Sex, Violence And Corruption Of Youth. Banned And Censored Video Games
Killing gods, energy drinks, and sexual violence. Read the article below to find out the reasons some games were censored or completely banned.
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Game development is a challenging process full of pitfalls. In addition to the fact that the creators try to create the best possible product for the players, they sometimes have to pay attention to the rules of the countries where they want to launch their title. What works in one market can be a problem for another market. And sometimes it happens, that the given game has to be specially modified for the given country, or it gets banned straight away.
In this article, we will introduce games that have been banned or censored in different countries of the world for different reasons. At the same time, there are some among them that will probably surprise you. In some cases, they were banned even for bizarre, even laughable reasons.
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
Censorship does not only apply to violent games or shooters with hectoliters of blood splattering, but also to seemingly harmless titles. Such as the cult game Crash Bandicoot 2 from 1997. It had to be edited in Japan before release due to one of the "death" animations, where our bagpiper gets crushed by a pillar, leaving only a head with feet. This curious situation was described by Andy Gavin, one of the co-founders of the Naughty Dog studio (which created the famous Crash Bandicoot series), on his blog, where he quoted his colleague Jason Rubin.
For the Japanese market, this scene had to be edited due to a serial killer who killed two children aged 10 and 11 the same year the game was released. He cut off the head of one of them with a handsaw and left it together with the victim's shoes in front of the school the murdered boy attended. The perpetrator was a 14-year-old student who was caught in June 1997 and confessed to the crime. The scene of the squashed Crash, of which only the aforementioned head with boots remains, evoked this very tragedy for the Japanese gamers, so the creators edited it before releasing it on the local market.
There are games that have been banned or censored due to a country's political ideology, similarity to real events, cultural differences, or perhaps black humor. And then there's a game like RapeLay, where it's just absolutely mind-boggling that it even came out.
The name itself is quite telling. In this title from the Japanese studio Illusion, the player assumes the role of a sexual predator (called chikan in Japanese) who stalks and rapes two underage girls (12 and 17 years old) and their mother. In addition, he has been inappropriately touching the youngest of them in the subway. In the game, it is also possible to impregnate one of the girls and force her to have an abortion.
Needless to say, the game has been strictly banned in various countries such as New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Argentina and other countries. Politicians, feminist associations and movements, or part of the customers themselves spoke out against the game. The Amazon online store also banned sales.
In response to the public outcry over the game, the game's creator stated that the title in Japan had been reviewed by the Ethics Organization of Computer Software before release. The studio subsequently apologized and withdrew the game from sale.
Plague Inc. Evolved
Patient zero becomes infected with a new pathogen, infects other people, the disease spreads beyond the borders of the country, engulfs the entire continent, and gradually the infection spreads to all corners of the planet Earth. Does this sound familiar? In the context of recent years, perhaps too familiar.
The 2014 title Plague Inc. Evolved, a remake of Plague Inc. released in 2012, is a successful real-time strategy in which the main task of the player is to infect (and kill) the whole world with a new disease. But after the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, China, from where the disease covid-19 spread, banned the popular game.
In the announcement of the game's sudden ban in 2020, the developers said that the game contained "illegal content" according to the Chinese side. China has not officially confirmed that the ban is related to the coronavirus pandemic, but the timing suggests it is. During the 6 years before, the game worked without problems, gained over 130 million players and was one of the most popular games of its kind in China.
However, in professional circles in the West, the game and its developers received recognition. The US National CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) game Plague Inc. Evolved honored the game for educational contributions regarding the spread of disease and raising awareness of important health topics.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
One of the best and best-selling games of all time, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, not only received countless awards and applause, which it earned for its qualities, but also encountered problems in the form of regional censorship, or even a sales ban. This is mainly due to sexual or explicit gore scenes.
In the Middle East and Japan, all nudity had to be removed from the game and exposed parts of the characters were covered with pieces of clothing. In addition, the scene where the player encounters a dead farmer on a shipwreck with his guts crawling out of his stomach also had to be censored on the console versions. These had to be digitally removed (a video on the Censored Gaming channel shows the difference between the censored and uncensored versions).
In Saudi Arabia, which has even stricter rules, the game received a complete ban and due to the depicted nudity, blood and violence, it could not have been released at all.
