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Controversies over video games extend almost as far back in history as video games themselves. Common topics of the controversy include the effects of in-game violence, whether video gaming qualifies as an art form, and the portrayal of demographics within games.
List of Controversial Video Games
- One of the first video games to make a major stir in the news was 1992's Mortal Kombat. This fighting game was remarkable during its time for an excessive amount of blood and gory scenes. The controversy surrounding this seires of games helped lead to the creation of the ESRB ratings board.
- Capcom's Saturn game Resident Evil was met with some controversy, due to its horror themes and various instances of violence. Portions of the game were edited at points, but the Director's Cut of the game was left intact.
- Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series has a long and troubled relationship with so-called "Moral Guardians." Entries in the series has successfully been banned in several countries, with the most notable example being the banning of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in the United States until certain aspects of the game were removed from future releases.
- 2000's Mother 3 was controversial at the time it came out for a number of reasons. For one, it was published by Nintendo, a company well-known for releasing children-friendly games. In fact, Mother 3 was the first Nintendo game to warrant a "Mature" rating, for its themes of drug-induced nightmares, depression, and suicide.
Video Game Bans by Country
Various countries have banned specific or, in some cases, entire categories of video games in the past, often due to the perceived moral corruption of games. The banning of games has been widely opposed by various businesses, governments, organizations, and individuals.
Australia is possibly more notorious for banning games than any other Western country. This is due in part to the lack of an "Adult" rating for games, instead having the highest rating of MA15+. This was in contrast to films, which could receive a higher rating of R18+. This essentially led to the banning of all "Mature" games unless they were altered to meet Australian standards. Therefore, many games in Australia remove offensive imagery, tone down violence, change the color of blood to green, and so on. Notable banned games include most Grand Theft Auto titles, the Left 4 Dead series, and various horror or sex-themed games
Brazil is one of the more notorious countries for banning games, as many titles have been outlawed due to their violence. For example, the game Duke Nukem 3D was banned due to one of the game's levels vaguely resembling a real-life massacre at a movie theater. Interestingly enough, the film being shown, the violent Fight Club, was never banned.
China has a blanket ban on consoles from Japan, effectively banning all console and Game Boy games in the country. Various other games have been banned for portraying Tibet as an independent country or showing China in a less than favorable light.
Germany is the one of the most notorious countries in Europe when it comes to censoring games. Germany has a blanket ban on much Nazi imagery, forcing developers who make games based on World War 2 to either alter their games, never include historically relevant symbols, or simply never release games in Europe's second largest market for them. Various games have also been banned due to their high levels of violence, and many violent games were simply never released in the country due to fear of backlash.
Greece famously banned all electronic games in 2002, although the law was declared null soon afterwards. However, although no games are banned in Greece, it is worth noting that playing games at internet cafes is still banned.
Various Muslim countries have banned a variety of games for similar reasons. For example, many modern military shooters are banned in various countries due to their negative portrayal of Middle Eastern nations, Pokemon was banned in Saudi Arabia due to possible connections to Zionism, RPG's with homosexual characters are widely outlawed, and games with religious symbolism have been banned in places like Malaysia.
Venezuela banned virtually all shooting games in 2010. Furthermore, Hugo Chavez, the longtime President of Venezuela, famously bashed video gaming in general, claiming it was a symptom of capitalist corruption.
Video Games as Art
Portrayal of Demographics