Game concept: General Custer has to dodge arrows in order to reach a naked indian girl tied to a cactus, and he 'wins' by raping her.
Result: Since home consoles were a new thing, the public was associating this game with Atari, forcing the game maker to sue the developers of Custer's Revenge for 'wrongful associating' with the game. While they sat in court, the developer made two more 'sex' games before finally closing their doors. Warning! X-rated video! lol
Game concept: Explore rooms of Castle Wolfenstein, killing Nazis. It was controversial because of the violence and blood, killing of dogs, and nazi symbolism throughout. In Germany, this game had to remove all swastika and images of Hitler, and in the SNES version, the dogs were changed to giant rats.
Result: Despite (or because) of the controversy, this game is now considered the birth of 3D first-person shooters, and was a huge commercial success, with many ports and sequels.
Game concept: Designed to compete with the mega arcade hit, Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat drew in the crowds with a simple formula: Add tons of blood, and 'finish off' your opponent with a killer move, like ripping the spine outta them.
Result: One of the most popular arcade beat'em'up game ever, ported to dozens of home consoles, spurred many sequels and even a movie. But the US government was so appalled at this game in particular that it launched congressional hearings on the subject of violent games. The gaming industry, fearful of government regulations, initiated a mandatory ratings system (Everyone, Teen, Mature, Adult) in large part because of the controversy surrounding Mortal Kombat.
Game concept: As a commando of a secret organization, you monitor (spy) on five young girls dressed in nightgowns, trying to protect them from vampire-like killers. This was achieved thru many short video clips of B-movie actresses doing things like pillow fights and giggling.
Result: The plot may seem suspect, but the game itself was very toned down; no nudity, excessive violence, or rape scenes. Nevertheless, it was mentioned along with Mortal Kombat in US Congress hearings about game violence, mostly because of overzealous politicians. The game itself wasn't that popular with players because it was too repetitive and offered no replay value.
Game concept: Ultra violent and ultra addictive FPS that revolutionized the gaming industry with its incredible 3D engine. The game is set on a Mars colony invaded by Satanic forces.
Result: Despite its violence and blood, it oddly flew beneath the government's radar during the Mortal Kombat hearings. Many religious groups however attacked this game because of its violence and strong satanic atmosphere. But Doom's major controversy occured several years after its release; in 1999, the media reported that the Columbine Massacre killers were avid Doom players, and Harris was quoted as saying the planned massacre would be "like fucking Doom" and his shotgun was "straight out of" the game. Many parents became fearful that video games, specifically first-person shooters, were turning their children into killers.
Game concept: An 'interactive movie' during the height of the multimedia era of PC gaming (thank god THAT fad died out quickly), this game was released on 7 CDs and the plot script was 4 times longer than a typical movie script. The story is similar to 'The Shining', about a writer going to an abandoned house to finish a novel in peace, but the house turns out to have a dark secret.
Video [view at your discretion]
Result: The plot was an exteme departure for Roberta Williams of King's Quest fame, as it featured graphic gore, violence, and even a rape scene. Australia banned it, CompUSA and other retailers refused to sell it, and many other countries made it an 18+ purchase restriction, yet despite all this, it was one of the best selling PC titles of 1995.
Game concept: You're Duke Nukem, a trash-talking womanizing guy with big guns, and you're here to shoot all the pig cop aliens and rescue all the hot ladies. (or at least that's how my brain remembers it).
Result: Duke Nukem 3D caused controversy mostly because of the violence and treatment of women. The only women present in the game were prostitutes, cheerleaders, strippers, or sex slaves to the aliens. The game was banned in Brazil following a cinema theatre murder rampage that may have been inspired by the game's first level. But perhaps the biggest controversy is the tease the developer is doing to fans by promising a sequel, and 10+ years later, all we have is 2 or 3 teaser trailers and nothing else. Oh, the humanity! Where is my Duke Nukem Forever???
Game concept: Holy crap! Not one but TWO games in this list that were inspired by the movie 'Death Race 2000'? I guess cars running over people is entertaining as hell.
Result: In many countries, including Germany and early versions in UK, the game had to modified to show cars running over zombies or robots instead of people, much to the dismay of undead activists. It was also outright banned in Brazil.
Game concept: Beaten up and left for dead, the player wakes up with a thirst for revenge against the Kingpin and his henchmen. The dialog contained a heavy dose of profanity, and the violence was designed to be as graphical and realistic as possible. The more you beat a head in, the more its skin gets bloodied and deformed. And each body part was hit-aware and having its own 'armor' rating, so a guy could lose a leg, but still be functional enough to keep fighting you, albeit in crippled form.
