Practically since they first went on the market, video games have been controversial. One of the recurring complaints is that video games encourage violent and extreme behavior - a notion that research has repeatedly disproven.
But some video games cause genuine controversy. With thousands of games released each year, a handful of them go far outside the bounds of good taste and conventionally acceptable subject matter. Often, games like these lead to widespread public outcry, and usually - though not always - developers adjust the games accordingly or flat-out cancel them.
Here are some legitimate modern video game controversies.
- 191 VOTES
'Active Shooter,' AKA 'Standoff' (2018) - You Can Play As A School Shooter
Active Shooter is another game that has the dubious distinction of being removed from Steam. The game portrays a fictional school shooting and allows players to play as both law enforcement and the school shooters.
When Valve removed the game, it noted that both its developer, Revived Games, and publisher, ACID, were the same person, Ata Berdiyev, who had previously been caught selling a bootleg Rick and Morty game. Valve described Berdiyev as a "troll."
- 287 VOTES
'R*pe Day' (2019) - The Title Alone
Games that glorify violent and antisocial behavior for shock value have existed for decades, and one recent example was 2019's R*pe Day. The game is a "visual novel"-style RPG set during the zombie apocalypse where you play as a serial killer r*pist.
The game originally debuted on Steam, but fans around the world quickly expressed their disapproval on social media and through petitions, leading Valve to remove the game.
- Photo: Serious Games Interactive380 VOTES
'Playing History 2 - Slave Trade' (2013) - 'Tetris Mode’ Involved Fitting As Many Enslaved People Onto A Boat As Possible
Playing History 2 - Slave Trade is a 3D adventure/historical simulator that depicts the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and one of the minigames involves stacking human beings into a cargo hold like Tetris pieces.
When a Steam sale brought the game to the public's attention in 2015, its publisher, Serious Games Interactive, agreed to remove the "Tetris" mode.
- 470 VOTES
'Survival Island 3: Australia Story 3D' (2015) - The White Protagonist Must Kill Indigenous Australians
Survival Island 3: Australia Story 3D is an independent, survival-themed game that depicts Australia's colonial history, a period of violent oppression against its indigenous peoples. Among other activities in the game, the white protagonist can hunt and kill indigenous characters.
After public outcry, including a petition of 90,000 signatures, the Apple Store and Google took the game off their sites. When Vice tracked down the game's developer, it turned out to be a 42-year-old in Siberia who claimed he had no intention of offending anyone.
"This is not an Australian game maker who knows a lot about Aboriginal history and has done something racist," said Georgia Mantle, who started the petition for the game to be removed. "It still is racist, but it has come from ignorance."
- Photo: 3D Realms572 VOTES
'Ion Fury' (2019) - Sued By Iron Maiden For Trademark Infringement; Also Had Homophobic Text
Ion Fury was a 2019 shooter modeled after the classic '90s series Duke Nukem. Things got off to a rough start when the band Iron Maiden sued publisher 3D Realms over the game's original title, Ion Maiden.
Then, fans objected to homophobic text. The developers were later accused of making insensitive comments on Discord, including jokes about mental health.
In response, 3D Realms patched out the offending content. Then, it revised its contracts with developers, allowing it to sever a relationship in the event of a breach of the code of conduct about hate speech. They also made a $10,000 donation to the Trevor Project.
- Photo: Activision
No discussion of video game controversies is complete without mentioning the "No Russian" level of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. In the level, the player has infiltrated an international terror cell, and in order to convince the terrorists he's not an intelligence officer, the player has to participate in an airport massacre. The level won't progress unless the player actively shoots innocent civilians.
While the level is definitely shocking and has been met with some amount of public outcry, it was not removed from the game.