Top 10 Video Games Banned Somewhere In The World

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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. 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.

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 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 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 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

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Comments (33)
  • Tommy

    Farm simulator didn’t make the list?

  • David Moreira

    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

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

    • David Moreira

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

      Nevermind then.

  • Alex Downs

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

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid

      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

      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

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

  • Goodny33

    I didn’t even know about this.

  • Lisa Santika Onggrid

    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

      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

      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.

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.