Here Are Five Examples of Video Games Crossing the Line
Since the very beginning, video games have been a major social force, as well as a form of entertainment. They’ve made us question reality, challenged us to be better people, and even learn more about ourselves. But sometimes, there are games that push the boundaries so much, they cross the line of what is acceptable. In an effort to get noticed, or sell units, they push the bounds of decency so much, that in some cases they even get banned altogether. Let’s take a look at five games that went too far.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 “No Russian” Mission
In 2009, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 sparked a lot of outrage among players and game developers alike. In it, you play as a CIA operative who takes part in a terrorist massacre at a Russian airport to gain the trust of a terrorist leader named Vladimir Makarov. It’s a graphic scene depicting the mass murder of innocent civilians, and as the player, you’re the one helping to carry it out. To be fair, you were given the option to skip the scene, and you could technically play the scene without actually shooting anyone if you wanted to. But still, the “No Russian” scene (so named because this order is spoken just before the shooting starts) will go down as a prime example of a game taking shock value a little too far for some.
In 1997, developers at Stainless Software had an idea for a way to get more publicity for the racing game they were working on: add running over pedestrians. For points. It was a strategy specifically designed to attract controversy, and it worked. The game sold well, moving close to 2 million units all told. And it wasn’t actually a horrible game, getting positive ratings from a number of gaming reviewers. But still, some just couldn’t get past its mean, morally questionable vehicular-homicide gameplay, and the game was censored in some countries and even banned in others. Despite all the controversy, Carmageddon went on to be a long-running series, with the latest reboot, Carmageddon: Reincarnation dropping as recently as 2015.
Speaking of a game purposely seeking out controversy, Custer’s Revenge just might be the most tasteless and shameless of them all. Released in 1982 for the Atari 2600 console, this ugly little game placed you in the boots (and only the boots) of a naked General George Custer, as he walks across the screen, dodging arrows so he can sexually assault a tied-up indigenous woman. And that’s it. That’s the game. It was an idea meant to get attention, and it did unfortunately result in big sales for the game. That is, until it was pulled from shelves after a firestorm of protest from, well basically everyone. Combining awful racism, sexism and just plain poor game design all in one offensive little package, Custer’s Revenge was an early stain on the gaming industry that is still remembered with shudders from gamers to this day.
Grand Theft Auto V “By the Book” Mission
One of the all-time great games, GTA V was a brilliant spoof of modern excess and that of course included the over-the-top violence. But one mission, “By the Book,” stood out as maybe taking things too far. In it, Trevor brutally tortures a man to get information for the mission. He electrocutes him, hits him with a wrench, waterboards him, and even pulls out the poor man’s teeth with pliers. Even by GTA standards, this mission was a brutal, and maybe even nauseating exercise in sadism. Some outlets felt it “push[ed] the boundaries of taste” and cynically presented the horrific scene as if it were meant to be funny. To top it off, much like the “No Russian” mission mentioned above, the player was put in the role of actively carrying out Trevor’s actions during the torture sequence. “By the Book” stands as one time GTA perhaps took its signature nihilistic violence a step too far for some.
A game series that has, inexplicably, spawned numerous sequels, Postal is an isometric shooter in which you (as “Postal Dude”) have to kill as many civilians as possible. In 2012, Postal 3 brought a fresh round of mindless violence combined with poor level design, terrible dialogue, and regular crashing. Our own Paul Sullivan, who came to the game with an open mind, found Postal 3 to be “distasteful” and “a game you should avoid.” Other critics agreed. But let’s fact it: this was never meant to be a good game. It was meant to get lots of attention and sell units. However, this is one time where it didn’t work — within just a few months, the developers pulled the game from their store and admitted Postal 3 was not a good game. There hasn’t been a new Postal instalment in a while, but Postal Redux remastered the original “classic” in 2016. Who knows, maybe we’ll see Postal Dude again in the future.
Well, that’s it for this round of video games that pushed things a bit too far. What do you think? Is there a game we missed? Were we unfair to one of the games on our list?
Let us know in the comments below!