Few Reasons Why Video Games Are Banned

You’re knee-deep in the Nazi infested bunkersof Omaha Beach. Your squad’s been decimated by a particularlyobstinate machine gun nest. Reaching for a grenade, you lunge out overyour trench- and are immediately cut down. That’s alright, you picked up a health kitin the last Nazi bunker. You reach for the digital health and see thatfamiliar… green gross? Reason Why Video Games Are Bannedthat in war time, warring statesdon’t try to deceive the other by using the red cross symbol as camouflage, as red crosspersonnel are meant to be neutral so they can access the sick and dying anywhere onearth, even a battlefield. The red cross symbol has actually been removedfrom everything ranging from Halo 2 to the original Doom. While everyone who has good taste in videogames remembers that the original game shipped with the red cross symbol on health packs,it was later changed in subsequent releases. Officially, the red cross symbol is not supposedto be used for any commercial aim, and while the red cross on health packs isn’t an attemptto capitalize on the popularity of the symbol for commercial gain, it’s use in a commercialproduct is still something the red cross itself isn’t too hot about. But while the red cross symbol has in effectbeen banned from games, what full-on games have ended up getting the real-life ban hammer? Custer’s Revenge got the ban hammer- in onlyone state, when honestly it probably should’ve been banned everywhere. Developed in 1982 for the Atari 2600, thegame features the player as a naked Colonel Custer, who has to move from one end of thescreen to the other while dodging flying arrows. What’s the big deal? Well, other than being naked, Custer’s marchacross the screen is fueled by his desire to get to a tied-up native american woman. Extremely offensive,

even in 1982. Oklahoma would go on to ban the game frombeing sold in the state. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter2 not only has distinction as a solid shooter and unnecessarily long title length, but alsoas one of the few video games to immediately get the ban hammer in Mexico. Up until TCGRAW2’s release- see, we toldyou the title needs to be shorter- Mexico had never before banned a video game, andthat’s quite the accomplishment considering many of the titles in this video were availablefor sale there as well. But when the mayor of the city of Juarez satdown to play his own copy of GRAW2 he was less than pleased with the opening mission,which sees the player gunning down guerillas in a digital copy of Juarez. Less than pleased with how GRAW2 had paintedhis city as a lawless purge-fest, the mayor managed to convince the governor of Chihuahuato ban the game’s sale. He even went so far as to form a task forcethat hunted down copies of the game in stores and seized them to prevent their being sold. EverQuest is basically one of the grand daddiesof the MMO genre, and you aren’t playing an MMO today that wasn’t in some way influencedby the legendary game. However, the country of Brazil thought thatEverQuest posed a significant public risk- and banned it from being sold in the country. Citing the psychological burden of havingto undertake both “good” and “evil” quests, the game was believed to pose risksof permanent mental harm. Don’t worry though, because that’s not theonly game banned by Brazil for crazy reasons. Popular arena shooter Counter-Strike was alsobanned in Brazil, this time for subverting public order, and for being a quote- “attackagainst the democratic state and the law and against public security”. Our next video game didn’t get outright banned,but it might as well have been. Devotion was a critically acclaimed slow-burnhorror game developed by a Taiwanese studio. When a meme of Xi Jinping, the Chinese Presidentand leader of the Chinese Communist Party being compared to Winnie the Pooh appearedin the game, China got extremely upset.

That’s because memes comparing Xi Jinpingto Winnie The Pooh are very popular in Asia, despite an outright ban of Winnie the Poohaltogether by Xi Jinping. Red Candle Games, the Taiwanese developer,responded by apologizing and patching out the offending content- but Valve eventuallypulled the game for sale from its Chinese Steam platform. Unexpectedly, Red Candle Games then went aheadand pulled the game off Steam globally after its two publishers cut ties with them. In response to the controversy, Taiwan’sVice Premier responded by saying, “Only in countries with democracy and freedom can creationbe free from restrictions.” The Chinese government responded by revokingthe licenses of the game’s publishers, and removing millions of posts off social mediawith the Devotion hashtag. Super Seducer would take a while to get banned,but justice eventually came with the release of Super Seducer 3. For those lucky enough to not know what SuperSeducer is, prepare to have that ruined. In the game, self-proclaimed pickup artistRichard La Ruina tries to teach players how to pick up women in various scenarios. The game has a player play out different scenes,and is able to pick from several different options what to do next. La Ruina will then faithfully play out whateverthe selected choice was, in full motion video glory- like this scene:While the game should have been immediately banned for being the epitome of cringe, itwasn’t- until Steam refused to carry the third iteration of the game where you could- unsurprisingly-unlock nude options for the objects- I mean, human women- in the various scenarios. Valve definitely couldn’t stand up for theuniversal right of free speech against a world dictator, but at least it stood up for ourright to not buy garbage video games and La Ruina was left without a major distributorfor his game. Fortnite may be one of the most popular gamesin the world,

