Over the years, many developers have strived to bring realistic and thought-provoking moments to the world of #gaming. Recent blockbuster titles, like #Battlefield1 for instance, have pushed the boundaries of the gaming industry to new heights with their focus on raw, immersive experiences.
However, sometimes a game can take things, well, a little too far. Usually when this happens, it’s all over the news, loads of debates are sparked, and quite honestly the whole situation tends to get blown out of proportion. With that said, there are always going to be one or two moments where even the hardiest of gamer looks at the screen with a face that says, “Whoa, that’s just wrong.”
So here are a few controversial gaming moments that really took it a step too far.
1. Grand Theft Auto V — Torturing Ferdinand
Poor old Ferdinand, he only went and got himself into one of those pesky "wrong place, wrong time" situations. I mean, you know how it goes, one day you're fitting a new home theater in a client's house, the next you're tied up in a warehouse with Trevor Philips attaching electrical currents to your nipples. Fun times.
Back when players were experiencing the rich and detailed story of #Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto V for the first time, many were shocked at what they had to do when they reached the undeniably controversial mission, "By the Book."
In this mission the player is instructed by FIB agent and all-around douchebag Steve Haines to "extract" information from suspected terrorist Ferdinand Kerimov, who is probably, no wait, scratch that, definitely the unluckiest man in the world. Now, I say "extract," but what I really mean is that the player, controlling none other than #GTA5's very own lunatic #TrevorPhilips, has to torture and abuse poor old Ferdinand until he reveals a number of clues about the target. And believe me, if you know what Trevor is like, you'll understand why Ferdinand is so unlucky.
Ferdinand has to endure everything, from waterboarding to tooth pulling at the hands of Trevor, who seems to enjoy what he's doing — not surprising, considering how messed up in the head he is (please don't tell him I said that). And as if the mission couldn't get any worse, Ferdinand doesn't even have the luxury of dying, thanks to a handy shot of adrenaline that the player can use up to three times to revive him. Man, talk about overkill.
The extreme brutality depicted in this mission prompted backlash from a variety of news outlets, who raised concerns that the level of violence may have a profound effect on children who play the game (I mean, I get where they're coming from, but it's rated 18+ for a reason, right?). The scenario was so controversial, it even prompted a response from both Freedom from Torture and Amnesty International. Keith Best, chief executive of 'Freedom from Torture' was quoted as saying:
“Rockstar North has crossed a line by effectively forcing people to take on the role of a torturer and perform a series of unspeakable acts if they want to achieve success in the game.
"Torture is a reality, not a game and glamourising it in popular culture undoes the work of organisations like Freedom from Torture and survivor activists to campaign against it."
Whether you agree or disagree with this controversial mission's inclusion in the game, it's fair to say that it certainly caused an extraordinary reaction, and many players were undoubtedly turning away from the screen as the clocked ticked from one agonizing minute to the next.
2. Bully (a.k.a. Canis Canem Edit) — Terrorizing Students
Surprise, surprise, Rockstar makes the list again. And no wonder, because 2006's Bully (also known as Canis Canem Edit in PAL regions due to its title being deemed inappropriate), was one of the most controversial games the developer ever released.
In #Bully, players control James "Jimmy" Hopkins, a new student at Bullworth Academy. Jimmy isn't exactly the best behaved student at school, and players soon find this out as they go about the task of rising through the ranks of the school's various cliques. However, the game isn't restricted by a linear story, with the player having the freedom to explore the school campus and neighboring town, causing mischief and mayhem all the while.
The controversy of this game was brought about by the fact that the player had the freedom to bully and abuse other students, dunking their heads in toilets, firing slingshot pellets and getting into fights among many other schoolyard terrors. Some might argue that this isn't surprising, considering the game is called Bully, though it's understandable that some people would morally be against the idea of a game involving bullying on moral grounds.
Many anti-bullying organizations voiced their concerns, with critics saying the game glorified bullying and violence within schools. Niall Cowley of the international charity BeatBullying told The Telegraph:
"We're disappointed this game was created in the first place. Some mindless people thought this was a fun, interesting piece of software to create, but it undermines all the hard work that organisations like ours are seeking to do.
"Our philosophy is about educating young people that bullying is not a cool thing to do, and this leaves us with a bad taste in the mouth."
Bully will always be remembered for the contention it caused and whether Rockstar was smart to have created the game. While it is fun to play, nevertheless remember, kids: Bullying is never cool!
3. Hatred — The Whole Goddamn Game
Ok, ok, I know what you're thinking. "But this was an article about most controversial moments, how can the whole game be controversial?" Oh, my sweet summer child, you have no idea.
