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video games bannedVideo games have the capacity to fire off all kinds of emotion in the minds of those who play them. Gamers are very used to having their buttons pressed in order to elicit some kind of emotional response. Unfortunately some games also elicit an emotional response in those who haven’t ever played them.

Although video gaming is a relatively young hobby the industry has already seen its fair share of censorship Top 5 World News Websites Guaranteed Free From Censorship Top 5 World News Websites Guaranteed Free From Censorship Read More . Over the last 25 years there have been scores of video games banned around the world, some in individual countries, some in multiple territories, some for common sense reasons, some for nonsensical political points-scoring.

What follows is a list of 10 of the best video games banned somewhere in the world for one reason or another. It’s an eclectic mix of games that covers more genres than you’d imagine, though violent video games are, unsurprisingly, the main culprit/victim Are Video Games Good or Bad For Society? [You Told Us] Are Video Games Good or Bad For Society? [You Told Us] Video games are now commonplace, having grown from being the domain of the geekiest kids in the '70s and '80s to mainstream fare in the '90s and '00s. In the '10s you can play video... Read More .

The videos embedded within the list don’t necessarily show the scenes which led to the video games in question being banned. Instead they are there merely to give you a taste of the game and what it was about. Some were clearly developed with controversy in mind, while others were merely caught up in the tangled web that is censorship.

Wolfenstein 3D

 

Released In: 1992
Banned In: Germany
Reason For Ban: References to the Nazis

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Wolfenstein 3D is a legendary game, mainly because it (alongside Doom) popularized the first-person shooter genre Important First Person Shooters That Evolved The Genre [MUO Gaming] Important First Person Shooters That Evolved The Genre [MUO Gaming] First and third person shooters are the most popular genre in the video game world right now. Call of Duty and Halo have the charts on lock down, and games like Battlefield and Crysis are... Read More that now dominates mainstream gaming. Many of the basic tenets of the FPS genre can be seen in Wolfenstein 3D, so Call Of Duty probably wouldn’t exist without it.

The gameplay was simple, with you playing an allied spy trying to escape Castle Wolfenstein during World War II. The game was banned in Germany thanks to the Nazi references, as the Fuhrer discovers in the Hitler reaction video 10 Of The Funniest Hitler Reaction Videos (Downfall Parodies) Featuring Technology 10 Of The Funniest Hitler Reaction Videos (Downfall Parodies) Featuring Technology Downfall, or Der Untergang in German, is a film detailing the last days of World War II in April and May of 1945. It's an often uncomfortable portrayal of a dictator facing the end; of... Read More embedded above.

Mortal Kombat

 

Released In: 1992
Banned In: Australia, Brazil, South Korea
Reason For Ban: Violence

The original Mortal Kombat was a decent game that exceeded the levels of success it should have achieved thanks to the ramped-up levels of gore. Finishing moves, which saw your character killing his or her opponent off in a grisly manner, shocked politicians, owing to a ban in various countries.

Doom

 

Released In: 1993
Banned In: Brazil
Reason For Ban: Violence

Doom is, like Wolfenstein 3D, another legendary first-person shooter that set the template for all of the future titles in the genre. The gameplay was simple and to-the-point, with a gun bobbing about on screen taking demons from Hell down left, right, and center.

It was only banned in Brazil, probably because other countries realized the poor graphics and non-human combatants meant the chances of influencing young people was slight.

Carmageddon

 

Released In: 1997
Banned In: Brazil, Germany, United Kingdom
Reason For Ban: Violence

Carmageddon is a game that had violence at its very heart. You took part in a race with other drivers, but the ultimate goal is to kill as many pedestrians as possible, with extra points awarded for style.

The big issue with Carmageddon was the portrayal of humans as the victims, so an edited version of the game was released in some countries. This saw the humans turned into zombies, with the blood and gore able to be switched on or off in the options.

Football Manager 2005

 

Released In: 2004
Banned In: China
Reason For Ban: Tibet recognized as independent country

This has to count as the oddity on the list, because Football Manager 2005 isn’t violent or controversial in any possible way. Except in China, which took exception to Tibet being recognized as an independent country. The rest of the world just wanted to watch little stick figures play soccer.

Mercenaries: Playground Of Destruction

 

Released In: 2005
Banned In: South Korea
Reason For Ban: North Korea being invaded

Mercenaries: Playground Of Destruction is a third-person, open-world shooter which favors mayhem over precision. You play a mercenary entering North Korea to carry out contracts in order to make money. And it’s this fictional plot in a real-world setting that led to South Korea banning the game.

Bully

 

Released In: 2006
Banned In: Brazil
Reason For Ban: Violence in school setting

Rockstar has always used controversy as a way of ramping up interest in its games. Which is why three of their games make this list (the others being Red Dead Redemption and L.A. Noire). Grand Theft Auto GTA : 6 Great Websites For The Grand Theft Auto Aficionado GTA : 6 Great Websites For The Grand Theft Auto Aficionado Can you remember 1997? Those of you who can might also recall the hysteria, outrage and above all critical acclaim festooned on one of the most iconic and original video games of the time -... Read More didn’t make the cut even though several of the GTA titles have been banned for various reasons.

Bully details the activities of a troubled kid in a new school. Although there are lessons to be sat through, the main order of the day is to bully your way through the game, and that didn’t go down too well. In the U.K. it was renamed Canis Canem Edit to avoid negative connotations.

Heavy Rain

 

Released In: 2010
Banned In: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
Reason For Ban: Nudity, sex scene

Heavy Rain isn’t a particularly controversial game, though it is a rather unique one that sees you essentially playing through an interactive movie rather than controlling every element of the gameplay. There is some nudity and a suggested sex scene though, which led to its ban in at least two countries.

Red Dead Redemption

 

Released In: 2010
Banned In: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
Reason For Ban: Nudity, violence

In Red Dead Redemption you play a cowboy living out the Wild West experience as he hunts for the former members of his gang. As with most open-world games, and particularly those made by Rockstar, the range of activities you can get up to is mind-boggling.

Some of these activities aren’t exactly wholesome or family-friendly. You can duel with other cowboys, kill wanted men, gamble, and engage in bawdy bedroom behavior. None of which went down particularly well in a couple of countries.

L.A. Noire

 

Released In: 2011
Banned In: Saudi Arabia
Reason For Ban: Nudity

L.A. Noire is a fascinating game that ramps up the acting and visual side of things using a new technique to capture the facial expressions on the cast of actors. This means the whole thing looks and feels more real than most games, which didn’t help its appeal in some countries when there is some nudity involved (at least on corpses).

Conclusions

These games were (at the time of release) all worth playing, some because of the controversy attached to them, and some because they were actually good games. Several nailed the perfect combination of being a decent game and possessing a subject matter or gameplay element that attracted (valuable) press attention.

Have you played any of the games on this list? If so were you aware it was banned somewhere in the world? Are there any other games you think should have made the list? What is your opinion on the reasons given for some of these bans? As always we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

Image Credit: RadishTM

  1. Tommy
    April 15, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    Farm simulator didn't make the list?

  2. David Moreira
    May 13, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Just wanted to say that the videos are switched up with the titles, might want to check that out.

    As for the article, I enjoyed reading.

    • Dave Parrack
      May 13, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      How so? They all look present and correct to me, with the relevant video embedded under each title.

    • David Moreira
      May 13, 2013 at 7:44 pm

      Strange, I could swear I saw them switched with the titles...

      Nevermind then.

  3. Alex Downs
    May 1, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    RapeLay. Reason for ban: It exists and other such crimes against humanity. Banned In: Anywhere that's not Japan

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      May 2, 2013 at 3:30 am

      Aah, I remember reading about it and was horrified. Due to the banning reason not so many people know about it. Still, that was one sick game.

    • Dave Parrack
      May 3, 2013 at 12:28 am

      I considered including that but there was no way I could argue against that being banned. I wasn't sure it had even been banned though, I just didn't think there was a market for it outside of Japan.

    • Alex Downs
      May 3, 2013 at 1:07 am

      I think it was more a matter of no one was letting that leave Japan, like most other Illusion titles.

  4. Goodny33
    May 1, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    I didn't even know about this.

  5. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    May 1, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    You totally surprise me there. When I clicked the link I thought the first thing I would see would be GTA (especially San Andreas). That, at least, spurred more controversy than say, Football Manager 2005. Not meaning to question your assessment, but what's the reason you put it off the list?
    A few months after the hot coffee mod was found, media was abuzz and almost every magazine-related to gaming or not- featured this again and again, publishing dozens of interviews and got some higher-ups' eyes on gaming industry. Not to mention almost everyone with PS2 had that title (I was still in grade school back then, but everyone I knew got a copy). It was perhaps the most controversial title here. Newer titles like Heavy Rain are known only by gamers.

    • Dave Parrack
      May 1, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      The list isn't Top 10 Controversial Games though. The point was to include games you wouldn't immediately think of as worthy of a banning. It could be argued all the GTA games deserved to be banned for one reason or another.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      May 2, 2013 at 3:32 am

      That makes sense. Thank you for the clarification. The one I think is not worthy of a banning is FM2005. It's just a ridiculous excuse.

  6. Reinis Vesers
    May 1, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Carmageddon was one of my all time favorite PSone games. Slight correction - the aim of the game wasn't to kill pedestrians (well maybe there was a game mode for it, but i think not), the main goal was to destroy other cars by ramming them, pushing them off of cliffs and onto explosive barrels. As i've said, a really awesome game. But you did get extra points for killing pedestrians although it wasn't the goal of the game. I can see why it was banned though. The gore even in to the car designs (one of the cars being a Ferrari with a card-board box attached to it's back part, saying ice-cream on it and it's driver was blatantly a rapist, don't remember his name though)

    • Dave Parrack
      May 1, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      That's fair comment. I just remember that how I used to play it was to kill as many pedestrians as possible. I didn't really care about winning the race or the other competitors.

