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This is a list of video games described explicitly as "controversial" in secondary sources. Some of the video games on this list have been banned or censored.

Table of controversial games

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Release date Title Platform Manufacturer Reason(s)
1976 Death Race Arcade Exidy Violence (running over stickmen "gremlins," who then scream)[1][2]
1982 Custer's Revenge Atari 2600 Mystique Nudity, rape, and racism[1][3][4]
1991 J.B. Harold Murder Club TurboGrafx-16 NEC Sexual themes, rape[citation needed]
1992-Present Mortal Kombat series Arcade Midway Violence and gore[1][3][4][5][6][7]
1992 Lethal Enforcers Arcade Konami Violence
1992 Night Trap Sega CD Digital Pictures Violence[1][3][5] and sexual themes.
1992 Wolfenstein 3D PC id Software Heavy amount of references to Nazism, such as high usages of the swastika in its levels and the anthem of the Nazi Party anthem and Horst-Wessel-Lied as theme music, which caused the PC version to be confiscated in Germany in 1994.[citation needed]
1993 Doom PC id Software Violence, gore, and Satanic themes[1][4][5][6]
1996 SimCopter PC Maxis A programmer named Jacques Servin introduced unauthorized "himbo" characters into the game, who would appear on certain dates and kiss.[8]
1996-Present Tomb Raider series PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Xbox 360, Sega Saturn, Nintendo GameCube, Wii Eidos an unauthorized code which allowed players to play as a nude version of Lara Croft.[9]
1997 Carmageddon PC, Mac, N64, PS1 SCi, Interplay Entertainment Violence (against pedestrians)[10]
1997 Postal PC Ripcord Games Violence[5]
1997-present Grand Theft Auto series PC, PS1, PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox 360 Rockstar Games Sexual themes, rape, violence (against civilians and law enforcment officers), criminal behavior. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was originally rated "Mature" in the US, but was re-rated "Adults Only" after controversy surrounding a fanmade "hot coffee mod" which unlocked a hidden sex scene (which was in the game's code, but left out of the final version). It was re-rated "Mature" after Rockstar Games removed this scene from the game's code. Grand Theft Auto IV was referred to as a "terrorist simulator" due to it containing an exact replica of an American city.[1][3][5][11]
1998 Thrill Kill PlayStation Virgin Interactive Violence and sexuality. Was never released.[citation needed]
1999 Kingpin: Life of Crime PC Interplay Entertainment Violence[12]
2002 BMX XXX Xbox, PS2, GCN Acclaim Entertainment Nudity (censored in the PS2 version) and sexuality.[citation needed]
2002 Ethnic Cleansing PC Resistance Records Racially-motivated violence, white supremacist themes[13]
2002 State of Emergency PC, PS2, Xbox Rockstar Games Military-style violence, including political assassinations and coup d'etats. Additionally, the game caused controversy in Washington due to the game's similarities to the World Trade Organization riots in Seattle.[14]
2003 Manhunt and Manhunt 2 PS2 Rockstar Games Violence (allowed player to take the role of a serial killer). Gained significant controversy after it was alleged that the game inspired a teenager to commit a murder. Banned in Australia.[3][5][15]
2003 Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball Xbox Tecmo Nudity and sexuality[4]
2004 The Guy Game PlayStation 2, Xbox Top Heavy Studios Nudity[3]
2004 The Sims 2 PC EA Games Nudity (with a cheat enabled, a "blur" that appears when a character is nude was removed)[16]
2004 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox Rockstar Games An unauthorized "Hot Coffee" mod unlocked a hidden sex scene left out of the game's final version. Was briefly re-rated "Adults Only" by the ESRB, but had a "Mature" rating reinstated after Rockstar Games removed this scene from the game's code.[17]
2005 Super Columbine Massacre RPG! PC Danny Ledonne The game simulated the events of the Columbine High School shootings.[18][19][20][21]
2006 Bully PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, Wii Rockstar Games Violence in a school setting[5]
2006 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Xbox 360, PC Bethesda Softworks Re-rated by the ESRB after a third-party mod revealed a nude topless graphic hidden in the game's data files. While the graphic did not warrant a re-rating of the game in and of itself, upon review, the ESRB noted that the game contained much more explicit violence than had been submitted to them in the original rating submission.[22]
2006 Hitman: Blood Money PC, PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360 IO Interactive Violence and assassinations; magazine ads for the game featured pictures depicting murder victims [23]
2006 Mind Quiz Nintendo DS, Playstation Portable Ubisoft Recalled in the United Kingdom due to use of the word "spastic," which is considered highly offensive in the UK.[24]
2006 Left Behind: Eternal Forces PC Left Behind Games Accusations that the game promoted religious "convert or kill" violence, sexism and racism.[25][26][27] Some reviewers[28][29][30] denied that the game contained any truly controversial gameplay.
