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10 Popular Banned Video Games and Why They Were Banned

The Censorship and outright banning of video games isn't new. However, whether or not censorship or an outright ban is fair or justified isn't something we're here to discuss today. Instead, we're going to take a look at some of the most popular banned video games in the world and why they were banned.

As you'll soon learn, while it is true that some popular banned video games do at least warrant the censorship or ban they received, some games were banned from sale for some pretty weird and radical reasons.

Grand Theft Auto

Starting off our list is a series of games so controversial that nearly every iteration has been banned if not censored in a country or two, and it's not exactly surprising why this is the case.

It doesn't matter what GTA game we're talking about. Each game involves violence and, in a way, glorifies the life of a criminal. It has the main character involved in everything from car theft to murder, kidnapping, drugs, prostitution, and so much more.

So, it's not entirely surprising that a Chicago lawmaker wants to ban the sale of violent video games, citing Grand Theft Auto V as an example.

With GTA VI expected to release in the next few years, expect Rockstar Studios' uber-popular franchise to make headlines for all the right and wrong reasons once again.

Mortal Kombat

Similar to the Grand Theft Auto franchise, the Mortal Kombat series of games is just as controversial as it is popular. Ever since the first title released, the games have been used as an example of the over-the-top violence and aggression in video games.

As a matter of fact, the first few Mortal Kombat games led to the creation of video game ratings boards. This includes the Entertainment Software Rating Board, otherwise known as the ESRB.

To date, there have only been very few video game franchsies that have either been banned or censored in multiple countries. Case in point, in Germany, every Mortal Kombat game was banned until 2015, with the latest title, Mortal Kombat 11, still banned in countries such as Japan, Indonesia, Ukraine, and China.

Manhunt

It's hard to say if Manhunt became popular because it was banned. However, what is easy to tell is that Manhunt's outright ban in several countries is reasonable. Why? Because the premise revolves players finding the most brutal way to decapitate and execute every person that they encounter in every level they're playing in.

It also certainly doesn't hurt that the game heavily focused on letting players use melee weapons to the point that some critics went as far as to describe the game as a "psychopath's dream".

Surprisingly enough, Manhunt received a sequel that went on to become available on the Nintendo Wii. Because of the console's innovative control scheme, you can only imagine the outrage born out of seeing the game let players simulate the sensation of literally carving people up using their bare hands and other weapons.

Although the game was still released some time later, the developers had no choice but to tone down the violent nature of the game before making it available.

Command & Conquer: Generals

Command & Conquer: Generals did particularly well in most parts of the globe. We say most because it bombed in China (pun intended).

In a perfect example of cultural insensitivity, the game's China campaign included literally dropping a nuclear bomb on Beijing, as well as the destruction of other known Chinese landmarks like the Three Gorges Dam, the Hong Kong Convention Center, and even the Tiananmen Square.

Pokemon Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue

You'd think Pokemon would be banned for having animal-like creatures fighting each other, but you'd be wrong.

Yes. We're not joking. We're talking about the first-generation Pokemon video games and no, they weren't banned for the reason that you might think they'd be banned for.

Where most would expect animal activist groups to push for the banning of any Pokemon game as it, in a way, does promote violence among animals (albeit the fictional kind), the first few Pokemon games released by Game Freak were banned in some countries, predominantly in Saudi Arabia, because of its use of "masonic symbols" and how it encourages young children to gamble.

Carmaggedon

Surprisingly enough, the latest Carmaggedon title is available and lets you run over pedestrians, as well as cows.

Some games we understand trying to skirt the lines between violence and justifying it with its gameplay. However, in the case of Carmaggedon, there really was no justifying why the game would choose to revolve around having players literally drive over pedestrians and rewarding them for doing so - double if the pedestrian was pregnant.

Naturally, Carmaggedon was banned outright in many countries. However, the developers found a way around this by replacing pedestrians with zombies and robots. But, for some reason, the unedited version still managed to make its way to Portugal and Australia.

Medal of Honor

You'd understand if some games were banned for cultural insensitivity and for depicting violence against a particular race. This is why it's particularly surprising that 2010's Medal of Honor, a game that featured the US military as protagonists, was banned in US military bases.

Apparently, the ban was for one simple reason alone - it let you play as the Taliban.

Weirdly enough, only the sales were banned in US military bases. This means that soldiers could still buy the game outside and bring it back inside the base.

Bully

Talk about judging a book by its cover, or in this case, judging a game by its title, Rockstar Games' Bully was the subject of controversy after activists, anti-bullying organizations, and even politicians, moved to have the game banned because it reportedly promoted bullying.

The thing that these people forget is that the game is the exact opposite of that. As a matter of fact, the storyline revolved around standing up for yourself, specifically, against bullies. It was also more about how to fit in at school, schoolyard pranks, and you know, being a student.

While the game was both a commercial and critical success, it still was banned in the UK, US, and Brazil.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is one of the most popular games today. It's arguably what gave birth to the whole battle royale genre. This has since resulted in other takes such as Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Call of Duty: Warzone.

However, while most other battle royale titles are widely available worldwide, PUBG is banned in numerous countries. Namely, in Jordan, Iraq, and Nepal.

Apparently, according to the countries that have banned PUBG, the game causes mental health issues and video game addiction.

We understand the latter. After all, video game addiction is a real problem. It needs to be addressed in some form. However, singling out one game doesn't exactly solve the root of the problem.

All Video Games

For a few years in early 2000s, foreigners could get jail time in Greece for simply bringing their Game Boy with them.

Back in 2002, Greece enacted a law the purpose of which was to undercut illegal gambling. However, the law ended up banning all electronic devices and software. This law was also indiscriminate. This meant that foreigners could find themselves facing jail time for simply bringing their Gameboy along with them into the country.

Luckily, the EU noticed how dumb this was and slapped an injunction against Greece that allowed the ban to go away quietly - after three years.

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Written By

Ray is a freelance content writer based in the Philippines. He is a lifelong gamer and a PC hardware enthusiast. He builds and repairs laptops and computers for friends and family in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter.