Despite being wildly popular amongst players, some video games generated so much controversy that they almost got banned. From organized protests to congressional hearings in the U.S. senate, the extremes opponents went to silencing these games is staggering. While these games were painted as horrible programs that glorified violence, their popularity continued to grow. Video games that debuted in the 70’s paved the way for this extremely successful faucet of the entertainment industry. Today the video game market is valued at over $17.6 billion in the United States alone.
This gigantic industry is dominated by Microsoft, Sony & Nintendo, who all took chances with controversial games. In the long run these risks paid off, since many controversial video games became wildly successful. By defying pressure from both religious & political groups, these games had a profound impact on the industry. Ironically, the releases that caused uproars in the 90’s appear tame by today’s standards. Slowly yet surely, the general public started to realize that video games didn’t corrupt children any more than modern society.
This acceptance of artistic expression was a definitive moment, since it rippled throughout the entertainment industry. Even though most gamers play newer releases, the effects of these once taboo video games are still felt to this day. For this reason, examining the most demonized games is crucial. To showcase which releases paved the way, we compiled a list of the most controversial video games. These games made the current industry possible, so discover which releases defied censorship!
Most Controversial Video Games
Video Game #3: Night Trap (1992) – In many ways, this game became the scapegoat for a new wave of violent games. Horrified by the violence depicted in Mortal Kombat, American politicians went to great lengths to appeal to religious lobbyists. This led to them misrepresenting Night Trap during a United States Senate committee hearing in 1993.
Despite sporting a storyline that revolved around saving women in distress, it was demonized by politicians who never played it. During the hearing, Night Trap was painted as a gruesome game that promoted gratuitous violence and sexual aggression against women. This was covered in a number of major newspapers, which led to the game getting pulled from shelves. This was an ironic choice, since the more violent Mortal Kombat continued to be sold.
In many ways, Night Trap was sacrificed so more successful gory games could continue dominating sales. It was re-released in 2017 and only received a Teen rating by the ESRB. This light rating shows how outrageous banning this well intentioned game was. In the end things worked out, since gamers now have access to better quality games.
Video Game #2: Doom (1993) – This iconic release revolutionized first person shooter games. Within two years of its debut, over 20 million people had played it. This massive level of success pioneered the online distribution business model & created a gaming subculture. In many ways, Doom took multiplayer gaming, 3D graphics & customized additions mainstream. Despite its impressive effect on the industry, this game was immersed in controversy. Thanks to graphic violence and satanic imagery, Doom was demonized by multiple groups. Fortunately, the game was too popular to censor and continued to outsell the competition.
Video Game #1: Mortal Kombat II (1993) – Originally released as an arcade fighting game in 1992, Mortal Kombat quickly made the transition onto every gaming platform. It became wildly successful, since it reached extremes that other games didn’t dream of. On top of utilizing extreme violence and gore, Mortal Kombat II made these features come to life with realistic digitized graphics.
Their attention to detail got it named in a U.S. Senate hearing about the new wave of violence being portrayed in video games. This led to the creation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), which created age limits for certain video games. Mortal Kombat was named the “Most Controversial Video Game of 1993” by Electronic Gaming Monthly & captivated an entire generation. The effects of this release are still felt to this day, which makes it one of the most influential games of all-time.