2006 Resistance: Fall of Man PS3 Insomniac Games 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.[31]
2006 Rule of Rose PS2 505 Games The mayor of Rome called for the game to be banned from Italy, saying children "have the right to be shielded from violence".[32] The then European Union justice and security commissioner wrote an open letter condemning the game for "obscene cruelty and brutality". An Italian magazine, Panorama, claimed that in order to win the game players must bury a girl alive which the game's European publisher disputed.[33] On the UK release day, the publisher announced that Rule of Rose would not be published in the UK, despite the game being approved for release by the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) and Video Standards Council regulatory bodies.[34]
2007 BioShock Xbox 360, PC, PS3 2K Games An article in The Patriot Ledger, the local paper of developer Irrational Games,[35] argued that the game is "testing the limits of the ultraviolent gaming genre with a strategy that enables players to kill characters resembling young girls."[36] The game presents an ethical choice to players, whether to kill 'Little Sisters' for extra abilities or save them and receive less. 2K president Ken Levine defended the game as a piece of art, stating "we want to deal with challenging moral issues and if you want to do that, you have to go to some dark places".[37] Jack Thompson took issue with advertisements for the game appearing during WWE SmackDown's airtime, writing to the Federal Trade Commission and stating that M-rated games should not be advertised when large numbers of under-17s are watching.[38]
2007 Mass Effect Xbox 360, PC BioWare Falsely accused by evangelical blogger Kevin McCullough on of containing "rape and sodomy", which later led to the removal of McCullough's blog entry on Game was featured on Fox News following the controversy. [39] as well as by Fox News host Martha MacCallum of including "full graphic sex".[40] In actuality, the game's most explicit content is an indirect shot of a humanoid alien breast.[41]
2007 Mario Party 8 Wii Nintendo Use of the phrase "Turn the train spastic! Make this ticket tragic!" by the character Magikoopa caused controversy in the United Kingdom, where the word spastic is considered offensive. This led to a recall of the game; it was later re-released with the word changed to erratic.[42]
2008 Muslim Massacre: The Game of Modern Religious Genocide PC Eric 'Sigvatr' Vaughn The game's contents and subject have been the subject of strong negative response; a spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain, said "The makers of this 'game' and the ISPs [Internet service providers] who are hosting it should be quite ashamed of themselves. Anti-Muslim prejudice is already on the increase and needs to be challenged and not reinforced through tasteless and offensive stunts like this."[43]
2009 MadWorld Wii Platinum Games Violence[44]
2009 Resident Evil 5 PS3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows Capcom A pre-release trailer was said to contain scenes "that dovetailed with classic racist imagery",[45] according to Newsweek journalist N’Gai Croal in an April 2008 interview. He also stated that organizations and retailers would object to the game and that it would cause controversy on release.[45]
2009 Saw PS3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows Konami Several news publishings stated that the game's only purpose was to torture and kill 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"[46] It was also listed in the "Top ten most controversial games of 2009".[47]
2009 Left 4 Dead 2 Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows (Steam) Valve Corporation The cover art in the UK had to be altered due to a potentially offensive hand gesture being depicted.[48] The game was banned in Australia for its excessive violence and gore.[49] The game's New Orleans setting so soon after Hurricane Katrina was considered "a bad call".[50] Finally, Left 4 Dead 2 was accused of being racist after incorporating black infected into the game, Valve quickly stated this was only for population diversification purposes.[51]
2009 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 Infinity Ward A level in the game entitled "No Russian" has the player assume control of a deep cover Central Intelligence Agency agent, joining a group of Russian nationalist terrorists in enacting an airport massacre. The player is given the option to skip the level at any point.[52][53] The game was discussed briefly in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom after the issue was brought to the attention of MP Keith Vaz, a long time opponent of violence in video games, with fellow Labour Party politician Tom Watson arguing that the level was "no worse than scenes in many films and books" and criticising Vaz for "collaborating with the Daily Mail to create moral panic over the use of video games".[54] The mission was removed in the Russian version of the game.[55]
2010 Six Days in Fallujah PS3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh None The game was opposed by both the public and critics alike for "Glamorizing" and "Glossing over" the real-life Battle of Fallujah. This caused the former publisher, Konami, to oppose the game and stop publishing it.[56]


  1. ^ a b c d e f David Craddock, "The Rogues Gallery: Controversial Video Games," Shacknews (Sep 29, 2005).
