A look at the most controversial games in history.
When I began this feature I had two choices: writing a serious article on how games can invoke pure rage in ignorant wombats who haven't touched a controller in their life, or take a light-hearted look at (some of) history's most controversial games. I went with the former, obviously. Now excuse me while I step out to steal a car, run over 500 pedestrians, while having a prostitute pleasure me on the floor - I can do all this in a game, so I would do it in real life.
With logic like that floating about, it's no wonder gamers/games are often the scapegoats for real world issues - usually branded as the cause of school shootings. Gaming controversy is nothing new. In fact, it can be traced back to when games were mere infants - still sucking at Bill Gates' man-boobs of basic on the Atari 2600.
1982 - Custer's Revenge: "Sex was never so pixelated"
Crime in title: Rape
Reason for controversy: It displayed sexual violence
Now that we have that unsightly image in your head, we can talk about a charming young man named Cluster, who rapes native American women. He was one of the original gaming anti-heroes (if that fits a rapist) who made their home console debut on the Atari 2600, star of Swedish developer Mystique's Custer's Revenge.
The premise was simple: the more you 'gave it to her', the more points your scored - brilliant, if you want to sell based on controversy, otherwise this title was highly offensive, not to mention repetitive and boring. Games of this nature were barely heard of again, let alone published on later home consoles. Instead they were relegated to PCs in Japan.
Reason for controversy: Parental arm flapping/storm in teacup
Mortal Kombat was the first title to make people shout "OMG did he just rip out that guy's spine?!" The fatalities got more gruesome with every title and for many years they were the only reason to pick up an MK game. The series took a dive after MK2; remove the fatalities and you had a cheap fighter with terrible AI that predicted your every move and countered accordingly.
That remained true until the release of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe which, while having PG fatalities, used the Unreal Engine 3 to produce a far more fluid fighting system than Midway had been able to achieve with their proprietary engine. Most importantly though, it was fun.
1993 - Doom: "Welcome to hell on earth!"
Crimes in title: None, you're saving the world damn it!
Reason for controversy: Some people don't like Satanic imagery
The follow up to Wolfenstein 3D was the first popular scapegoat for school shootings because it was a free download so everyone with an interest in shooting things virtually, or in life, could get their hands on it.
Doom was the first game people outside of the gaming community saw as violence in an immersive form, where players 'were the character' rather than watching a couple of guys/creatures duking it out - and that scared people who don't understand gaming.
These days Doom is rather dated, you couldn't aim up or down, or jump - but it's still a blast at 18 years old and you can get ports for almost any gadget. Even your phone. Amazing.
1997 - Carmageddon: "You got people on my car!"
Crimes in title: Hit and run.
Reason for controversy: All the killin'
Carmageddon took the demolition Derby and threw hundreds of innocent people (Zombies in censored versions) into the mix. Players received time extensions for running over the people, and were awarded bonuses for extra skillful kills, like power sliding over someone, or driving them into a wall.
Unfortunately, it didn't go down well with parents who irresponsibly ignored the R18 rating and let their 10 year old play. Next thing they knew, their kid was behind the wheel pretending to mow down 3-year-olds with a maniacal grin on their puss.
2003 - Manhunt: Banned after it went on sale
Crime in title: Murder, Assault
Reason for controversy: "Too insane for New Zealand, Australia and half of Europe"
Manhunt holds the title of the first videogame banned in New Zealand so it's a natural fit for this list. Players control a killer, have a handful of different apparel to dispense death with and run around giving it to convicts in this visceral stealth action game. The main reason this game is banned is due to the fact that you're running around being egged on by a deranged director.
2004 - Grand Theft Auto San Andreas: "The Hot Coffee incident"
Crimes in title: Rap music, Prostitution (oh wait, that's legal here), Murder, Hit and run, Drive
Reason for controversy: You got consensual sex in my murder and carjacking!
The Hot Coffee incident came about when some hidden code was exposed by GTA San Andreas hackers. They called it a 'mod', although the hack simply revealed code which had been hidden by Rockstar North prior to launch - likely to lower the rating without removing the content.
Said code contained a poorly rendered sex scene. 'Nuff said.
2009 - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: "The Russian Airport Mission"
Crimes in title: Murder
Reason for controversy: Shooting unarmed civilians
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 sparked controversy with just one mission. It took place in a Russian airport. You played an undercover agent and had to make yourself look as ruthless as the terrorists you were infiltrating. Naturally, a lot of people had something to say when the footage was leaked early.
None were more entertaining about this than then, Whanganui Mayor, Michael Laws.
Listen to it here.
I play that mission repeatedly just for kicks - they are only polygons, after all. I have nothing against Russians.
A game is just a game, and anyone taking them so seriously they soil their pants over morals (or lack thereof) should take a long hard look in the mirror and cluck like a chicken three times before heading to the pub for a cold one and getting arrested for disorderly conduct.
In conclusion, some people say "life is a game", others say "life imitates art". If the latter were true, I'm missing my extra two lives, three continues and various upgrades. I'm also a millionaire in Sim City and my bank balance is nowhere near that - yet. I'll take some medals for winning World War 2 single handedly, too.