Result: Very high marks from PC Game reviews, but releasing such a bloody shooter so soon after columbine generated lots of bad publicity from groups as well as US congressmen trying to show their constituents they are fighting to keep their kids safe. As a result, many top stores such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Toys-R-Us refused to stock the game. The developer commented later that if it wasn't for EB Games, this game might not have even made it to North America.
Game concept: Terrorists steal four nuclear weapons from Russia. A Soldier of Fortune from he US of A is assigned to prevent the nukes from falling into the wrong hands. Maybe they should've sent the Soldier to Florida flight schools instead.
Result: Controversial because of the extreme graphical violence, mostly because it was the first game to use Raven's GHOUL model engine which allowed gamers to dismember the enemies. After complaints, it was given a rare 'Adult Movie' classification by the British Columbia review board. It also got placed on the index in Germany.
Game concept: After aliens accidentally receive a lingerie catalog from planet earth and go there for more. There, they caputer you, the main character, and force you to search for women, get them to remove their clothes, and photograph them... or they will destroy earth!
Result: Controversial in the USA and pulled from some store shelves. Gamers in general just found the game retarded and ignored it. But biggest controversy was when an organization 'Dads and Daughters' singled out this game and arranged a boycott against it.
Game concept: Open-ended gameplay about the glorified life of a criminal; you get to carjack, shoot cops, deal with prostitutes, and running over pedestrians (again, what's with the fascination of driving over people in this list?)
Result: Funny, whenever media reports to us about how bad and violent games are, they always seem to show video clip of GTA3's carjacking, shooting at cops, and running over pedestrians. You can't buy that kind of free publicity! The game was meant to be released in early Oct 2001, but was delayed by a few weeks to make some last minute changes (removed a mission involving a van that lured citizens, and then exploded, and also repainted all cop cars from the NYPD color scheme to the black & white LAPD color scheme as to avoid controversy.) Since its release, it has won many awards, got rave reviews, and became the best selling game ever in the US. It seemed the US congressmen had other priorities than pixelated blood in video games. But in Oct 2003, another big controversy would befall the game, as yet another game-inspired killer struck and this time, GTA3 was name the culprit. The parents of the slain kids decided to sue Rockstar, the makers of GTA series, Wal-Mart, and Sony, for a total $246 million. Great, the terrorist threat is over, time to refocus our fears on those evil game makers.
Fun Fact: Sometimes, just the fear of controversy can kill a game. In order to avoid being banned in Germany again, the German version had all violence and gore removed, and placed the story in a parallel universe occupied by cyborgs. Needless to say, it didn't impress german gamers.
Game concept: Very similar to GTA3, only set in Miami-style city. Another monster hit for Rockstar.
Result: Another Rockstar release, another highly controversial release. I'm starting to see a pattern. On top of the usual groups against cop-killing, carjacking, and prostitution, Cuban and Haitian groups protested against this game on the basis that it invited people to harm immigrants, and some lines could be considered racist. Rockstar benefited from a fresh wave of controversy, and after cashing in millions more, they proceeded to release an updated version in 2004 that had those lines removed in order to prevent discrimination lawsuits.
Game concept: Scantily clad (and nude) strippers with (not so) big tits decide to try out BMXing. Everyone says WTF? (and teenage boys go buy it anyways)
Result: Originally to be called Dave Mirra's BMX, the developers realized their game sucked and decided to add tits and ass. Dave was smart and made sure his name was completely removed from this title. But regardless, many teen boys went drooling all the way to the counter, and soon discovered that Wal-Mart, Toys-R-Us, and most other major retailers in the US refused to sell it. The GameCube and Xbox versions were fully uncensored, with stripper video scenes between load times. Sony asked that all PS2 versions be censored. The sight of pixelated nipples could irreversibly harm young boys (and got back to making great child-friendly games like GTA and ManHunt).
Game concept: An open ended FPS game with an interactive town all around you. Do you walk around doing mundane day-to-day tasks? Do you get rude and flip strangers the bird? Or do you pick up that can of gasoline and burn the whole goddamn place to the ground?
Result: Although the levels are not violent by nature, there's lots in the town to piss you off, and the game clearly urges the gamer to 'go postal' for fun. Most of the crude racist sexist homophobic jokes were done as a parody, but poor reviews from game sites combined with its extreme concept resulted in many stores not carrying this game. More controversy sprung up in 2006 when media revealed that Montreal's Dawson College Massacre killer played violent game, including Postal 2. Despite all this, the game enjoys a cult following, but that will soon end when infamous director Uwe Boll will release a movie based on this game. He has a good track record of killing off any game franchise he touches.