  2. ^ DeMaria, Rusel; Wilson, Johnny L. (2003). High Score!: The Illustrated History of Electronic Games. McGraw-Hill Professional. pp. 27,28. ISBN 0072231726. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f ; Fecal Jesus, "The Seven Most Controversial Games and why most of them are complete crap," GamerHelp (02/14/08).
  4. ^ a b c d Kearney, Paul; Pivec, Maja (May 2007). "Sex, lies and video games". British Journal of Educational Technology 38 (3): 489–501. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2007.00712.x. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Silverman, Ben (2007-09-17). "Controversial Games: Some games push all the wrong buttons.". Yahoo! Games. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  6. ^ a b Oxoby, Marc; Browne, Ray (2003). The 1990s. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 84. ISBN 0313316155. 
  7. ^ Williams, D. (December 2003). "The Video Game Lightning Rod". Information, Communication and Society 6: 541. doi:10.1080/1369118032000163240. Retrieved 2006-07-23. 
  8. ^ "The First Hot Coffee". PC Gamer (Future Publishing): p. 62. March 2007. 
  9. ^ Lara Croft: Feminist Icon or Cyberbimbo?, Helen W. Kennedy, Game Studies, Vol. 2, Issue 2, December 2002.
  10. ^ "The Making Of... Carmageddon". Edge Online. 2008-06-27. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  11. ^ Wilkinson, Cassandra (2007). Don't Panic!: Nearly Everything is Better Than You Think. Pluto Press Australia. pp. 144–147. ISBN 0980292441. 
  12. ^ Video Game Maker Drawing Fire for Violent Ads. Los Angeles Times. June 29, 1999
  13. ^ Julia Scheeres (2002-02-20). "Games Elevate Hate to Next Level". Wired. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  14. ^ "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly". Game Informer 11 (100): 17. August 2001. 
  15. ^ Schiesel, Seth (2007-10-29). "Under Glare of Scrutiny, a Game Is Toned Down". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 
  16. ^ "'Sims' content criticized". 2005-07-28. Retrieved 2010-01-12. 
  17. ^ Androvich, Mark (2007-11-08). "Take-Two settles "Hot Coffee" lawsuits". Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  18. ^ Holmes, T.J.; Betty Nguyen (November 7, 2007). "Transcripts - CNN Sunday Morning". CNN. Retrieved December 10, 2008. 
  19. ^ Hung, Yee (June 12, 2007). "Exploiting grief; bad taste, it appears, makes money". The Straits Times: p. 1. 
  20. ^ Thompson, Clive (July 23, 2006). "Saving The World, One Video Game At a Time". The New York Times: p. 1. 
  21. ^ Townsend, Emru (October 23, 2006). "The 10 Worst Games of All Time". PC World.,127579-page,3-c,games/article.html. Retrieved October 7, 2008. 
