The big story this week was that in the UK (and Ireland too) the BBFC had outright banned Manhunt 2 for certification, even before their ratings board ELSPA could certify the game in either PlayStation 2 or Nintendo Wii form. This means that it cannot be legally sold anywhere in the countries. But this isn’t the first case a game was outright rejected to be sold in one or more countries, so let’s take a look at the most notorious games ever banned.
List of the top 15 banned violent videogames:
15. NARC was banned in 2005 in Australia. Why? In the game players are given the freedom to either play it straight or use the drugs they seize, with the drugs acting as ‘power-ups’ for the game characters. Using marijuana for example, slows down time, while taking LSD makes identifying criminals easier as they appear with devil heads. As a result the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) refused classification (RC) on the game.
14. 50 Cent: Bulletproof was banned in 2005 in Australia. Why? The Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) said they were turned off by the arcade mode’s slow motion counter-kills methods. To quote: “The counter kills are enacted in detail, they are prolonged and take place in close up and slow motion. The most impactful of the counter kills involve knives and on-screen blood splatter. The Review Board determined that the impact of this mode was high and could not be accommodated at MA15+ classification. Therefore the game must be refused classification,” Maureen Shelley, convenor of the OFLC said. Truth is, this game should’ve been banned for sucking.
13. Wolfenstein 3D was banned in 1994 in Germany. Why? Germany has an extremely strict censorship on videogames, which results in enemies having green blood or ending up completely as robots. Because in this game the object is to kill Nazis (and thus it contains swastika flags or portraits of Adolf Hitler) it’s listed by German court alongside racist propaganda pieces and became forbidden.
12. Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines was banned in 1999 in Germany. Why? Again, because games where the object is to kill Nazis and contain swastika flags are listed by German court alongside racist propaganda pieces.
11. The Guy Game was banned in 2004 in America. Why? The game poses the player with a range of trivia questions, answer them successfully and you’re shown shots of young women hanging out on beaches in various states of undress. The makers failed to realize that one of the cheerleaders who flashed her parts on camera during the course of the game was only 17 and thus under-age. She complained and the game became illegal. Astro just told me the game’s still in some stores though, guess they didn’t get the memo.
10. Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction was banned in 2005 in South Korea. Why? The delicate/still-hostile situation between North and South Korea means that the government is under severe pressure to ban media that depicts war between the two nations, for fear that it could further strain an already tense diplomatic situation.
9. Command and Conquer: Generals was banned in 2003 in China. Why? Because of “smearing the image of China and the Chinese army.” The Ministry Of Culture also took offence from the game requiring players to destroy various national Chinese monuments like the Gate of Heavenly Peace, the Three Gorges dam, and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
8. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 was banned in 2007 in Mexico. Why? Mexican officials didn’t like the fact that gamers were blowing away Mexican soldiers throughout the game. Chihuahua Governor, Jose Reyes Baeza Terraces, added that “Violent video games… attempt to divide the good will of the residents of American and Mexican cities”.
7. The complete Pokemon series was banned in 2001 in Saudi Arabia. Why? The Saudi Arabia’s mufti, the highest religious authority in the conservative Muslim state, claimed it promotes Zionism [thinking the Star of David is in on the cards] and involves gambling. “It resembles a game of gambling because of the competition which at times involves sums of money being exchanged between collectors of the cards” Sheikh Abdul Aziz said. For the record, we do consider this a violent videogame for its forceful capturing of cute animals in tiny prison balls.
6. Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure was banned in 2006 in Australia. Why? Critics said it incited the crime of graffiti vandalism. Atari in a statement said: “It’s unfortunate that during this day and age a government will implement censorship policies which are tantamount to book burning practices from the past.”
5. Manhunt was banned in 2004 in Australia and Germany. Why? It was found objectionable, because it “describes, depicts, expresses, or otherwise deals with matters such as sex, horror, crime, cruelty, or violence in such a manner that the availability of the publication is likely to be injurious to the public good.”
4. Manhunt 2 was banned this week in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Why? Because “There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged, in the game.” UK’s BBFC continued: â€œAgainst this background, the Boardâ€™s carefully considered view is that to issue a certificate to Manhunt 2, on either platform, would involve a range of unjustifiable harm risks, to both adults and minors, within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, and accordingly that its availability, even if statutorily confined to adults, would be unacceptable to the public.â€
3. Reservoir Dogs was banned in 2006 in Australia and New Zealand. Why? Because it contains frequent depictions of violence that have a high impact, like players being able to torture and blow the heads of hostages and police. The New Zealand OFLC banned it for on much the same grounds as the BBFC did, saying “the film tends to promote and support the infliction of extreme violence and extreme crueltyâ€¦for the purpose of entertainment.”
2. Carmageddon was banned in 1997 in the United Kingdom, France, Brazil and Australia. Why? In Carmageddon the player races an animated car around a track, and can gain bonus points by passing checkpoints and by driving over obstacles. Bonus points are also awarded for driving over pedestrians, and it is this aspect of the game that gained people’s attention by being compared to “road rage”.
1. Postal was banned in 1997 in 13 countries. Why? The plot involves the lead character going on a killing spree (AKA “going postal”), shooting people, innocent or not, simply because he’s angry about being evicted from his house. Gamesradar even reports it was advertised as banned in 13 countries, which works in the same way that Ruggero Deodato’s exploitation classic Cannibal Holocaust was supposedly banned in 50 countries… it’s a great selling point. As expected, it’s not available in Germany and Australia and someone even tried (but failed) to get it banned in America.
Quotes found via the full banned games list at Wikipedia.