Video games have always been a subject of controversy, with concerns ranging from the potential for addiction to the impact of violent content on players. These controversies ultimately led to the development of the ESRB rating system, which helps parents and players make informed decisions about which games are appropriate for them. Additionally, issues like censorship in video games have arisen as a result of these controversies, with some countries imposing strict regulations on what can and cannot be depicted in games.

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However, as the modern landscape of gaming has evolved, gaming has stopped becoming a target for parental concerns and political agendas. Today’s games often depict graphic violence, sexual content, and other controversial themes in a fairly tasteful manner that won’t really offend anyone—barring a few exceptions that is. As a result, past controversies in the industry seem laughably tame in comparison.



10 Doom

doom game

Doom is a legendary first-person shooter that needs no introduction. The simple gameplay loop of roaming around tightly-constructed levels and killing demons makes for a great cathartic time.

The game attracted significant controversy due to its violent content and satanic imagery, with many extremist groups calling it out for inciting real-world acts of violence. Meanwhile, the new Doom games feature players ripping demons apart without a care in the world, and nobody even bats an eye at these glory kills.

9 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas


Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was a massive success upon release, with many people considering it to be Rockstar’s greatest title until Grant Theft Auto 5 came out. The game’s graphic violence, sexual content, and depictions of drug use were highlighted as sources of controversy as is, but that was the norm for pretty much every GTA game.

What really made this game the target of controversy was the game’s Hot Coffee mod, which allowed players to access hidden sexual content that was present in the game files. It was a massive source of derision that the mainstream media targeted, even if the sight of ugly polygonal bodies in their clothes engaging with one another in a pretty barebones minigame will cause players to just laugh at how unintentionally hilarious this “controversy” really is.

8 Mass Effect 2

Commander Shepard, Miranda and Thane all in action-ready poses.

Mass Effect 2 was a massive critical and commercial success, with many people still considering it to be the best game in the series even now. Out of all the video game controversies around, Mass Effect 2 had the most nonsensical one of the lot.

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The game was unfairly targeted by mainstream media outlets, calling out the game’s explicit sexual content that was based on completely farcical evidence. This outrage is nothing more than a footnote of the past now, but it’s still pretty surprising how so many people bought into this notion.

7 Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat 1992 scorpion fighting sub-zero

Mortal Kombat was one of the most controversial games of the early 1990s and is responsible along with another title for birthing the ESRB system that is still going strong to this day. The game’s fatalities were so graphic that they had to be censored numerous times because of the outrage they induced.

In modern times, the graphic violence and depictions of blood and gore in this title almost look cartoonish at times. Meanwhile, the modern Mortal Kombat games feature horrifying levels of gore that can be really hard to stomach at times.

6 Night Trap

Night Trap

Night Trap is a poor FMV game where players had to protect a bunch of girls from being kidnapped during a sleepover. The scenes were pretty controversial at the time, with many people outright accusing the game of glorifying sexual assault.

If anything, the only controversy Night Trap should’ve generated at the time is becoming so popular despite being such a horrible game. The game is so unfairly hard that it’s downright unplayable without either a ton of patience or a guide detailing exactly what players should do to avoid a game over.

5 Resident Evil 5

Chris Redfield - Resident Evil 5 (2009)

Resident Evil 5 landed itself in hot water due to its depictions of black zombies and concerns over racial insensitivity. Some critics accused the game of perpetuating negative stereotypes about African ethnicities, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, many people argued that banning African characters from being villains and enemies was racist in itself. The controversy was pretty foolish in hindsight, and players felt like the game should’ve been derided for straying from the Resident Evil formula in such a brazen manner if nothing else.

4 Manhunt

Mahunt Main Character

Rockstar is a studio that feeds off the controversy their games face, using it as a marketing tool of sorts. Manhunt is no exception to this golden rule, being an incredibly violent game that generated significant controversy and was labeled a “murder simulator” by many.

While a huge part of Manhunt was murdering people in as violent a manner as possible, there are way more violent games around right now that take this level of violence up a notch. Players should check out Manhunt for its violent and twisted nature, with the game being brutally hard if players don’t sneak around efficiently enough.

3 Wolfenstein 3D

Wolfenstein 3D

It’s only a given that a game that allowed players to shoot up Nazis in the 90s would generate controversy. Such was the case with Wolfenstein 3D, a legendary FPS that gamers are quite familiar with.

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Fast-forward to modern times and Nazis have become a favorite punching bag of most first-person shooters. In hindsight, the controversy surrounding Wolfenstein 3D is nothing short of laughable.

2 Carmageddon

Promotional Art For Carmageddon

Carmageddon is a vehicular combat game released in the late 90s which was pretty violent for the time. The game allowed players to run over pedestrians and animals, with this violence putting it in the crosshairs of many people who didn’t appreciate the game’s violent nature.

This led to the game censoring itself and releasing copies where the pedestrians were replaced with zombies who had green blood. Of course, this controversy looks pretty silly now, with most modern open-world games allowing players to run over innocent people without any restrictions whatsoever.

1 Soldier Of Fortune

Soldier of Fortune (2000)

Soldier of Fortune is a pretty great FPS that many people don’t really remember now, which is a shame. The game found itself in hot water because of its realistic depictions of blood and gore, leading to concerns that it could potentially desensitize players to violence.

The manner in which players could damage and dismember individual body parts of an enemy was pretty impressive from a technical standpoint, even if it caused the game to face its fair share of controversies. Of course, in modern times, dismemberment is the norm in most violent FPS games, and Soldier of Fortune looks downright tame in comparison.

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