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Surprisingly controversial games that were banned

By Cameron McAllister // BBC The Social contributor // 12 April 2021

Violence in video games has been a huge concern for parents and governments since the 70s resulting in games being censored or restricted. It isn’t much of a surprise when you hear games like Mortal Kombat and Doom being banned but sometimes it is the unassuming age three and above rated games that get the contraband stamp.

Here are some surprising games that caused huge controversy across the world.

One of the most surprising games to be banned in an entire country was Football Manager 2005. You remember that shockingly violent and gratuitous edition of the Football Manager series? The game was banned in China, not for violent blood soaked slide tackles or obscene gestures to the referee but instead because of the inclusion of territories such as Taiwan and Hong Kong as separate countries.

Vendors would face fines for selling the game and internet cafes that failed to prevent people installing and playing the game would also receive charges.

People walking around staring at their phones escalated to a whole new level in 2016 as pedestrians stumbled about hunting for virtual creatures in the augmented reality game Pokémon Go. People from all over the world went on walks with their phone-arms outstretched attempting to catch ‘em all. However one country where the augmented creatures were safe from capture was Iran. The country banned the Pokémon Go app because of unspecified security concerns.

Restrictions were also rolled out in other countries such as Indonesia which banned police from playing the game whilst on duty.

Despite being the epitome of video game innocence, the incredibly popular Animal Crossing: New Horizons was removed from sale in China. The real-time life simulator set on a deserted island where you recruit anthropomorphic animals to build a community was a huge success during the pandemic. This was partly down to the fact people could live their social lives vicariously through the game with some couples even getting virtually married in the Nintendo Switch exclusive.

However, the reason the game was removed from sale in China wasn’t due to cyber weddings but Hong Kong activists using the game to stage protests. It wasn’t long before retailers stopped selling the game although it is unclear whether it was under specific instructions by the Chinese government.

One country that took restrictions to another level was Greece. In July 2002, they banned gaming entirely.

Greece made its way into the Guinness Book of World Records as the first country to ban gaming completely

The controversial legislation was designed to stop illegal gambling in the country. Although the law banned people from playing games on consoles and PC at their homes, officials confirmed they would only pursue gamers in public places such as internet cafes. There were reports of people facing fines of up to £95k and even jail time for allowing gamers to play titles like Counterstrike and even Chess.

In September of the same year, the law was amended so that people were allowed to play games as long as there were no financial gains for the player or third party.

Thanks to the brief yet controversial law Greece made its way into the Guinness Book of World Records as the first country to ban gaming.

Although it may be amusing to hear about these bans, it just shows that not even children’s games are safe from censorship boards.