10. Custer’s Revenge (Atari 2600) – 1982
A pornographic game for the old Atari 2600? Where you take control of Custer, the famous American cavalryman who was scalped, and proceed to rape a Native American woman tied to a cactus while dodging a hail of arrows? The game’s themes are surprising, but it’s not surprising that the title managed to offend everybody from outraged parents to feminists to Native Americans. Whose bright idea was it, anyway?
9. Carmageddon (PC) – 1997
Yep, we’re all familiar with this “racing” game where the point isn’t to race so much as it to splatter pedestrians and wreck the other racers’ cars to bits. It was hysterical and a total blast, but we all know it wasn’t the sort of thing you’d want your parents to see you playing. Now if only they’d hurry up with that reboot…
8. Manhunt (PS2, PC, XBox) – 2003
Manhunt is actually a very good game. It showed us all that there’s still room for genuinely disturbing material in the otherwise desensitized gaming market. This stealthy horror was banned in several Western countries and was used as a scapegoat to the murder of a teenage boy in England. If you thought that sort of stuff stopped in the ’90s, think again.
7. Leisure Suit Larry (Lots of systems) – 1987 – present
Most of us have very fond memories of this classic adventure game. But, c’mon; you’re placed in the role of a dirty old man trying to score, who kills himself if he doesn’t succeed! Fortunately, the title is pulled off so well that it spawned a series of successful sequels. It has become a legend in the text-input genre. A tasteless premise done right. Right up until those terrible recent titles were launched.
6. Left Behind: Eternal Forces (PC) – 2006
The successful series of eschatological Christian novels may sound like an odd inspiration for a game, and it certainly is. Believers and secularists alike found the title laughable at best, particularly with the undertones of religious violence, the use of rock and gospel music to convert people and the ability to play as the Antichrist in multiplayer games. With bland graphics and clunky controls to top it all off, it feels like a parody which nobody is laughing at.
5. JFK Reloaded (PC) – 2004
A “historical simulation” that, as you might have guessed, lets you play the role of Lee Harvey Oswald and pull off the most well-known assassination of recent times. Although it purports to be educational, we’re all just a little bit puzzled as to what exactly it’s supposed to teach except how to be an expert marksman. It’s questionable just how much of it qualifies as a “game”, but either way, conspiracy theorists should probably not apply.
4. Super Columbine Massacre RPG! (PC) – 2005
Wow. Taking a major tragedy and making a game out of it? A tragedy where games themselves were used as scapegoats? It takes irony to a whole new level. This Zelda-esque RPG puts you in the boots of the two teenage killers where you relive the events of that fateful day in 1999. It’s actually a decent game with some good tongue-in-cheek humor and social commentary, but it was clearly made to offend and succeeds amiably.
3. The Grand Theft Auto series (Lots of systems) – 1997 – present
The Grand Theft Auto titles would be “exhibit A” if any conservative wanted to cite games as glorifying crime and violence, and indeed it has been in that position before. You steal and sell cars, you cause destruction and mayhem, you murder innocent bystanders; it’s made all the better by the fact that it’s been such a runaway success. Honestly, can you blame it?
2. The Postal series (PC) – 1998, 2003, 2012
The Postal games are the very epitome of “psychotic”. Going out of their way to be offensive, they manage to include a level of violence and political incorrectness that will make your grandma shake her head in disgust. Gameplay-wise, there’s not a lot to say as the whole affair is a shamelessly shallow exploitation. Nonetheless, many gamers with a slightly twisted sense of humor have found the series to be rather endearing.
1. Night Trap (Sega CD) – 1993
For a brief time in early 90′s, FMV or full motion video games were all the rage, and Night Trap is perhaps the seminal example. Presented as a low-budget horror flick, you are tasked with protecting a group of girls from overacting, hammy vampires in suits by triggering traps via closed-circuit camera. The premise is laughable and it’s every bit as tacky as it sounds, but the game managed to offend conservatives so much that it was part of congressional hearings in the USA and one of the catalysts that lead to the ESRB rating system. Nonetheless, the game’s awfulness has spawned a cult following and many fans have fond memories of it.