It was the game’s infamous “No Russian” mission which really riled people up, a level which sees players assume the role of a deep-cover CIA agent, who joins a group of ultranationalist Russian terrorists as they massacre a civilian airport. Whilst the player is not required to kill any civilians themselves, the level proved so controversial that it was removed from the Russian version of the game, and modified in Japan and Germany. The level also gave the game the dubious honor of being one of very few video games to be discussed in the British parliament.
Resident Evil 5
The fifth entry in the iconic Resident Evil series caused controversy not due to its outdated control system, but instead by setting the game in Africa. Whilst this isn’t controversial on its own, there was something extremely uncomfortable about seeing muscled white hero Chris Redfield killing wave after wave of black zombified villagers. Things were made even worse by the use of classic racist imagery in one of the game’s trailers, with one reviewer commenting that the content of the game was so problematic that it could have been written in the 1920s.
After the original game was implicated (though police and courts later rejected this implication) in the murder of one British teenager by another, it’s surprising that a sequel was ever made. The gameplay of the series involves players having to stealthily execute enemies in increasingly brutal ways, using a wide variety of deadly weapons. The realistic violence depicted was too much for some, with the original game being banned in New Zealand, and the sequel being repeatedly denied classification in the UK and given an Adults Only rating in the US. As a result of this, the games extreme content had to be edited in order to receive 18 and M ratings respectively.
Grand Theft Auto (series)
The father of all video game controversy, over the years GTA has allowed players to commit all kinds of criminal acts, including:
- Drug dealing
- Gun crime
- Drink driving
Not to mention innumerable others, so it’s really no surprise that the series has caused such controversy. Perhaps the most infamous example was GTA San Andreas’ “Hot Coffee” mod, which allowed players to sleep with their in-game girlfriend. The outcry was so severe that the developers issued a mandatory recall of the game, with many lawsuits being taken out against them. This even led to some US senators calling for a change in the legislation of how video game ratings were enforced.