FIFA 17 may soon be banned in Russia due to its support of LGBTQ equality in football and Russia's anti-everything laws of the same sort. Russia has been making waves recently with its gay propaganda law, but FIFA 17 is far from the strangest example of game censorship.
Most bans in the western world only ban due to extreme violence, drug use, or sexual violence. The US is incredibly lenient, hardly banning anything. Most of the countries in the Commonwealth have graphic violence bans, and a lot of religious or conservative countries ban on the basis of morality. But there are some really odd or extreme bans out there.
- Game: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
- Reason: The "Hot Coffee" incident
Grand Theft Auto had a sneaky little mod hidden in it that allowed the main character to engage in sex with his girlfriend via an invite into the house for "coffee." Players were able to control and play the character throughout the entire graphic scene. Rockstar originally claimed this was merely a malicious mod from "hackers" but users found the files in the console versions as well. Due to this Australia revoked the game's rating and assigned it "Refused Classification," which banned the game from being sold. A patch removing the mod allowed it to restore its mature rating once again.
- Game: Counter-Strike, EverQuest
- Reason: Public order and security
In 2008, Brazil suddenly banned both Counter-Strike and EverQuest, despite the games being 9 years old, for "the subversion of public order, ... an attack against the democratic state and the law and against public security." This ban was enacted by a lone state judge, but Brazilian law allowed for judge decisions to apply to the entire country, though other states did not act on the ban.
Counter-Strike was banned for teaching war strategies, especially on a Rio de Janeiro map that featured an attack on the UN by drug dealers. EA Brazil noted that the map was not part of the game and instead was user-generated.
The EverQuest ban makes even less sense. Because players can do a variety of quests in the game, good or evil, the game was banned due to "heavy psychological conflicts" resulting from this apparent moral conundrum. Amusingly enough, EverQuest was not even sold in Brazil at the time of the ban.
A regional federal court lifted the ban a year later.
- Game: Battlefield 4
- Reason: Slandering China's national image, threat to national security
China has a long and colorful history of banning anything it doesn't like, and video games are no exception. Battlefield 4 was banned after its China Rising DLC pack came out. China took exception to this, calling the maps of China's mainland a national security risk and the use of China as the game's villain a "cultural invasion" that smeared China's image.
- Game: Football Manager 2005
- Reason: Recognizing Taiwan and Tibet as independent countries
We know how prickly China is about Taiwan and Tibet too. Football Manager 2005 was banned simply for portraying them as independent countries and not happy little provinces smiling under China's thumb. Video games aren't the only victim of this, actors have been getting the same treatment.
- Game: Hearts of Iron
- Reason: Portraying Tibet, Sinkiang, and Manchuria as independent countries and Taiwan as under Japanese control
While China (rightly) has a long-standing beef with Japan, they didn't take too lightly to Hearts of Iron portraying Taiwan as under Japanese control. Likewise, Hearts of Iron made the grave mistake of showing Tibet, Sinkiang, and Manchuria as independent of China which, as mentioned above, China really doesn't like to be reminded of.
- Game: EA Sports MMA
- Reason: Law prohibiting advertisement of energy drinks
This one is perhaps one of the most simple bans. Denmark has a law that prohibits any advertising of energy drinks due to the lack of vitamins or positive health effects. EA Sports MMA, in an effort to be as authentic of the MMA sport as possible, included energy drink sponsorship. So the game was nixed from Denmark entirely.
- Game: Pokémon Go
- Reason: Security reasons
Yes, "security reasons." These reasons were never specified, but we can assume they had something to do with accusations of espionage and using the game as a cover. Pokémon Go is apparently quite the serious threat in the Middle East. A member of Egypt's defense and national security committee, Hamdi Bakheet, flat out accused the game of being a spy tool and a way to infiltrate communities.
- Game: All video game consoles, arcade games and pinball machines
- Reason: "Destructive social enemy" and "detriment of the public interest"
Back in 1981, the Phillipines' then-President Ferdinand Marcos banned all video games and related paraphernalia in an attempt to combat the alleged destructiveness of games like Space Invaders and Asteroids on the morals of the youth. Video games effectively went underground until the pushback and revolution of 1986. Though the ban was not explicitly lifted after the revolution, it remains unenforced.
- Game: Homefront
- Reason: Prevent tensions with North Korea
South Korea is pretty lenient on video games, but the one thing they stray away from is anything that references the Korean War...something that makes North Korea angry. Homefront not only did just that, but they portrayed Korea as the ultimate villain. The game is set in the future about a rebel American group fighting against the unified Korean enemy. South Korea opted to ban the game in an effort to preempt any unpleasant tensions with North Korea.
- Game: All Grand Theft Auto games
- Reason: GTA-inspired murder
A case of one person ruining the fun for everyone else. A teenager in Thailand decided to rob and murder a taxi driver in a copycat crime of Grand Theft Auto's gameplay because he couldn't afford to play the game any longer. When caught by police, he told them that he was surprised to learn it's harder to murder a real person than in a digital game. Thailand immediately slapped a ban on the entire GTA series in an effort to prevent further violence.
Check out more video game censorship here: