Video games have a long history of pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable. And, interestingly enough, these boundary pushing games also have a reputation of being very successful, despite controversy. In fact, many would argue that they were successful entirely because of the controversy they generated. Unlike the online bingo Australia offers and other more staid games, there are some that are simply designed to shock.
This created an environment where video game makers were purposefully making controversial games, simply as a means to ensure the success of their game. But what is the line of acceptable boundary pushing in video games? And game a game simply go too far, and breach all levels of common decency? Let’s take a look.
Mortal Kombat And Early Controversy
Arguably the game that started the trend of success achieved by controversy is the classic Mortal Kombat. Released back in 1992, the game created a storm of outrage due to it’s excessive violence. At its core a simple 2D fighter, the game stood apart for revelling in what were termed fatalities. A fatality allowed the winning player to mercilessly kill their opponent, if inputting a sequence of controller commands at the right time.
Mortal Kombat was not an outstanding fighting game, at least in comparison to other fighting games at the time, such as Street Fighter 2. But the game still managed to do incredibly well, first at arcades, and then via home versions playable on consoles. The question is; would Mortal Kombat have done half as well were it not for the controversy? The obvious answer is; of course it wouldn’t have. And so controversy became a selling point.
Mortal Kombat went on to have multiple sequels, including the most recent, Mortal Kombat XL, which released in 2016 to much praise and acclaim. Note that the fatality aspect of the game is now all but casually acknowledged by gamers and critics, despite being more violent than ever before.
On the other hand, Grand Theft Auto released in 1997, also to enormous controversy. The game allowed players to steal cars at will, run over pedestrians, and otherwise cause mayhem in a virtual city. As with Mortal Kombat, the controversy catapulted the game into success, and a long running franchise. Each release of the franchise was again steeped in outrage, given the increasing levels of questionable activities players are able to perform. It is, of course, now the active goal of the developers to keep increasing the controversy levels of each game, in order to keep it in the media spotlight.
Going Too Far?
But it is possible to go too far with intentional controversy. Manhunt, also by the creators of Grand Theft Auto, saw players violently killing enemies in chillingly realistic ways. The first game saw a storm of outrage, which granted the game some success. Manhunt 2, however, was banned in multiple countries. As a result, the game was a complete failure.
Thrill Kill, another game that never saw the light of day due to it’s excessive violence, never saw release at all, making it dead before even being played. It seems that video games can go too far.