but in China the game is banned- only a heavily censored version is availablefor play. But China’s ban of Command & Conquer Generalsis for far crazier reasons- while you can spot American landmarks getting blown up invideo games and movies all the time, pull the same stunt with a Chinese landmark andyour game gets the people’s banhammer. For a scene showing the destruction of theThree Gorges Dam and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Command & Conquer remainsunplayable to Chinese citizens. Plague Inc doesn’t take place in any one particularcountry, and is as apolitical as a game could get- but when the Covid 19 pandemic hit theworld, China immediately banned the very popular doomsday simulator. Football Manager 2005 however got super-bannedfor recognizing Taiwan and Tibet as independent countries- something that traditionally makesthe Chinese Communist Party extremely upset. Manhunt was developed by Rockstar Studios-no strangers to controversy- in the early 2000s, and its success led to the developmentof Manhunt 2. Both games focused on stealth gameplay wherethe player would carry out ‘executions’ of increasing violence against people tryingto hunt the player down. The original game flirted with the banhammerback in the day, but the UK and various other countries around the world outright forbaderelease of the game. Rockstar had to make special edits for thesecountries which dramatically toned down the violence. Even then the UK barely approved the gamefor sale. In Ukraine Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon got bannedfor touching on a rather sore spot for the nation. In the game, Russian ultranationalists- thesame type Ukraine is actively at war against right now- and communists come together torecreate the Soviet Union, and promptly sweep Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan back intothe fold. This was unacceptable to the Ukranian government,which has historically been extremely frowny face about ever having been a part of theSoviet Union in the first place- let alone Russia’s modern-day’s intentions to forcethem back into a new Russian union. Now we move to the United Arab Emirates, whichmight ban more games than any other country aside from North Korea. The UAE is famously brutally conservative,much to the shocking discovery of many foreigners doing such outrageous things as kissing agirlfriend or wife in public in the wrong place. The UAE has banned a whole smorgasbord ofgames, but our favorites from that list are the following: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 got bannedwhen quotes from the Qur’an were found in some of the in-game picture frames.

The developer probably thought nothing ofit, seeing as how popular inscribing bible verses in various items is in the west- butthe UAE found it offensive to the point of banning. A patched version of the game was later approvedfor sale. Dragon Age: Origins was not just one of thebest rpgs of the 2000s, it was the best Dragon Age period. And I swear to YouTube that if any of youdisagree you can leave your address in the comments section and I’ll come fight you. Anyways, the critically-acclaimed RPG gotthe banhammer hard in the UAE over sexual themes and homosexual relationships. Recently, you’re able to buy the game digitallybut hard copies are still illegal. Injustice: Gods Among Us got banned shortlybefore its release, despite purposefully changing its Middle Eastern name to Injustice: TheMighty Amongst Us. However, because the case packaging and softwaretitle still retained the word “God”, the game was a no-go for the UAE. Eventually the ban on the game was lifted,presumably when someone a lot less silly took over the job of state censor. Over in Iraq, both Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’sBattlegrounds are banned, allegedly for “negative effects caused by some electronic games onthe health, culture, and security of Iraq society.” For a nation reeling from two decades of war,perhaps the core concept of these games is extremely unsettling. While the UAE is fond of banning video games,Germany takes the absolute cake for video game bannings. It is important to note though that most ofthese video game bans simply keep the games from being sold physically- the act of buyinga game for a single user online, or of a player owning a single copy is not actually illegal. The act of selling the game is, so go figure.

Amongst the many, many banned titles in Germanyare such masterpieces as 50 Cent: Bulletproof, and the follow-up critically acclaimed 50Cent: Blood on the Sand. Actually, we’ll be honest, we have no ideawhich game came first, because video games based on rappers are terrible as movies basedon rappers- unless it’s that one video game where you got to street fight as the Wu-Tangclan. Most games get banned in Germany for beingtoo violent or gory, but Far Cry was banned not just for being too violent, but for havingtoo realistic ragdoll effects. Once the effects were toned down, the gamewas allowed for sale at an 18+ rating. Wolfenstein and the later Wolfenstein 3d howevergot the ban hammer for violence and Nazi references. The original Wolfenstein was approved forrelease after going through extreme censorship, which we’d love to find out how that worksas the game is predicated on you murdering tons and tons of Nazis, and then fightinga dual-machine gun wielding mecha-Hitler at the end. Wolfenstein 3d was only recently taken offthe ban list, as the German government has decided it’s been long enough since the Nazis. Moving on to our next game, we have to ask:who doesn’t love Pikachu, the adorable face of the global Pokemon phenomenon? Saudi Arabia, that’s who- or more precisely,they’re not big fans of the Pokemon Trading Card Game, or any Pokemon title really, whichhave been banned in both digital and physical forms. It’s no normal ban either, Pokemon is bannedon the basis of being a threat to national security. The Pokemon ban went so far as to have a formalfatwa issued against it. What was so insidious about Pokemon that SaudiArabia had to invoke clerical power to ban it? Turns out the game has a laundry list of offensivematerial to the deeply religious country, including promoting Darwin’s theory of evolution,encouraging illegal gambling behavior by trading pokemon or pokemon cards, and for promotingthe Shinto and Christian religions through symbolism, as well as the fact that the energysymbol in the trading card game kinda-sorta looks like a low resolution Star of David,if you squint hard enough. Sadly, real evolution doesn’t involve intensebattles or power stones- though it’d be more awesome if it did- but this isn’t changingSaudi Arabia’s mind anytime soon and the ban holds.

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