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The Most Controversial Games of All Time (2023)

Not all games or developers are perfect.
A girl being cornered by vampires in a bathroom
Image via Screaming Villains

Since their inception, video games have always been a talking point of controversy among political figures, parents, and even gamers themselves. Whether through heavy subject matter in-game, controversy due to the developers behind them, or even the stories they are based on, there are just some games that simply can’t fly under the radar. This has really been a theme since the 1990s. And with so many controversial games in the mix, why not take a look at some of the most controversial around? So, here’s our list of the most controversial games of all time!

The Most Controversial Games of All Time (2023)

Hogwarts legacy screenshot inside of Hogwarts
Image via Avalanche Software

Before starting, it’s important to preface this list by saying that Hatred, Postal, and Manhunt are being omitted from it as they’re games that were purposefully created to be meanspirited. They were designed to be controversial just for the sake of controversy and don’t belong here.

Night Trap

Starting out our list is a bizarre tale of one of the first FMV games to exist, and one that changed the gaming landscape, due to the rating system. Even though Night Trap is an extremely tame game, at the time, the game’s creepiness and the fact that it revolved around teens basically being hunted a killed through a house. It caused quite a stir, leading politicians to have a pretty good case for creating the ESRB rating system we know today.

Aliens: Colonial Marines

Who doesn’t know about this one? Aliens: Colonial Marines was a terribly developed game that was released in such a state that rendered it unplayable for most, and just not fun for others. It was also purposely mismarketed to look more in line with the Alien films, and even showed more cameos from major Aliens characters, even though there weren’t really any to speak of.

Related: 10 Best Single Player Games on PS4

Modern Warfare 2 (2009)

Though the majority of MW2 was pretty standard for the franchise, it was the “No Russain” mission in the game that caused huge controversy, as it was the first time that players in any game could cause literal war crimes. The level allows players to carry out a mass shooting in a crowded airport. This didn’t land well for obvious reasons, and the franchise has never really gone back to anything similar. And with the state of gun violence these days, it’s for the best.

Hogwarts Legacy

The latest controversial game on the list, Hogwarts Legacy will most likely only be remembered for it in the future, if its gameplay isn’t noteworthy. Its roots are tied to the Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling who’s been vocal about her transphobic and bigoted views. It’s left many fans, transgender or not to have no choice but ignore the game altogether so as to not support her IPs. It’s also been pointed out that the goblins in the game are anti-Semitic stereotypes and are treated as slaves. To add insult to injury, the goblins are depicted as the bad guys in the game.

Ready or Not

Even before its release, Ready or Not had been met with controversy. Team17 was the publisher behind the game but seemingly dropped it following a report that Ready or Not would include a school shooter situation as one of the playable scenarios it offered players. Not long after that controversy, the team behind it, Void Interactive, release a nightclub shooter situation. The controversy here though is that Void Interactive decided to release the scenario on the anniversary of the Pulse Night Club shooting that happened in Orlando Florida, where 49 LGBTQ+ people sadly lost their lives.

Mortal Kombat

Another title that steered the course of the ESRB system we know today was Mortal Kombat. Though it too is extremely tame, at least the original, it was quite a sight back in the day. Politicians really had a strong case for censorship due to this game’s blood and gore as well as Night Trap’s use of minors being harmed in order to shift things altogether. Though, Mortal Kombat has gotten even more violent in years since, so at least it’s still pushing the envelope.

Six Days in Fallujah

This title may be a bit infamous, as it’s been over a decade in the making from the minds behind what’s been referred to as “Six Days”, a title that is based on the real-life war that was happening in Fallujah. The problem here though is that the game is only from the point of view of the soldiers that carried out their orders. This game seems to completely erase the pain that the citizens of Fallujah faced from both sides, as their home was being destroyed and war crimes were happening to them daily. This was not a video game for them.

Well, now you’ve heard about the most controversial games of all time! Be sure to check out some of our other lists too, such as “7 Best Mobile Logic Games”. And check out the Gamer Journalist Facebook for even more content!

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