A lot of bad things go on in the world today, and the media is always looking for a scapegoat. Once upon a time it was film, then it was music, and now it's our beloved video games. Politicians and certain ill-educated members of the media will blame video games for anything they can, be it murder, rape or even seemingly unrelated diseases such as rickets. The list that follows is 10 of the most controversial games of all time, and the reasons they whipped up such a storm.
Mortal Kombat - SNES, Mega Drive
Before the processing power of the PSone and N64, violent video games were a rare breed. In this respect, you could consider Mortal Kombat a pioneer of video game violence. It featured realistic character models, devastating 'finisher' moves, and more blood than a slaughter house. It's widely accepted that the controversy surrounding the launch of the game was what prompted the formation of the ESRB.
When Resident Evil 5 was announced, the media backlash was astounding. "You can't have black zombies!? That's racist!" was the point at the crux of the argument. Of course, it wasn't really racist at all. It was just a game set in Africa, with black zombies as opposed to white ones. The whole argument was ridiculous.
For the most part, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is no more controversial than any other war-based shooter. One particular level, however, managed to earn the game a place on this exclusive list. 'No Russian' allowed players to join a team of terrorists as they stormed a Russian Airport. With movement restricted to that of a casual walk, the game forced players to bear witness to the murder of hundreds of innocent civilians. Saying this, the player's character was in fact an undercover agent (a good guy), and you could complete the level without killing a single innocent person. You also had the option to skip the sequence entirely if you wanted to.
Bully (or Canis Canem Edit as it got changed to) was a game set in an American school, but didn't put players in the role of a bully as such. Anti-bullying campaigners were outraged at the game anyway, pointing out that it 'glorified bullying'. As well as this, Bully allowed main character Jimmy Hopkins to kiss certain boys in the school, stirring up all kinds of hullabaloo for completely different reasons.
Custer's Revenge - Atari 2600
The oldest game on this list by a country mile, Custer's Revenge relied on the most basic of visuals to portray pornography, sexism and even rape. Taking control of the naked General Custer (who sports a rather impressive erection) players must avoid incoming arrow fire as they guide the character from one side of the screen to the other, where a naked native American woman is waiting. Points are amassed by literally 'scoring' with this poor woman, even if it's against her will. How this game ever got released is anybody's guess.
Carmageddon, 'the racing game for the chemically unbalanced' was a destruction derby-esque racer that allowed players to mow down innocent pedestrians in their quest to reach the finish line first. One of the first games to earn an 18 rating, Carmageddon was banned completely by some countries, including Brazil. Nobody bats an eyelid when pedestrians are knocked down in video games today, which although scary in itself, proves that the industry is indeed maturing.
The controversy that surrounded the original Mass Effect is the perfect example of just how little politicians and non-entertainment journalists know about the video game medium. In a comment that outraged gaming communities across the web, conservative blogger Kevin McCullough said "virtual orgasmic rape is just the push of a button away". If Kevin had actually taken the time to play the game, he'd have realised that Mass Effect handled sex in an incredibly mature and sensitive manner. Yes, even the human on alien lesbian stuff.
Two words, people: Hot Coffee. The words still sting with controversy even today, six years down the line. If you haven't heard of it before, the hot coffee mod was a mini-game that could be 'unlocked' in the PC version of GTA: San Andreas, allowing the main character to have sex with his in-game girlfriend. The term 'hot coffee' was coined due to this girlfriend asking the main character CJ into her home for coffee - a less than subtle euphemism for sex.
Super Columbine Massacre RPG! - PC
Created by Danny Ledonne, Super Columbine Massacre RPG! (SCMRPG) recreated the horrors of the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in the form of a 2D RPG. The reason this was controversial needs no explanation, but the game offered an interesting insight into the shootings from a totally different perspective, and has seen just as much praise as it has criticism. Ledonne has since paved the way for other developers to follow, and today there are numerous (mostly indie) games that tackle sensitive, real world issues.
Manhunt is widely regarded as the most violent video game of all time; you can suffocate enemies with plastic bags, plunge knives into faces and cave heads in with baseball bats. Even so, underneath all the violence is an incredibly accomplished stealth game. Manhunt 2, however, seemed to use violence for violence sake, and became the first game to be banned in Britain. The BBFC commented on the game's 'unremitting bleakness' and encouragement of 'casual sadism'. Because of this, Manhunt 2 is generally accepted to be one of, if not the most controversial game of all time. It was, however, eventually released; even on the family focussed Wii.
Have you ever been shocked or offended by the content of a video game? If we missed it out, why not let us know in the comments section below.