As one of the world’s largest entertainment industries, video gaming has inevitably come under scrutiny from fans, parents, and even world governments. Some games have been singled out for featuring excessively violent content, whereas others are accused of having Satanic roots or influencing real world crimes. Over the years, these games have earned a reputation as being some of the most controversial video games ever made, and we decided to compile the most notorious of them all in one place.
Without further ado, here are Game Rant’s 10 Most Controversial Video Games Ever.
Bully released at a time when Rockstar Games was already facing a lot of scrutiny from the public due to controversial games like Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt. Perhaps because of the studio’s reputation to create games with extreme graphic violence and sexual themes, many assumed the same of Bully, but when the game actually hit store shelves, gamers discovered an emotionally-charged tale that was rather tame when compared to Rockstar’s previous efforts. Even so, Bully was still controversial, due to some believing it glorified bullying, and others taking issue with the main character being able to kiss other boys. Despite the controversies surrounding the game, it was still very popular, with many holding out for a Bully sequel one day.
Public concern over video game violence seemed to be an all-time high in the 90s, with games like Doom coming under fire for their graphic violence, Satantic themes, and gore. Doom‘s controversy extends beyond its own violent content, though, as the game was also blamed for influencing the mass shooters that committed the horrific Columbine high school massacre.
While all the Grand Theft Auto games are controversial to some degree, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is arguably the most controversial game in the series to date. Not only did it feature the violence and drug use typical of Grand Theft Auto, but it also featured a full-on sex scene, hidden away in the game’s code. The only way to access this infamous “Hot Coffee” scene was to mod the game, but it was still enough to get San Andreas slapped with the rare Adults Only rating and temporarily pulled from most store shelves.
Mass murders are terrible events, and many would argue that it is outright offensive to build a game around the concept of playing as a mass murderer. Well, the developers of Hatred decided to do just that, putting players in the role of a merciless psychopath. Criticized for its tasteless subject matter, some digital storefronts outright refused to sell Hatred because of its content.
Rockstar Games, apparently not content with the controversy it earned from creating the Grand Theft Auto series, decided to make Manhunt next. Manhunt and its sequel task players with offing enemies in the most gruesome ways possible, earning the games their reputation as some of the most violent video games of all time.
Manhunt could earn a spot on this list for its violent content alone, but as it turns out, its controversy goes deeper than that. In 2004, the game was mistakenly linked to the real world murder of a 14 year old boy, with various media outlets pointing to Manhunt as a main influence on the killer’s actions. In the years since, it was proven that the victim was actually the one playing Manhunt, not his murderer, but the fact that the game was linked to a real world murder at all speaks volumes about its content.