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Most Controversial Video Games That Have Ever Been Released

Updated October 16, 2020 7.0k votes 1.2k voters 64.2k views15 items

List RulesVote up the controversial video games you can't believe got made.

Just like every other form of entertainment, video games have not been immune from stirring up media storms. Ever since the first games were released, certain portions of society have looked down upon them and tried to blame particular crimes on their influence. This has been particularly true of violent games that some have claimed are able to incite aggression in players. It is little wonder then that there have been so many controversial video games.

Violent games, like first person shooters, are not the only type of video games that upset people. Some are wildly inappropriate video games that should never have been released because of the content they contained. Others were controversial because they included themes that some found offensive, such as titles that seemingly supported the LGBT community. In some instances, a game might have led to anger for no logical reason whatsoever. Whatever the case, check out these games that caused a ton of controversy when they were released, and vote up the ones that blatantly crossed the line. 

  • Created by the same team behind the Grand Theft Auto series, Manhunt is arguably the most controversial of all the Rockstar franchises. The main problem with the game is the sadistic and graphic ways in which the player has to kill his opponents. Many felt that these violent acts would encourage copycats, and some even blamed the game for a murder in the UK. Despite protests by politicians around the world, the developer even went on to create a sequel that was just as controversial.

  • Duke Nukem Forever Depicts Women As Sex Objects
    Photo: 2K Games

    It would be reasonable to expect that if gamers were going to get upset over Duke Nukem Forever, it would be because of its decade-long development cycle, rather than the content. That was not the case, though. Many users were put off by the striking sexism present in the game.

    Not only are women treated as nothing more than sex objects, but one game mode seemed to promote violence against them. The “Capture the Babe” mode has players carry females to their base. It also gave players the option of slapping them on the bottom if they freaked out. Despite the series always having a somewhat immature attitude towards women, some critics felt this went too far. 

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  • Considering how much violence is present in every Grand Theft Auto game, it might surprise you to learn that the biggest controversy for the series came from a sex act. The “hot coffee” mode gave PC players the chance to unlock mini-games present in the code of San Andreas. These centered on sex scenes that users could play through between the main protagonist and other women. While they were inaccessible during normal gameplay, the fact they were still technically in the game led to the ESRB opening an investigation. Some stores also refused to sell the game. 

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  • Rockstar’s open world adventure game, Bully, was released in 2006. It is essentially a Grand Theft Auto game set in a prep school. As is the case with many of Rockstar's games, the title received a large amount of criticism almost immediately upon release for its depiction of violence and the apparent trivializing of bullying. Parents were also concerned that a game by Rockstar was seemingly being marketed to younger audiences. Charities and organizations around the world condemned Bully and certain stores even refused to stock the game on their shelves.