We all know our beloved hobby is no stranger to controversy and there are a lot of games that were banned for a multitude of reasons. Even before we were putting them on a T.V screen, games like Dungeons & Dragons were causing a stink among conservative religious groups for apparently promoting witchcraft and satanism. A whole decade later, Mortal Kombat and Night Trap began causing mothers all over America to get their collective panties in a twist. Later still, we had games like Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt (Rockstar seem to have a penchant for pissing people off) all over the news. But it’s at least understandable why these games were controversial. After all, they’re violent and often misunderstood. But there are some games that were banned for such absurd reasons that their stories simply must be told. Here’s ten of the best.
Football Manager 2005
Sega’s long standing soccer management simulator has a huge audience all over the world, but in 2005 it had a significantly smaller one in China where it was banned for threatening the nation’s ‘sovereignty and territorial integrity.’ So what does that mean in real terms? The game listed Hong Kong, Tibet and Taiwan as separate nations, which the Chinese government took as an affront to their claim of ownership on them.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow
Back when Ubisoft weren’t plastering Tom Clancy’s name on anything and everything (watch out for the upcoming Tom Clancy’s Hair & Makeup Simulator), their popular sneak-em-up series, Splinter Cell, got banned in Indonesia for a particularly dumb reason. The plot of Pandora Tomorrow centers around a terrorist group called Dorah dan Doa which translates to ‘Blood and Prayer’ in English. For some reason (which we will probably never know), Indonesia’s president considered this a personal threat to himself and his people and promptly banned it. So for those of you planning a vacation in Indonesia, take care not to bleed or pray on their president, he’s a bit sensitive about those things.
The Darkness (Xbox 360 version)
Back in 2007, action-RPG The Darkness was released on Xbox 360 and PS3, except in Singapore where the Xbox 360 version was banned for excessive violence. That would be fine, if it wasn’t for the fact that the PS3 version is identical in every way. We can only assume that Sony coughed up enough cash to satisfy whatever governing body was responsible for this extremely suspicious decision.
Pokémon Trading Card Game
Any gamer who grew up in the late ‘90s will have a fondness, or maybe even a hatred, of Pokémon. Either way, we can all agree that it was and still is a huge franchise. However in Saudi Arabia, playing the Gameboy exclusive trading card game is a crime. Why? Because it promotes Zionism…apparently. The Saudi Arabian authorities felt that one of the symbols on an in-game energy card resembled a Star of David and was therefore subtly promoting some secret Jewish agenda. Of course, as we all know, Ash, Brock and Misty’s main aim is to return the Jewish people to their promised land by overthrowing the Saudi Arabian monarchy.
Released at the dawn of the new millennium, many would consider Counter-Strike to be the granddaddy of competitive FPS games. However, the Brazilian authorities failed to see the game’s significance and banned it for bringing ‘imminent stimulus to the subversion of the social order, attempting against the democratic and rightful state and against the public safety.’ In truth, they were upset at the game’s portrayal of a Favela, a kind of Brazilian slum. Not wanting to acknowledge the existence of such poverty, they decided to make an example of Counter-Strike and banned it.
EA Sports MMA
Denmark isn’t known as a country with excessive censorship laws. In fact, its reputation would suggest quite the opposite. But that didn’t stop them giving EA Sports MMA the boot for it’s over-the-top promotion of various energy drinks. At the time, Red Bull and the like were illegal in Denmark, as was the advertisement of any drink containing more than 150mg per liter of caffeine. Electronic Arts didn’t feel like editing the game, so they just didn’t bother releasing it in Denmark.
No list about censorship is complete without the mention of North Korea. The extremely secretive state played the role of the antagonists in 2011’s Homefront, a game which sees you fighting against North Korean occupation in a future America. Unfortunately for South Koreans, their government was concerned that distribution of the game might upset their northern neighbors and so Homefront was promptly pulled from shelves.
Command & Conquer: Generals
Before they turned their attention to soccer management, China were busy banning EA’s Command and Conquer: Generals for portraying the country in a ‘negative light.’ This in itself is not that surprising given China’s penchant for telling people what they’re allowed to read, watch and play. However, what does seem a little odd is the fact that China are portrayed as a the good guys and an ally to the player in the game’s main plot. Evidently, whoever was responsible for determining the fate of this game didn’t bother actually playing it.
This one’s a bit grim. RapeLay is a game about, you guessed it, raping people. As is to be expected, it was banned almost everywhere and I’d imagine most people would agree with that decision. However, Argentina’s reason for banning it leaves a bit to be desired. The game, which has the protagonist stalk and sexually assault a woman and her two daughters, was banned in Argentina because one of the daughters may have been underage. This implies that if they were all old enough, the game would have been perfectly acceptable. That’s not cool, Argentina. Not cool at all.
Literally Every Game
Yes, you read that correctly. Back in 2002, the Greek government banned all devices that contained ‘electronic mechanisms and software’ in an attempt to combat illegal gambling. This is just another classic example of stuffy old men in shirts and ties creating laws for things they know nothing about. What’s really ridiculous is that it happened a mere 15 years ago. We had the internet, cellular technology and were able to grow babies in test tubes at that point. So believing that all software had the potentiality to turn someone into a compulsive gambler was just beyond naive.