Video games that took it too far

Jake Hughes
May 31, 2018 - 11:51 am

(Image Courtesy of Dreamstime)

I’m one of the people who holds the opinion that video games are art. Games can make you think, make you feel, make you rage and cry and laugh. They can evoke an emotional response, which is what art is supposed to do. It’s a medium of storytelling specific to the new age. And hey, if you can smear elephant feces on the Virgin Mary, or put a Crucifix in a jar of urine, and call it “art,” then games are, too.

Like all good art, video games are supposed to push boundaries. Safe art is dead art, after all. However, sometimes games allow one to push a bit too much sometimes. People like Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, and the infamous Jack Thompson have campaigned against them when they “go too far.” I always tell these people to shut up and find better things to talk about, but sometimes, even I must take a step back and go, “Dude, what the hell are you doing?”

So, here’s a few games that pushed the envelope too far. Note that I will not be showcasing the infamous “Hot Coffee” mod to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, for two reasons. One, it was deleted content that was buried in source code. Two, because fully-clothed, awkward, pixelated humping pales in comparison to these games. I can't even show previews of these games. Google them if you dare...

Active Shooter (PC)

I almost didn’t use this one as it never made it to gamers. But the mere fact that this exists in this day and age is enough to warrant a conversation. The game was developed by Revived Games and published by a Russian company called Acid, and was set for a Steam release on June 6th. It was marketed as, I kid you not, a “School shooting simulator,” where you could play as a SWAT team member trying to stop the violence, or as the actual shooter on a mission to, “Hunt and destroy.” Almost instantly, Valve pulled the plug, saying the developer was a known “troll” who had made other banned games in the past. In the days of Parkland and Santa Fe High Schools, that was a smart move.

Grand Theft Auto 5 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

The GTA franchise has always been a maypole of controversy, with its depictions of murder, violence, prostitution, etc. It seems, however, that with the fifth installment, they tried to live up to their own hype a bit too hard. There is a scene in the game where you play as Trevor, the psychopathic methhead, and your goal is to get information out of someone. What follows is a series of brutal tortures all controlled by the player through quick-time events. You start by waterboarding the guy. Oh, you say waterboarding isn’t torture? Well, how about pulling teeth with a pair of pliers? Electrocution via a car battery? The scene is difficult to watch, much less control, without squirming or feeling queasy.

Super Columbine Massacre RPG! (PC)

No, I didn’t add that punctuation. Like the title says, it’s a cutesy little RPG with 16-bit graphics, a la Chrono Trigger and the like. You play as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. You make your way through the school, engaging in “battles” with classmates and teachers, complete with actual pictures of the school. The game was made using the online “RPG Maker” by documentary filmmaker Danny Ledonne. He claims his goal was simply to teach about the event using the medium of games, but most people just saw it as an exercise in poor taste.

Atari Porn Games (Atari 2600)

To prove this is nothing new, way back in the 80’s, when Atari was king of the home console market, 2600 games were easy to make and replicate. As a result, tons of third-party developers made bootleg and knock-off games. Some “developers” made sexually explicit games, because hey, what better way to get your jollies than through barely recognizable characters made of pixels the size of house cats? Games like Bachelor Party, Philly Flasher, and Beat ‘em and Eat ‘em were horrible in terms of quality and taste, but by far the most infamous of the lot was Custer’s Revenge. In it, you play as the titular American General, naked, of course, trying to dodge arrows to get to a Native American woman tied to a cactus. When you do, you, well, get your “revenge” in the form of sexually assaulting her. The game caused a massive uproar. Fortunately, the developer went bankrupt in the Video game crash of 1983.