Horror novelist Stephen King recently caused a stir when he wrote in his Entertainment Weekly column that violent videogames shouldn’t be banned – merely that parents should "have the guts" to tell their kids they wouldn’t be allowed to play them.
Video game violence is a touchy topic amongst many – but what are the worst of the worst? Here’s a quick list of the five most objectionable games of the past twenty-five years.Custer’s Revenge (Atari 2600) (1982)
: Custer’s Revenge is somewhat unique. It’s one of the earliest attempts at on-screen nudity – this is an Atari 2600 game, after all. It’s also just about the only game we can come up with that uses rape as a gameplay tactic, as a curiously pants-free General Custer attempts to ravage a low-res Indian maiden while avoiding getting an arrow straight through his… well, we’ll let you work out the rest.Night Trap (Mega-CD) (1992)
: Night Trap caused controversy not only in Australia, but even in the US, where much sterner material isn’t even required to be classified. It’s a clichéd horror movie staple – a house, several scantily clad girls and a group of killers that only you can defeat, all played out in glorious early 90’s FMV-vision. Strangely, the later released PC, Mac and 3DO versions barely raised an eyebrow.Carmageddon (PC) (1997)
: SCI Interactive’s take on Death Race 2000 raised more than a few eyebrows back in 1997, due largely to the fact that you could win races either by getting to the finish line first – or by wiping out every pedestrian on the course first. It’s notable in the Australian context because while there was a certain amount of public and political outcry, the OFLC passed it uncut with an MA15+ rating – still the highest rating any game can have.Thrill Kill (PSOne) (1998)
: It’s one thing when the government bans a game. But when a publisher does? That’s exactly what happened with Thrill Kill, a four-player Playstation One game that EA declared “senselessly violent”, and scrapped shortly before it was due to hit retail shelves. Manhunt (2003)
: While Rockstar’s GTA series is more famous for violence, it’s the company’s dark, gritty murder-voyeur simulation that holds a few records, at least for Australian readers. The first game was passed by the OFLC in October 2003, but then refused classification in September 2004, essentially due to to political pressure – and when arguably anyone who wanted a copy of the game already had one. What do you think? Did we miss out some obvious candidates? Is King right in his approach?
Also see our guide to Sleeper Hits: The games of 2008