Violence in video games has been an ongoing issue for many years. The controversy that revolves around this matter questions whether or not the content in a game has an effect on the player’s attitude or behaviour. To answer this concern, gaming companies have implemented a rating system for all games, based on the nature of its content, similar to the way the motion picture rating systems work. But even after all of this, people still found a way to complain, implying that some games aren’t rated harshly enough, or that some games are rated too strongly –there’s always disagreement.
Sure, some games are more violent than others, and you may not want your eight year old running people over, or chopping off an enemies head, but that’s up to the parent themselves; it’s not the game developer’s fault if you overlook the mature rating on the box. You wouldn’t blame the director of a film if you let your younger son or daughter watch an R rated movie. However, there have been a few games that stood out compared to the rest, shocking even those old enough to play them. These violent gore-filled titles have really pushed the limits on what it means to “take things too far”. Below you will find some of the more violent video games of all time. The main thing to remember here, is that these are just games, they don’t reflect reality.
When discussing first person shooters, it’s hard not to mention Doom. Considered to be one of the pioneers of its genre, this fast paced FPS didn’t hold back on the gore factor. You play as an unnamed space marine who relentlessly fights his way through hordes of demons, and with so many enemies to take on you will need weapons, and lots of them.
Doom is known for having a wide range of different guns to choose from, but let’s not forget the infamous chainsaw. Wielding this razor sharp death contraption brought the game’s violence factor up to ten. Now, instead of just shooting your enemies, you can saw them in half leaving a bloody trail of demon remains behind you.
9. The Darkness
Killing mobsters in a video game is nothing new, but when you can summon demonic tentacles and tear them limb from limb, it makes for quite a graphic game. In The Darkness you play as Jackie Estacado, a hitman for the mob who acquires demonic powers simply known as “Darkness”.
These powers let you do a number of things, which for the most part involve brutally killing your enemies. The majority of the violence in this game is due to the evil eel-like tentacles you control, which seem to have found endless twisted ways to take out your foes.
8. Dead Space Series
This survival horror game is equally terrifying as it is gruesome. Unlike most games, you can’t just shoot your enemies in order to kill them; in this game, you have to dismember them.
As you make your way through the dark desolate hallways of the USG Ishimura – a mining starship – the main character, Isaac Clarke, finds himself face to face with some of the most terrifying monsters in video game history. With futuristic weapons you can saw, laser, burn, and even stomp the horrifying alien enemies to death.
One of the more violent aspects of this game is contingent upon your death. If you are unsuccessful in defeating your foes, you are then forced to watch your character endure a number of gruesome and horrific deaths.
7. God of War Series
After being tricked into killing his family, protagonist and video game legend Kratos embarks on a long and bloody quest for revenge. Loosely based on Greek mythology, this action adventure game is known for its combo-based fighting system, puzzle solving, and of course its brutally violent quick time event cinematic sequences.
If mutilating your enemies with a pair of double-chained blades isn’t violent enough, don’t worry. You will get to control Kartos as he rips the head off Helios with his bare hands, and even beats Zeus to death so savagely that your entire TV screen gets covered in blood. The Ghost of Sparta is not to be reckoned with.
6. Soldier of Fortune
This game is best known for implementing an engine that lets you kill your enemies with extremely graphic precision, fittingly named the “GHOUL engine”. In this first person shooter, you can choose what part of the body you want to shoot off, whether it be the head, arms, legs, or even the stomach, there’s a gory animation for it all.
The fact that you choose how to dismember your foes makes this game all the more violent. The game’s engine benefits sharpshooters as well, letting you shoot the guns right out of your enemies hands, but let’s face it: most people aren’t going to play this game for its less violent features.
5. Grand Theft Auto Series
Rockstar’s massive open world action adventure games have become one of the most successful gaming franchises out there. With the freedom to go anywhere and do anything, this game was destined for madness.
If its violent missions and vulgar cut scenes aren’t enough, you can spend the day running people over in one of its many vehicles, or you could perch yourself on the top of a high-rise and snipe the passers-by.
The list of violent crimes you can commit in this game are truly endless. With such freedom, it’s hard not to find yourself in an all-out warzone killing everyone in your path.
4. The Punisher
Based on marvel comics anti-hero Frank Castle aka the Punisher, this third person shooter introduced some of the most graphic executions in video game history. You play through a series of flashbacks in which you can choose to either kill or torture certain enemies. The severity of the torture sequences led to The Punisher being one of the only games ever threatened with an ESRB rating of AO (Adults Only).
To avoid this rating, the developers chose to show the interrogation scenes in black-and-white, bringing the rating down to M for mature. Regardless of the use of black-and-white, these extremely gruesome torture scenes are nothing to bat an eye at.
3. Mortal Kombat Series
The world famous fighting series is responsible for the birth of the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) because of its high levels of bloody violence and popularity. In this game, you fight against your opponent using a long list of button combinations to perform unrealistic yet awesome kombat moves.
The game’s violence is apparent right off the bat, but its famous “Fatality” system is the true culprit behind spawning the ESRB. After beating your opponent, you can then perform a Fatality, furthering their humiliation. These gory finishing moves include incinerating your opponent, ripping them in half like a wish bone, and even tearing off their head with their spinal cord dangling below. The list of Fatalities are endless and become more and more gruesome with the release of each game.
Rockstar Games makes it on the list a second time with its stealth-based survival horror game, Manhunt. You play as a death row prisoner given a chance to win back your freedom by killing a gang named “The Hoods”.
The game revolves around finding new and sadistic ways to kill your enemies. The graphic violence in this game is unthinkable; you can pretty much kill people with anything from plastic bags to crowbars. Every execution seems real and horrific, so much so that it was banned in several countries and was even implicated in a murder by the UK media.
Even the staff involved in the making of the game admitted to feeling uncomfortable, says former Rockstar employee Jeff Williams: “There was almost a mutiny at the company over that game”.
1. Postal 2
Talking about violence in video games, Postal 2 crossed the line on every level. It’s all out madness in this first-person shooter developed by studio Running With Scissors. You play as a character simply named “Postal Dude” and are given mundane tasks to complete such as getting milk, or confessing your sins.
The violence is put in the hands of the player; the game never actually tells you to commit any violent acts, but their accessibility is obvious. The game features a long list of brutal and sadistic ways to kill people; for example, you can walk into a building, set everyone on fire and urinate on their corpses. It’s really messed up!
The controversy surrounding this game is on a grand scale. New Zealand has not just banned the game but has considered it a criminal offense, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $275,000.