Sometimes we forget that video games, in their most basic form, are simply avenues of entertainment. We get caught up in all the buzz and fuss, sometimes taking it a little seriously leads to some unforgettable moments.
Sometimes however, this seriousness—among many other things—can lead to some real life controversy surrounding our virtual worlds, creating some of the worst video game controversies of our time.
The following are a few times that, for whatever reason, things got a little out of hand before anyone really knew what was going on.
TGN Top 10: Worst Video Game Controversies
10. The Xbox One Reveal
To put it lightly, Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal at E3 2014 received a little criticism. To put it honestly, fans wanted to smash the new console over their heads. Demanding DRM that set very stern policies about the usage of previously owned games, and a necessity to sign on once every 24 hours, this was clearly one of the worst video game controversies.
It became open season on the hapless corporate giants as fans and Sony alike were united in their mockery. As Microsoft scrambled to control the damage they eventually repealed the need to purchase a CCTV security camera—sorry, a Kinect—with their console.
9. Night Trap
Demonstrating the barefaced cluelessness that the media once held towards video games, Night Trap was never destined for fame, though it earned infamy along the way. Coming from the time period in which incorporating live action sequences into video games was the cool new thing, the goal in Night Trap was to save attractive, scantily clad teens from Augurs, which were kinda like sci-fi vampires with cattle prods.
Its infamy came when accusations rang out that Night Trap, despite the objective being to save these girls, actually encouraged people to do harm to young girls. This most confusing of the worst video game controversies was made even more ridiculous by the fact that Night Trap contained no legitimate scenes of violence. Nevertheless, Sega was forced to withdraw it from shelves and we all had to hide our Augur suits and wait another year for our bloodsucking rampage.
8. Destiny’s Red Bull Quest
A more recent one on our worst video game controversies list is a slightly humorous and very shameless practice, wherein Bungie encouraged their fanbase to load up on Red Bull to earn themselves exclusive rewards. Because playing their game to access these quests would be too difficult, so why not buy a caffeine addiction?
Alongside a substantial hit of taurine, players were awarded bonus XP and a quest in Destiny‘s upcoming expansion, The Taken King. Fortunately, this debacle was parodied heavily by the well-humored makers of Dying Light substituting the can of Red Bull for a glass of water.
7. Jack Thompson’s Perpetual Losing Battle
Perhaps nobody fits the angry grandpa stereotype better than Jack Thompson. We wish we could say this was a one-and-done, but Mr. Thompson has been doing legal battle with the very concept of video games since the late ‘90s. Fortunately for us, he’s made little headway in the censorship and regulation of them and usually just comes off looking a little looney.
Thompson has brought himself to the point where he poses little legitimate threat to the industry and is more so just flailing angrily. It’s okay Jack, we’ll still play Street Fighter with you.
6. Rule Of Rose
Rule of Rose answered the age-old question that has danced on gamer’s lips for generations, “Just how bad does a game have to be for not only Sony to pass on publishing it, but also to invoke the wrath of the EU?” To answer it simply, Rule of Rose is bad, so bad it’s made this list of worst video game controversies.
Playing to just about every phobia ranging from the more obvious sexual abuse to the frightfully niche insect humiliation, the game never saw publication in multiple countries due to extensive media and political bashing. Honestly though, they probably didn’t help themselves in the face of accusations of over-sexualization with their choice to include an unlockable Gothic Lolita costume.
5. Sony’s “White Is Coming” Ad Campaign
What’s the best way to advertise your flashy new all white handheld? Tout its game library or its capabilities as a device? How about plaster the image of a very aggressive white person, clad in flour-white attire, angrily grasping the jaw of a fearful black person with the tagline, “White is coming.”
Tactless as they may sometimes be, this seemed a leap too far even for Sony. Fortunately, these offensive billboards only ever overlooked the streets of the Netherlands. Though we can’t imagine the Dutch who bore witness to these poorly thought-out ad campaigns share that relief.
4. Dark Souls 2 Graphical Downgrades
In 2013, the bright lights of E3 put Dark Souls 2 front-and-center. Wowing fans with dynamic use of lighting. Sharp and sleek graphics that made the absolute most of next-gen consoles and PC capabilities, to go along with their hair-pulling repeated deaths.
A year later, as it was released, while the previous gen of consoles was understandable, PC players were left shocked and annoyed as the game fell very short of coming close to pressing their PC’s capabilities. Looking nothing at all like the stage demo a year prior. Though the anger flowed aplenty during this most heinous of worst video game controversies, it wouldn’t be until a much later version of the game that fans finally saw the game in its former pristine form.
A game so dark and gruesome it even revolted the people making it, reportedly causing a near mutiny within the company according to a Rockstar developer. Manhunt was a game that was as sick and twisted as they come, intentionally so and reveling in that fact.
Fully aware of its own sickness, and marked by the fact that the normal difficulty was labelled Fetish, Manhunt tasked players with surviving various scenes and taking out Hunters in various gruesomely realistic ways as they did so.
Every news outlet quickly honed in on this game, and being that it was 2003 and gaming was still on an unsure platform in the eyes of mainstream media it was a ripe opportunity for them to tunr this into one of the more well-known of the worst video game controversies.
2. The Reception To Hatred’s Trailer
Some games often create quite their own worst video game controversies thanks to their content. A game can be released and immediately shelled by the media for whatever reason they see fit. Hatred didn’t even get that far.
Critics everywhere were whipped up into a frenzy of offense upon seeing the trailer. A proud display of the angsty, trench coat-donning main character gunning down civilians with a smile on his face. In the package of an isometric shooter while the game’s creator laughed along to the whole affair, garnering his game the extra publicity he was aiming for.
Beginning its life as some very personal accusations of affairs, and spiraling into the worst of the worst video game controversies about burning topics such as ethics in gaming journalism, sexism in the industry, and the massively overstated war that was designated “Bloggers vs Journalists”.
Gamergate is one of the most landmark and far-reaching of our worst video game controversies to ever grace the gaming world. Which is surprising considering barely half the people involved took it seriously. Starting as something moderate, it quickly became farcical due to being dredged down by the alarmist topics it revolved around, and the hamfisted or alarmist ways many approached them. It degenerated into online trolling as the initial point of a woman unscrupulously making her way to the top became lost in a sea of ridiculousness such as PizzaGate.
Despite all of this mainstream TV coverage of the event was abundant and soon, even your average person was clued into Gamergate – fortunately, they didn’t really care either.
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Taking into account all the worst video game controversies that have cultivated over the years, there’s absolutely no way we’d have been able to condense all of the worst video game controversies into one list. These were just a small insight into what we personally think were some of the more landmark silly squabbles and serious altercations revolving around the worst video game controversies.
Do you have a few of your own worst video game controversies to share that you’re disgusted we missed out on? Let us hear what you have to say in the comments section. Just remember be civil about it, we’re not looking to make any more controversy. Thanks for reading!