Recently Germany has lifted their ban on both Doom & Doom II after ZeniMax Media appealed to have it removed from the Index (Germany’s blacklist, so to speak). Even the most casual observer will notice that this ban lift is taking place nearly twenty years after the original Doom was released. The games were banned by the — gotta love this title — Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young People. Essentially, this meant that the Doom series couldn’t be sold, advertised, or even seen anywhere juveniles might see it. Which is basically anywhere. And if you’re wondering why Doom III is still banned, it’s because a game has to be on the Index for at least ten years before it can be appealed.
This got me to thinking about what other games have been banned in other countries. For all our worries about censorship & whatnot, the United States is pretty open to video games. I can’t recall any games that have been outright banned in the US. Games may be censored or edited to remove content, but I think the worst the US can do to a game is give it an Adult Only rating. But other countries aren’t as… progressive as the US. Many games get banned, with some countries being more strict than others.
So what games have been outright banned? Here’s a list of the more well-known banned games, as well as a few unknown games whose reasons for being banned deserve mentioning.Bully: Banned in Brazil for violence on school grounds. Call of Duty 4: Banned in Saudi Arabia & UAE* for negative portrayal of Arabs. Carmageddon 1 & 2: Banned in Brazil for violence. Command & Conquer Generals: Banned in China for “smearing the image of China & the Chinese army.” Condemned 1 & 2: Banned in Germany for violence. Dante’s Inferno: Banned in Malaysia & Saudi Arabia for violence, sexual content & religious content. Dead Rising: Banned in Germany for violence. Dead Rising 2: Banned in UAE for violence. Doom: Banned in Brazil for violence. Dragon Age 1 & 2: Banned in UAE for sexual content & homosexual relationships. Duke Nukem 3D: Banned in Brazil for violence. Fallout – New Vegas: Banned in UAE for gambling & sexual themes. God of War: Banned in Saudi Arabia for sexual content & use of “God” in title & in UAE for violence. Grand Theft Auto: Banned in Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, & UAE for violence & Saudi Arabia for sexual content. Grand Theft Auto – Episodes From Liberty City: Banned in Brazil for musical copyright infringement. Hearts of Iron: Banned in China for depicting Tibet, Sinkiang & Manchuria as independent nations & Taiwan as under Japanese control. Heavy Rain: Banned in Saudi Arabia & UAE for sexual content. House of the Dead – Overkill: Banned in Australia for gore & violence. L.A. Noire: Banned in Saudi Arabia for nudity. Leisure Suit Larry – Magna Cum Laude: Banned in Australia for sexual content. Marc Ecko’s Getting Up – Contents Under Pressure: Banned in Australia for glorifying graffiti. Manhunt 1 & 2: Banned in Australia, Germany, Malaysia, New Zealand, & South Korea for violence & torture. Manhunt 2 wasn’t released in Australia. Mass Effect: Banned in UAE for sexual content & homosexual relationships. Mortal Kombat: Banned in Australia, Brazil for violence. NARC: Banned in Australia for drug use. Pokemon trading cards: Banned in Saudi Arabia for “promoting Zionism & gambling.” I know it’s not a video game but this was so bizarre I had to include it. Postal 1 & 2: Banned in Australia, Brazil, & New Zealand for “abhorrent content.” Phantasmagoria: Banned in Australia for a sexually violent scene. Reservoir Dogs: Banned in Australia & New Zealand for violence & torture. Singles – Flirt Up Your Life: Banned in Australia for sexual content. Soldier of Fortune- Payback: Banned in Germany for violence. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2: Banned in the Mexican state of Chihuahua for stereotyping the region.
*UAE stands for United Arab Emirates
As you can see, most countries ban games due to “excessive violence,” but sexual content is also high on the list. Other countries, like China, ban games for political reasons. Some countries, like Thailand, officially ban games but don’t really enforce it. This means the police don’t really do anything to people who buy or sell these titles. There’s an even longer list of games that have been banned but later released with edited versions.
Some other time I’ll write about my opinion of violence, sexual content & censorship in games, but that would take far too long for one post.
But has the US ever outright banned a game? Let me know if there has been.