The video game industry has grown to command a huge presence in pop culture and the consumer entertainment business as a whole. More people play games than ever before and the subculture has completely changed, moving from isolated spaces such as arcades and basements, to family rooms and the palms of our hands.
Such an evolution doesn’t come easy and over the past couple of decades video games have made headlines for a variety of unfortunate reasons: from lawsuits to malfunctioning hardware to incomplete games and even unfortunate deaths. Here are 10 controversial events from gaming history to gaming present that captured widespread attention.
10. The Red Ring Of Death
Microsoft intended to usher in the new generation of HD gaming with the Xbox 360. Unfortunately, the system released with crippling technical issues resulting in total system failure that became known as the “Red Ring of Death”, due to the flashing ring of light it used as an indicator.
Microsoft worked to fix these issues and was generous enough to extend warranties and replace malfunctioning units. Despite the issues it faced, the Xbox 360 was generally praised as one of the best consoles of all time thanks to its innovative online features and strong roster of exclusive games.
9. Konami Fires Hideo Kojima
Hideo Kojima has pushed the boundaries when it comes to storytelling, innovative gameplay, and graphical performance in video games. In the minds of many gamers he’s half the reason Konami has stayed relevant in the 21st century.
It was thus a surprise to all when Konami silently dropped Kojima’s branding from the promo materials of Metal Gear Solid V, his next (and final) installment of the hit franchise he created. His collaboration with Guillermo del Toro and Norman Reedus, Silent Hills, was then cancelled just months after it was revealed with a critically-acclaimed demo.
Soon after, Kojima’s name was missing from the company’s list of executives. It was formally announced that he would be leaving the company after MGS V was complete and the company will focus its attention on the mobile platform.
8. Lindsay Lohan Sues GTA V
Last year, Lindsay Lohan tried to sue Grand Theft Auto V makers Rock Star and Take Two Interactive for using her likeness in their game and its promotional materials. She claimed that in addition to basing their design above on the photo of her on the left, they based the in-game character of Lacey Jonas on her.
Of course the case was dismissed by pretty much everyone as ridiculous, and after gracing a few headlines, the story vanished from public consciousness, in much the same way Lohan did years ago. In the game, Lacey is an ignorant, anorexic, fame-obssessed actress famous for her work in teen comedies. Hmm… On second thought, maybe Lindsay had grounds for the suit after all.
7. Arkham Knight’s PC Version Released in Unplayable State
Big name video games are tough to make, often taking years and millions of dollars to get right. But sometimes, even after all that, developers still release steaming piles of garbage. It happened with Assassin’s Creed Unity last year, and many big titles are now shipping with huge hotfixes and day one patches to bring games up to playable standards.
It’s even worse when a developer seems to favor some platforms over another. Such was the case when the final installment in Rocksteady’s Batman series launched smoothly on consoles while being so broken on PC that the company stopped selling new copies and have since announced to expect the game to be ready for PC in September.
6. Yogventures Wasted Half a Million Dollars of Kickstarter Money
The popular YouTube gaming channel Yogscast promised to deliver an immersive world-building game that surpasses even Minecraft. They took to Kickstarter in order to fund the project and more than doubled their goal, totaling out at $567,665 from 13,647 backers.
Sounds great, right? Well, it turns out that people who make funny videos on YouTube don’t necessarily know how to develop video games. The funds were mismanaged throughout the game’s production and they ended up running out of money, leaving those who backed the game pretty much screwed.
5. The 2011 PSN Hack
Sony is no stranger to hacker woes with multiple arms of the giant corporation being hacked at some point or another in the last few years. In 2011, for a period of nearly a month, Playstation’s online service, the PlayStation Network, was shut down due to being compromised by hackers who made off with tons of personal user data and credit card information.
It only took them a few weeks to get the service back up and running but that was more than enough time for customers to lose trust in the service and for the company to lose a reported $171 million when all was said and done.
A female game developer was accused of sleeping with members of the gaming press in order to secure more attention for her game, resulting in an online riot that escalated from angry comments to boycotts and threats against multiple women including feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian.
Nowadays, Gamergate has become something of a joke, and the gaming industry has arguably improved, with more open criticism of equal representation not only in games, but the people who play them.
3. Terrorist Used Call of Duty To Train for 2011 Norway Attacks
It was called the deadliest attack in the history of Norway since World War II. Over the course of one horrific day, Anders Behring Breivik single-handedly killed 77 people and injured 319 more. The attacks were carried out within hours of each other: first a car bomb in the government quarter in Oslo, and then a merciless rampage on the island of Utøya in which he shot and killed 69 people, many of them just teenagers.
Later on, news broke that Breivik’s manifesto described his use of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as a training aid for holographic gun-sights. Modern Warfare 2 was already controversial for an optional mission in which the player, undercover as a terrorist, carries out an attack on unarmed civilians at an airport.
2. 12-year old Girls Stab Friend to Gain Approval of Slender Man
Unlike most ghost stories, which have their origins in ye olden days, Slender Man is a product of an internet meme which was turned into a viral computer game when people posted hilarious reaction videos of them getting freaked out by the game. For 12-year olds Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, the legend was more than just a game, and according to them, their family’s well-being was threatened by Slender Man.
To gain his favor, they lured one of their classmates out into the forest and stabbed her 19 times. Fortunately, it didn’t work and their victim survived. The two girls now face up to 65 years in prison if they are found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder.
1. Couple Lets Their Real Baby Die While Raising a Virtual One
In one of the more shocking and eye-opening cases of gaming and internet addiction, a South Korean couple returned home after a 12 hour gaming session at an internet cafe to find their three-month old daughter dead. The couple, a 41-year-old man and 25-year-old woman, met online and bonded over their love of gaming.
The jobless couple found comfort in the virtual world of Prius, an online game that was popular in the country at the time. The game centered around the care of virtual children called Animas that assisted players on adventures. The couple left Sarang, their daughter, unattended for hours on end, leaving her to slowly starve to death. The shocking story sparked a lot of discussion about the psychological effects of internet gaming and inspired an HBO documentary on the incident called Love Child.