God of War
The God of War series is one of the biggest brands in the gaming field. The first installment from the Santa Monica Studio was released on the PlayStation 2 in 2005 and introduced us to the former military general Kratos, who is fueled by hatred of the gods and embarks on a long and very bloody journey for revenge.
In seven installments (including one mobile game) set in Greek mythology, Kratos murders deities and other mythological creatures, not resisting a visit to the harem every now and then. However, the United Arab Emirates did not like this, banning these games. The killing of gods, nudity and sex scenes were against the Islamic faith.
The change came only in 2018, when the highly anticipated reboot and the next part of the God of War series saw the light of day, which brought Kratos from Greek to Norse mythology. The National Media Council of the United Arab Emirates approved this part, and thus players could take control of Kratos for the very first time (at least in an official way, some previous parts were also sold illegally).
Mass Effect ranks as one of the best sci-fi series of all time (especially the first trilogy). The player tries to save the galaxy from almost certain destruction with the help of his multi-member team on the ship he commands. At the beginning, the player can choose whether to play as a man or a woman and can subsequently establish an intimate relationship in the game. However, the authorities in Singapore did not like the scene where the female protagonist kisses another woman of another space race. This led to a ban on the sale of the first volume of the game in the country in 2007. However, the ban was lifted later that year, but the game had to be labeled M18 (adults only) due to this scene in order to go on sale.
Fortnite has become a huge phenomenon in recent years. This free-to-play battle royale game from Epic Games has captivated millions of players around the world with its addictive and fun gameplay. And although the game as such is completely free to play, many people spend a lot of money in it for various cosmetic elements and accessories for their character. In Iraq, however, they banned the game due to fear of a negative effect on children.
The battle royale title Playerunknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) was also banned in Iraq for the same reason. In 2019, Muktada Sadr, a cleric and leader of the local militia, spoke publicly in favor of banning the game. “When you kill one or two people in PUBG, what do you get? It is not a game that promotes intelligence, nor is it a military game that conveys the right way to fight,” PC Gamer quoted him saying.
Football Manager 2005
Yes, even a game like Football Manager 2005 caused controversy. Sports Interactive's simulator, in which the player transforms into a football manager, manages his team and leads it to valuable trophies, has caused an uproar in China. Reason? Because of the Tibet and Taiwan teams.
According to China's Ministry of Culture, the game presented Tiber and Taiwan as separate states in this way, which it said posed a "threat to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity" and players there "strongly protested" such a depiction. The game was therefore banned in the country.
SEGA, the company that published the game, promptly responded to the ban in China by stating that in the given case it was an English version of the game that was not intended for the Chinese market and had reached it illegally. At the same time, the publisher undertook to modify the game for the Chinese market in such a way that it would not in any way violate the laws there and meet the requirements of the authorities.
EA Sports MMA
Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest growing sports in decades, if not the fastest growing. Their popularity can be seen, among other things, from the expansion into the video game industry, where on the one hand existing fans get the opportunity to play for their favorites and on the other hand it is a chance for the sport as such to gain new fans. The EA Sports MMA game got a stop sign in Denmark. But not for the reason that would probably come to mind first.
When you think of MMA, some critics think of violent scenes of bleeding faces and broken bones. But Denmark had a different problem – energy drinks. In the middle of the octagon in the game there was a large advertisement for Rockstar energy drinks, which is a type of product placement that is prohibited by Danish law. The authorities therefore demanded that Electonic Arts remove the ad if the game is to be sold in that market.
However, the publisher took a very idiosyncratic approach to the ban. He refused to remove the ad from the game, announced that he would respect the laws of Denmark, and simply did not release the game on the market there. He defended the advertising of energy drinks with an emphasis on authenticity. "Our game authentically processes MMA in all its aspects, including the sponsorship of energy drinks on the fighters' tracksuits, their equipment or directly at the venues of the matches," the company stood up for itself.
ArmA 3 is a military sandbox game from 2013 by the studio Bohemia Interactive, which was awarded, among other things, for its outstanding technical contribution to the Czech game industry. In a fictitious war conflict, the forces of the North Atlantic Alliance are facing each other on one side and the forces of Iran on the other. However, he objected to the fact that the country in the title is depicted as an enemy of NATO, therefore the game was not licensed in the country and its sale was prohibited.
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