car theft, kidnapping, murder, drugs, and more. 

Some parts of GTA were banned and/or censored in countries like Brazil, China, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, and many others

Netherrealm Studios
Netherrealm Studios
Mortal Kombat has been one of the most controversial games

2) Mortal Kombat

The original offender, the granddaddy of violent games. A fighting franchise with a history spanning several decades, Mortal Kombat has not escaped its fair share of issues. 

The games quickly became known for their over-the-top violence and aggression. Many countries took a defensive stance toward early entries in the franchise and banned them from distribution.

For example, Germany deemed Mortal Kombat II harmful to young people and has banned many MK titles since. This may have posed a problem back in 1994, but today, German gamers can access the full uncensored version with the help of a VPN, too.

It should be noted, though, that things have relaxed a bit in recent times. The global media has stopped paying attention to the series to a large extent. 

As it has also happened with profanity on the TV show South Park, people just kind of got used to the absurd violence of Mortal Kombat. There hasn’t been a major incident surrounding the game in a very long time, and most outlets seem to have forgotten about the franchise.

Speaking of South Park.

South Park is no stranger to controversy, and the games were no different.

3) South Park

It should be no surprise that a South Park game was criticized for its controversial nature. Even less so when one considers that Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of the TV show, were directly involved in its production. 

The game series, spanning two games released on console and PC in addition to Phone Destroyer for mobile (we’re counting only the good ones), managed to offend nearly everyone upon its release. 

From mocking religions to using sex and violence as a platform for jokes, the games pushed every button.

The first edition of South Park: The Stick of Truth was never sold in Europe in its original version. The producers were forced to censor parts of the story in response to demands from the European Union. 

They still managed to insert a snarky remark in their usual style referencing the situation, however. It was a major controversy around the time of the game’s release. Many were surprised that a South Park game could face legal issues in the current day, and yet it happened.

Rockstar
Rockstar
Rockstar continued their trend of releasing controversial games with their Manhunt series.

4) Manhunt

The basic premise of Manhunt is one of the most controversial ones ever brought to the table. The player assumes control of a murderer on a violent rampage. The main gameplay revolves around finding the most brutal way to execute each person on the level. 

There’s a strong focus on melee weapons, with a large variety of “tools” for the player to use. From baseball bats to broken glass shards, some have described this game as a psychopath’s dream. 

It was banned in several countries immediately upon release and remains unavailable in many of them to this day. Fun fact, the official court in Munich confiscated all versions of Manhunt, since it glorified vigilantism and portrayed killing as a fun activity.

Things got worse when the sequel came out and was made available on the Nintendo Wii. The console featured an innovative control scheme that allowed players to simulate using their hands in many titles. 

The controls of Wii combined with the gameplay of Manhunt prompted many critics to put their foot down. The developers were forced to tone down the violent content of the game before releasing it. An uncensored version still found its way to the internet sometime later and added to the controversy.

Running With Scissors
Running With Scissors
Before Grand Theft Auto was released, Postal was the king of violent games.

5) Postal

The basic premise of Postal was supposed to be humorous (albeit in a dark way). But the actual execution of the game was seen as too violent and tasteless by many. 

It depicts an average person going about everyday tasks before going crazy – or “postal.” Most levels involve going on a rampage around ordinary neighborhoods and causing mayhem to their residents. 

Postal 2 was the installment that took the franchise to another level by being played entirely in first-person and upping the violence considerably.

Unsurprisingly, Postal 2 was banned in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Germany, Sweden.

But the real punishment came when the series was eventually turned into a movie by the controversial German director Uwe Boll. The film received a lot of criticism, with reports that even the original game’s creators were disappointed by it. In any case, Postal managed to move beyond the controversy and has even received some updates in the last few years.



Rockstar Games
Rockstar Games
It's likely that the debate over violent video games will never go away.

The Takeaway

In the years since the release of many of these games, things seem to have calmed down to a large extent. Or have they?

Whenever new elections are around the corner, or the media seem to be having a slow day (or month), they all remember violent games. So while game developers are becoming bolder and more relaxed in the themes they pursue, it wouldn’t be surprising if another controversy was brewing right this moment.

Games are more immersive than any other medium. They provide a wonderful interactive experience for the gamers. But for the uninitiated, games are an easy target when they can’t think of any other.