New video game releases have long been a rich source of material for moral panic – just one recent example of such outrage could be found on the White House YouTube channel, which posted an 88-second montage of video game violence. According to the Trump administration’s press office, the reel was shared to drive discussion of whether “games that graphically simulate killing… desensitize our community to violence.”
But as Variety and other media sources reported when the video was posted in March, the montage also drew fans, with one Newsweek writer describing it as “awesome” and a “tribute to why people love video games.” In any case, as the video game industry has pointed out, there has never been any evidence of a connection between fantasy video-game violence and real-world violence.
However, that did get us thinking, here at G14mes, of the many other new video game releases down the years to have provoked such outrage… many of which seem rather tame in 2018. Do you remember any of the below?
Few games over the years have been as notorious for their levels of graphic violence as Doom, which was released in 1993 and was instrumental in pioneering the now-ubiquitous first-person shooter. Its rather blocky depiction of blood wouldn’t cause much concern today, but it drew objections at the time from a broad range of groups.
Grand Theft Auto (1997)
It’s now one of the most successful video game franchises of all time, with more than 250 million units having been shipped, but even the ever-decency-defying Grand Theft Auto has been falsely accused much of the time.
Politicians of the day often inaccurately described the first iteration of the series, for instance, as a game in which players killed strippers to earn points. But if most of us played the game today, we’d consider a lot of the more outrageous action just too over-the-top to be taken seriously.
Death Race (1976)
Anguished calls for something to be done about video games supposedly promoting real-world violence were hardly new even in the days of Doom. Much similar was said about this arcade game that centred on running over as many humanoid ‘gremlins’ as possible.
But it’s difficult to see much to get worked up about in the game today, given that – like other games of the era – Death Race didn’t ultimately consist of much more than crude dots and bleeps.
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards (1987)
An era of video game sleaziness may just have been ushered in by this late ‘80s title for the PC DOS and Apple II – and later, other platforms – that followed the travails of middle-aged male virgin Larry Laffer as he sought to “get lucky” in the fictional American city of Lost Wages (no prizes for guessing which real-life entertainment epicentre that name was mocking).
Strangely, this game that sounded every inch like a soft-porn monstrosity went on to become a both critical and commercial success.
Night Trap (1992)
The 1990s promised a new and exciting media era compared to the technical primitiveness of the ‘70s and ‘80s, as well as a more daring one – even that perennial paragon of inoffensiveness, Michael Jackson, managed to attract censure for sexually suggestive scenes in his 1991 Black or White video.
The interactive movie video game Night Trap was another to draw condemnation, on account of the gratuitous violence and sexual aggression against women that it was accused of normalising. However, it’s probable that much of the fuss had more to do with the game’s extensive use of full motion video (FMV) that enabled levels of realism largely unseen in video games up to that point.
The more things change, the more things stay the same – it’s been said of many things, but it certainly seems to apply strongly to the world of video games. Why not browse the complete range of new video game releases at G14mes today to discover the latest potentially controversial pioneers of their genres?