Why games get banned?
In the domain of video games, censorship is a big issue. Though game developers usually design games to suit the needs of their target clientele, a few may take the somewhat twisted route to fame, which involves getting the game banned. This, in turn, makes more people interested in it, who will do whatever it takes to get their hands on the game and play it for themselves to see what’s so controversial about it that got it banned in the first place. This way, even an otherwise ordinary game can soon become a viral game and trigger a lot of discussion and heated debate online, thus making more people aware of and interested in the game itself.
If you take a look all around the world, you’ll find several video games being banned or pulled down from store shelves. If you are wondering how games can get banned, it happens primarily because such games were either deemed unfit for pretty obvious reasons (which may include graphic sex, intense violence, or unpleasant themes), or were simply too much for the community to deal with. At times, some games may even get banned for pretty weird reasons. Though it’s not for us to say whether such censorship is justified or not, we can surely take a look at some banned video games to try to understand what made them get banned and prohibited from being sold.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2
No video games have experienced a nationwide ban in Mexico until Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2. Designed by Christian Allen, this tactical shooter game was released in March 2007. The game got the regional authorities so pissed off (as they called the region’s depiction in the game offensive) that they forbid it from being sold. The game is based on some Latin American rebels kidnapping a U.S. president, after which your (the gamer’s) tactical team works with Mexican authorities to get the city streets rid of guerillas by resorting to brutal firefights. Since the game showed the city of Ciudad Juarez as unsafe (which was true to a certain extent due to the extensive real-world drug violence there), the mayor of Juarez protested against the violent portrayal of his town’s citizens in the game and said it tried to scare away tourists. The mayor even persuaded the governor of Chihuahua (which is a Mexican state) to order the game’s copies in the state being seized in addition to forbidding it from being sold.
Rockstar Games has a history of courting controversy, which they milked well to take their Grand Theft Auto games to huge popularity and success. However, with the Manhunt games, they probably went too far than they had bargained for. After the first game in the series was released, it experienced government pushback in New Zealand and some other nations as well. This was because the original plot that involved a lot of violence and gore, where a convict on death row was made to take part in a murderous game to win his freedom. When the studio took the game’s brutality and gore up a few notches with the second (to previously unseen levels), it got hammered pretty badly.
In the UK, Manhunt 2 was refused classification, which meant it was too screwed up to even deserve a rating. Rockstar Games were quick to add some graphical filters to obscure the gore, thus managing to get the edited version originally released in the UK. However, several nations (Ireland, Germany, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and South Korea that had banned the original) banned the edited version from being sold within their territories.
Developed by Japanese studio Illusion, this was an extremely controversial game that was released in 2006. It triggered a huge storm of bad emotions almost immediately. This rape simulation game lets you act as a sexual predator and stalk, rape, and abuse three women belonging to the same family – a mother and her two daughters. No wonder that the game’s premise is exceedingly screwed up. It triggered a lot of controversy and debate about why games depicting sexual violence should be considered worse or different than those having non-sexual violence as their premise like Grand Theft Auto 4.
After its release, multiple countries banned RapeLay. Countries like New Zealand, Indonesia, and Argentina declared the game being illegal to sell within their territories. In the US, the game got an AO rating, which meant that a majority of retailers won’t stock it though it was possible for gamers to still get their hands on it via the online mode.
Grand Theft Auto (GTA)
Due to their glorification of violence and pandemonium, these games have been at the receiving end all over the globe. Though they have been the target of pushback in several countries, one particular country – Thailand, has taken the extreme step of banning all titles of the franchise.