Censorship and video games share a long and colorful history with one another, a history underscored by a frustrating policy: graphic violence is fine, but show any sex and people lose their minds. LeoPirate deftly exposed this perplexing double standard upheld by ratings boards in this succinct video:
However, as keen as they are to shield eyes from stray nipples, sex isn't the only issue that gets the ban-hammers swinging. Here are 10 games that became illegal across the world for the most controversial of reasons:
1. 'Mass Effect 2'
Banned in: Singapore
For: Visible lesbianism
The original Mass Effect was banned in Singapore because of a "lesbian sex scene" between a female and an androgynous alien. Its sequels were also banned in the United Arab Emirates because of the homosexual relationships the player can engage in.
2. 'Pokémon Trading Card Game'
Banned in: Saudi Arabia
For: Promoting Zionism
Pokémon might seem like a pretty innocuous video game, but it managed to get itself in serious trouble in Saudi Arabia where mufti, the highest religious authority in the Muslim state, outlawed its play. The religious edict claimed the game featured symbols that include "the star of David, which everyone knows is connected to international Zionism and is Israel's national emblem." Some fundamentalists even claimed 'Pokémon' means 'I am Jewish.'
3. 'Football Manager 2005'
Banned in: China
For: Recognizing Tibet as a country
Football Manager 2005 was banned in China because it recognized Tibet as an independent country. The government therefore felt it was "harmful to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity" and that it "seriously violates Chinese law and has been strongly protested by our nation's gamers."
4. 'Saints Row 4'
Banned in: Australia
For: Anal probing
The following extract from the ACB's official report pretty much sums it up: "In the Board's opinion, a weapon designed to penetrate the anus of enemy characters and civilians constitutes a visual depiction of implied sexual violence that is interactive and not justified by context and as such the game should be Refused Classification." The game was eventually modified and re-released Down Under, minus the probe.
5. 'EA Sports MMA'
Banned in: Denmark
For: Advertising energy drinks
Apparently Denmark has laws restricting the advertisement of energy drinks in their country. As such, EA stated that "We are adhering to laws in Denmark... and therefore are not shipping EA Sports MMA in that region." The publisher refused to simply back down and remove the ads, claiming it would ruin the authenticity of their rendition of the sport. Artistic integrity, huh?
6. 'The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings'
Banned in: Australia
For: Rewarding the player through sex
Okay Australia, we get the message. Sex is bad and should be in no way enjoyed. Nor should anyone watch a virtual avatar get it on in return for a monster well slain. Sorry, Geralt.
Banned in: Brazil
For: Taking place in a school
Rio Grande do Sul prosecutor Alcindo Bastos took umbrage at Rockstar's adventure game for a rather bizarre reason: it "takes place inside a school [and] that is not acceptable." The judge who heard this puzzling objection ruled that all sales of the game were to be suspended in the region. Makes sense... wait.
8. 'Medal of Honor'
Banned in: US military bases
For: Allowing you to play as the Taliban
Though you controlled the good ol' American war hero during the game's campaign, multiplayer mode let you play as the fundamentalist group. As you might imagine, this didn't go down so well in the US military, getting MOH banned from all bases, worldwide. I guess they weren't looking for any other perspectives.
9. 'Dragon Age: Inquisition'
Banned in: India
For: Homosexual scenes
Om Prakash Singhal, vice-president of the right wing Indian organization Vishva Hindu Parishad, said the ban was:
"A right decision, we welcome it.... Homosexuality is against Indian culture, against nature and against science. We are regressing, going back to when we were almost like animals."
10. 'Injustice: Gods Among Us'
Banned in: United Arab Emirates
Yep, this superhero-studded fighter was censored for using the 'G' word. Even though the publisher changed the front of the box to read "The Might Among Us," the text "Gods Among Us" still appeared in the game which was thusly removed from UAE shelves.