  22. ^ Zenke, Michael (2007-06-19). ""Boobies Did Not Break the Game": The ESRB Clears the Air On Oblivion". The Escapist. Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ Mind Quiz Yanked in UK for Offensive Term
  25. ^ Musgrove, Mike (2006-08-17). "Fire and Brimstone, Guns and Ammo". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  26. ^ Greene, Richard (2006-12-14). "Christian video game draws anger". BBC. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  27. ^ Tapper, Jake; Miller, Avery (2006-12-04). "Faith-Based Killing? Critics Rip Christian Video Game". ABC News. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  28. ^ IGN: Left Behind: Eternal Forces review
  29. ^ Ars Technica: Left Behind: Eternal Forces review
  30. ^ GameSpy: Left Behind: Eternal Forces review
  31. ^ Bramwell, Tom (2007-06-11). "Church of England attacks use of cathedral in PS3's Resistance". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
  32. ^ Bramwell, Tom (2006-11-15). "Rome mayor wants game banned". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  33. ^ Gibson, Ellie (2006-11-17). "505 Games responds to Rule of Rose controversy". Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  34. ^ Martin, Matt (2006-11-24). "505 Games cans Rule of Rose". Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  35. ^ "BioShock draws attention for 'killing' little girls". Gamepro. 2007-08-24. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
  36. ^ Orland, Kyle (2007-08-23). "BioShock's Little Sister killing gets mainstream GFDDSFDFattention". Joystiq. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
  37. ^ Fahey, Mike (2007-08-25). "Killing Little Girls". Kotaku. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
  38. ^ "Jack Thompson Shocked by Bioshock TV Ads". Game Politics. 2007-08-19. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
  39. ^ "Blog Archive » Conservative Blogger Claims ''Mass Effect'' Offers “Customizable Sodomy”". Retrieved 2009-03-24. 
  40. ^ Schiesel, Seth (2008-01-26). "Author Faults a Game, and Gamers Flame Back". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  41. ^ "Mass Effect Hits PC On May 6. Alien Sideboob Ahoy!". 2008-02-07. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  42. ^ "'Spastic' video game is recalled". 
  43. ^ "'Muslim Massacre' computer game blasted in Britain". ABC News. 2008-09-13. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
  44. ^ "Parents horrified as most violent video game ever to launch on 'family friendly' Wii". Mail Online. 2008-12-08. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  45. ^ a b John, Tracey (2008-04-10). "Newsweek’s N’Gai Croal On The ‘Resident Evil 5′ Trailer: ‘This Imagery Has A History’". MTV. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  46. ^ "Editorial: SAW Game Is Depraved And Inhumane; Konami Should Be Ashamed". Cinemablend. 2009-07-28. Retrieved 2009-09-07. 
  47. ^ "Most Controversial Games of 2009". Game Daily. 2009-10-08. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  48. ^ Amrich, Dan (July 2, 2009). "Only on Xbox 360: Left 4 Dead 2". Official Xbox Magazine UK (Future Publishing) (49): 43. 
  49. ^ Ramadge, Andrew (2009-09-17). "Left 4 Dead 2 refused classification in Australia".,28348,26086374-5014239,00.html. Retrieved 2009-09-17. 
  50. ^ Jefferson, Willie (2009-07-14). "Racism in video games: The new norm?". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-07-30. 
  51. ^ Sterling, Jim (2009-07-30). "Valve responds to Left 4 Dead 2 racism accusations". Destructoid. Retrieved 2009-07-30. 
  52. ^ Kietzmann, Ludwig (2009-10-28). "New Modern Warfare: Airport Murder Simulator 2 video game glorifies terrorism". Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  53. ^ Crecente, Brian (2009-10-28). "Modern Warfare 2 Features Skippable Scene of Atrocities - Modern warfare 2 - Kotaku". Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  54. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster (2009-11-09). "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 09 Nov 2009 (pt 0002)". Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  55. ^ "Russians ban Modern Warfare 2 console versions for 'No Russian' mission - Neoseeker Forums". Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  56. ^ Iraq War video game branded 'crass and insensitive' by father of Red Cap killed in action


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