Ever since the dawn of computer, there have been parents, teachers, and other nervous adults who have complained about them and have tried to get them banned. Some of the games that have caused worry in the past seem incredibly tame by modern standards. However, there were a handful of games that almost deserved the negative press they got.
The age of video games courting controversy is far from over, but the golden age of such controversy is behind us, with games that really pushed the boundaries and paved the way for the modern gaming industry.
Based on the movie Death Race 2000 and officially listed as a vehicular combat game, Carmageddon is GTA’s criminally insane uncle, a game that has been banned in many countries since its release in 1997. In fact, there has probably not been a time in which Carmageddon has not been banned somewhere in the world.
You’d be hard-pressed to argue against these bans either. After all, the main goal of Carmageddon is to run people over with your car, scoring points every time you do. It is what the right-wing anti-video game groups dream about, the sort of game that they think is terrorizing their children. The issue with these groups and their “outrage” is that it is often misplaced. If you listen to them, for instance, you’d be led to believe that the whole point of GTA is to beat-up prostitutes, and that the whole point of Call of Duty is (somehow) to act as a terrorist intent on destroying America. However, with Carmageddon, their fears would be correct as the purpose of this game is literally to do horrible things, and to have an unbelievable amount of guilty fun as you do so.
Carmageddon is not an easy game to find in its original form (for many years the people were replaced with zombies or robots), but other versions, including a mobile one, are available.
Released in 2003, Manhunt is a very creepy game that took ultra violence to a whole new level. The whole point of Manhunt is to kill enemy gang members, and to be as brutal as possible. It is a stealth game with a psychological-horror twist, as the player stalks (and is stalked) through dark dungeons.
The game received a lot of negative press aimed at its controversial content. This climaxed in 2004 when a 14-year-old boy was murdered by a 17-year-old friend who happened to be a huge fan of the game. Whether there was any actual link to the game or not has obviously been disputed, but however tenuous, this connection was enough to cause a media frenzy and the game was removed from many stores. It became almost impossible to buy in many countries even though there were legions of young gamers trying to get their own copies.
The controversy died down but started again when Manhunt 2 was announced, a game that promised to be even more disturbing than the original, and one that delivered on that promise.
Postal was the answer to the question, “What if we just created a game when you could do anything, but nothing at the same time?” It is a game where you could randomly beat up people before urinating or setting fire to their dead or dying bodies. It was based on the expression, “Going Postal”, which was used to describe members of the US Postal Service who went on killing sprees and blamed workplace stress and frustration for their murderous intentions.
Postal and Postal 2 were not great games, but it is fair to say that they were different. They used a first-person perspective and sent the player on a rollercoaster journey of absolute insanity. The games were banned in many countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Germany, and Sweden. The second game was generally considered to be more controversial than the original release and there was also a third game, although this was absolutely slammed by critics and players alike, effectively sounding the death knell for the Postal series.