Hatred is an isometric shooter game, which was released back in 2014 for PC. In the game, players have one simple task: To kill everyone in sight in the most brutal and merciless ways imaginable. With little in the way of story, the game is simply an all-out murder-fest, with the main character able to wield and use a multitude of firearms and explosives.
Hatred received backlash from the get-go, with many leading industry news sources denouncing the game for its excessive and arguably over-the-top violence, combined with its general lack of substance. Online game retailer gog.com refused to sell the game, whilst #Steam removed the game from its store for a time until it was eventually returned to it in 2015 with a personal apology to the developers from Valve president Gabe Newell.
Overall, it definitely goes without saying that Hatred is one of the most controversial games of this generation — so controversial in fact that the fuss can't even be tied to a single moment in the game. I mean, the whole goddamn game is one huge killing spree, and it's difficult to find a definitive moment of controversy in the endless pools of blood and guts that Hatred left in its wake.
Still don't believe me about the violence? Just check out the reveal trailer below:
4. Mortal Kombat — Fatalities
A real blast from the past now with 1992's Mortal Kombat, the game which gave birth to the age-old debate of video game violence. At the time gaming was a relatively simple affair, with most fans playing either arcade games or more popular titles like #MarioKart.
And then along came #MortalKombat, and so began the era of gaming controversy. Mortal Kombat started off as an arcade player, a simple fighting game with an even simpler premise: Fight your way through the tournament until you reach the final boss. See? Simple.
However, critics soon caught on to one thing in particular: This game was incredibly gory. I mean, gory by 1992 standards of course. Nowadays you'd see this level of "gore" in a kids' cartoon. Many news outlets scrambled to report on this controversial new development in the world of video games; they couldn't have this evil industry corrupting their children's minds and turning them into zombies! A lot of focus in particular was directed at the in-game fatalities seen at the end of a fight, in which the player could execute their enemy with a bloodsoaked and merciless showboating move.
In hindsight, this early burst of controversy helped Mortal Kombat to build a strong brand as the years went by. To this day, the game is renowned for its excessive brutality, and players still flock to buy the newest installments in the franchise in the hopes of seeing new, more creative ways to dismember opponents. You know what they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity!
5. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 — No Russian
"Remember — no Russian."
Those three infamous words have stuck with many of those who played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 since it first released in 2009. And every time you have a conversation about those gaming moments that maaaybe went too far, those three words undoubtedly crop up somewhere along the line.
But what exactly is "No Russian"? Well, back when #CallofDuty was a grittier shooter than it is today (I'm sorry, but jetpacks? C'mon!), fans were treated to bold campaigns that were unafraid to take risks with the controversial nature of the plot lines they adhered to. The games were bursting with heart-pounding moments, daring missions and high-stakes gameplay.
However, one mission may have taken it slightly too far, and that mission was "No Russian," in which players control an American agent who has successfully infiltrated a terrorist organization. The mission sees players establishing a deeper cover with these terrorists and has them walk through a bustling airport, firing their machine gun at unarmed civilians as they flee in terror.
Many victims crawl away as you pepper them with bullets, some trying to drag their injured friends to safety, while others simply try to cling to the remaining moments of their lives. The mission, to be honest, is difficult to sit through, especially for those afraid of carnage, but even seasoned veterans of Call of Duty were taken aback by the sheer brutality displayed in this mission.
The developers of the game, #InfinityWard, understood that this level may cause distress for some players, and therefore allowed them to skip the mission without any penalty at all.
However, this didn't help to subside the media firestorm which was about to descend on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. A number of religious leaders denounced the game, whilst others criticized the game for its excessive violence and for allowing the player to control a terrorist during a terror attack. The uproar brought about by "No Russian" led to the game being heavily censored in many countries, with the level being removed entirely from the Russian version of the game.
"No Russian" also remains a key point of contention among those who are against violence in video games, with many stating that the level could have a negative impact on youngsters who play it. On the other hand, some would argue the opposite, that parents who purchase an 18-plus game for their child are solely responsible for any negative effects it has. Whichever side of the debate you're on, it's undeniable that "No Russian" was possibly one of the most controversial moments in gaming history, but did it deserve the brouhaha? You be the judge!
No Publicity Is Bad Publicity. Right?
The gaming industry is an ever-expanding behemoth and it's inevitable that now and then a controversial moment will crop up and send the media into yet another debate about the dangers of video games. Not that this is always a bad thing, of course. It's important to keep developers accountable, but not so much to the extent that their creativity is stunted by overprotective policies against their games' content.
Controversy is arguably an important part of the creative process, and through gaming there's definitely the potential to develop a medium in which controversial subjects can be more easily digested by an audience. But did these particular controversial moments go too far? You decide!
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