  7. Pooky Joralyn
    May 1, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    I remembered I almost threw up when playing Doom !!

    • Dave Parrack
      May 1, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      Really? Do you still play games? The realism and goriness have both been ramped up since then.

    • Pooky Joralyn
      May 1, 2013 at 11:47 pm

      That was several years ago. I got nausea after playing for just 20 minutes.

    • Dave Parrack
      May 3, 2013 at 12:26 am

      Oh, so it was more about the jerky movements? Yeah, that sucked on old games. The gameplay saved it though.

    • Pooky Joralyn
      May 3, 2013 at 8:59 am

      Maybe so, but also because I'm not familiar with ANY violence.

  8. Kannon Yamada
    May 1, 2013 at 2:24 am

    Great article, Dave!

    I think you can also add North Korea to all of these, since everything media related from the West is banned over there.

    • Dave Parrack
      May 1, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      I suspect you're right, but if I'd included North Korea this would have been one hell of a long list lol.

  9. Garey B
    May 1, 2013 at 2:19 am

    Back in the day I used to play the crap outta Postal 2 and it was banned in a few places don't know if it was ever popular enough to make a top 10 list but it was sure fun to play

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      May 1, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      It's quite well-known here. A magazine featured similar list and it made it into top ten. Five years ago, at least.

    • Dave Parrack
      May 1, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      Postal 2 was in the running to make the list, for sure!

  10. Chris Marcoe
    May 1, 2013 at 1:38 am

    That is funny. Especially the one banned in China. Really? Because Tibet is portrayed as independent? How lame is that?

    Great article, Dave.

    • Mareo
      May 1, 2013 at 2:20 pm

      I find the ones banned for reasons such as nudity or violence to be more debatable than the football game banned in China:

      - You kill sombies and pedestrians in the games but with a minimum of education and ethics you know that its a moral and legal crime to kill humans in real life. And it's been awhile since zombies have been seen in my city...
      - When you play a football game you expect it to be a mirror of reality; When you choose Barcelona as a team then surely you expect Messi to be on the team, just like in real life. Thus, a 13 year old starts browsing the team selection and boom, sees TIBET as a national team. That's a problem because it's not true. I'm not saying Tibet should or shouldn't be independant, but until it's indepedant people, specially companies, can't go around saying it's independant.

      I know most people won't pay attention to the politics when playing games but I remember that the first time I learnt that Hong Kong had National teams was in a game. And I didn't doubt that info, just took it as a fact. And good thing it was :)

    • Dave Parrack
      May 1, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      When you refer to the region of Tibet do you call it "Tibet" or do you call it "Tibetan Autonomous Region" which is what China officially deems it?

    • dragonmouth
      May 1, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      "sees TIBET as a national team. That’s a problem because it’s not true. I’m not saying Tibet should or shouldn’t be independant, but until it’s indepedant people, specially companies, can’t go around saying it’s independant. "
      Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have national teams but are not independent countries. They are part of Great Britain. OTOH, Taiwan IS independent but the Communist Chinese refuse to recognize that fact.

    • Mareo
      May 1, 2013 at 10:43 pm

      Yes yes, Taiwan has a team, hong kong has a team, but they are not fully independant contries. Some like Taiwan are quite recognised (had a seat at the UN , was replaced by China in the Mao times), others like HK live in osmosis with the dudes in Beijing. Wales, Scotland, England, United Kingdom, thats a more joyful situation where mates who sometime play as adversaries join up in team UK to celebrate the London Olympics. There is absolutely no political tension behind this arrangement, it's pretty much taken care of in the FAs no?

      All in all, that wasn t really my point to start with, cause all these states/teritories/countries have national teams. But Tibet doesn't ???? No association, FIFA, IOC etc don't have Tibet in their vocabulary. So some countries, like China, say it's a misrepresentation of reality, you can t put tibet in "WORLD-ASIA" among china, hk, japan, iran etc. And they ban it. I really I m not taking sides, just clarifying why a silly football game is banned because of a tibet team. Because without context its quite lame ^^ But its also a way of preparing the unity of the youth under one name, china, and growing sound patriotic citizens. Patriotism may include a little bit of a one dimensional view, du to brainwashing?

      I would understand if some of them say "I will not be subjugated to criminal abuse". *.*
      F&A

    • dragonmouth
      May 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm

      My point being that, as arguably the world's second superpower, PRC has been acting as first-rate bully ever since they came into existence. To ban a game because of little bit of poetic license is petty. It's an 800 pound gorilla throwing its weight around. The rest of the world has been acquiescing to PRC's demands out of fear or out of political expediency.

      But this is not the time or the place to discuss the ins and outs of Chinese political landscape.

  11. Dan
    May 1, 2013 at 12:55 am

    No GTA:Hot Coffee?

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      May 1, 2013 at 4:00 pm

      Yeah. That's a surprise.

    • Dave Parrack
      May 1, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      As far as I'm aware it didn't lead to the game being banned. Instead, the rating was changed. So it doesn't warrant inclusion on the list.

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