Gaming's 10 Biggest Scandals of All-time

July 16, 2007 -
Games are supposed to be fun, right? So why do they make negative headlines so often?

Here at GamePolitics we thought it would be fun to track the most publicized gaming scandals ever and we'd like your help. Check out our Top Ten below and then vote (right sidebar) for your choice of the biggest video game scandal of all time.

25 to Life (2006) - Politicians and police groups decried Eidos' cops & robbers shooter; game reviewers hated it too, but for a different reason: it sucked

Hot Coffee (2005) - needs no introduction. Cheeky Rockstar programmers left hidden sex animations (accidentally or otherwise) buried in the PS2 code of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Modders made sure they didn't stay buried for long. Rockstar's denials only made things worse. And then Hillary got involved...

Xbox 360 Red Rings of Death (2007) - Microsoft hid the extent of the 360's hardware failures for far too long; even now they won't say what caused the failures or how widespread the problem is, but it must be a lot because MS has set aside a billion dollars to deal with it

SimCopter (1996) - a gay programmer making a social statement secretly coded animations of men kissing to appear during game play on certain dates; he got fired and Simcopter was re-released without the guy-smooching

Manhunt 2 (2007) - officialy banned in the U.K. and effectively banned by an AO rating stateside; was it the intense violence level or the ESRB's payback to Take Two for Hot Coffee? Either way, this drama is ongoing as T2 reviews its options

PS3 Launch (2006) - fights, riots, shootings - and we're not talking about the games - these were the unanticipated features of the PS3 launch, fueled by system shortages and overhyped consumer expectations

Columbine (1999) - when it was revealed that Dylan Harris and Eric Klebold were fans of Doom, the news fueled a firestorm of criticism over game violence that reached the Clinton White House and continues even now.

Resistance: Fall of Man (2007) - When religious leaders at Manchester Cathedral learned that PS3 launch title Resistance: Fall of Man included a level based on the interior of the house of worship they demanded a recall, drawing a dubious linkage between Resistance and local gun violence in Manchester. The story made international headlines and earned criticism from then-Prime Minister Tony Blair and Parliament. Sony issued an apology, but officials still aren't satisfied.

Super Columbine Massacre RPG (2006) - Designer Danny Ledonne wanted to use the video game medium to explore the reasons behind the Columbine shootings; Although some acclaimed Ledonne's effort, others hated it; the game was blamed by some for Kimveer Gill's shooting rampage at Montreal's Dawson College and made more headlines when officials of the Slamdance Competition yanked SCMRPG from the event.

Night Trap (1993) - the bloody Sega CD offering featured down on her luck actress Dana Plato and became the subject of hearings in the U.S. Senate over its violence; the controversy helped launch the ESA and, ultmately, the ESRB.

There's no doubt we left out some scandals, but we had to whittle the list down to ten. If we missed your favorite, feel free to let us know in comments, or use the "other" box on the poll.

And be sure to vote for the top video game scandal of all time!



With the whole XBOX 360 thing, although I don't own one it reminds me of the Disc Read error so prevalent on PS2. I think this deserves to be mentioned alongside the XBOX scandal since there was a class action resulting from the poor design of early models, and sad to say I have had two of the older pre-slim ps2s that suffered from this problem.

Apparently somebody hasn't done one bit of real research to realize that Night Trap has absolutely positively no blood in it.

I second what HidariMak said. There isn't any blood in Night Trap. If anybody thinks so then they haven't played it.

Pssst... I'm not a 'modder'. The whole Hot Coffee thing wasn't a mod. I'm tired of people saying it was the modding community... it was a built in cheat that they hid. Cheats are usually activated by changing a "0" to a "1"... this one was a bit different, I just found a "01" that was near all of the other in game cheats and changed it to "00"... BOOM Hot Coffee on PS2 and Xbox was born.

"Night Trap (1993) - the bloody Sega CD offering..." Uhhh, what? The monsters were dropped through trapdoors on the floor, and the victims were bloodlessly dragged off the screen when they were caught. And the Night Trap critisisms were from those claiming that the object of the game was to trap the young women in the game, when the reality was protecting them.

Mortal Kombat drew a lot of media wrath, for reasons which were more accurate. Bloody decapitations were newer then.

I voted for "Other" and made my reason the fact that none of them should be considered "Scandals" by any stretch of the word.

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[...] Check out the list and start voting here now Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

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[...] Gaming’s 10 Biggest Scandals Of All-Time - GP [Posted by Marxi Julien on Monday, July 16th, 2007 at 4:39 PM.] Click here to read more | Source [...]

[...] Where were you when Night Trap hit the senate floors? Our favorite watchdogs over at GamePolitics have compiled a list of what they believe to be the 10 biggest gaming scandals of all time. What’s at the top of the list? Well, you decide that part via a nifty poll on their front page. [...]

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I've actually found a copy of thrill kill and converted it to work with the psp playstation emulator.

[...] Where were you when Night Trap hit the senate floors? Our favorite watchdogs over at GamePolitics have compiled a list of what they believe to be the 10 biggest gaming scandals of all time. What’s at the top of the list? Well, you decide that part via a nifty poll on their front page. [...]

ET anyone? Not sure if it'd count as a scandal, but it was coded in a ridiculous amount of time, unbeatable, and so horrid they buried many copies of it in the desert. That's a pretty big pile of something right there.

Q: "Games are supposed to be fun, right? So why do they make negative headlines so often?"
A:It's people's common but human gut reaction to something they don't know. Ignorance->Predjudice->Fear and so on. Their mind says, "Something like this should not exist. IT'S DIFFERENT!" So they go into good ol' irrational mode, which will always coexist in mankind's mind, oy. Also, it makes for a great news story. OH the DRAMA! The DANGER of one PLAYING IT! UGUU~ I don't know Deutsch, oy. (German)

Super Columbine Massacre RPG was pretty big, although I don't know why he named it that, couldn't he figure out that people would judge the game based solely off the title as something it's not? I hope more games come out like that.

I don't think anyone mentioned the Gizmondo be-all-but-be-crappy portable game machine, along with it's shady high society turned jail inmate company owner Stefan Erikkson. Anytime someone involved in gaming crashes a Ferrari, claims to work for law enforcement, blames the crash on a newfound unknown friend even though his own blood is on the steering wheel, has a hot wife whose several hundred thousand dollar Mercedes gets impounded on TV, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. This has to be one of the top scandals in gaming, not to mention should be made into a movie.


Um haven't the ratings gotten a bit.... looser?

I'd say Thrill Kill for PSX should be in there. It was never finished due to the violent content.

It's fantastic if you can actually score an unfinished copy.


A massive wall is constructed between content developers and consumers by the combined oligopolies of the console makers and major retailers ensuring that non-pornographic content deemed to extreme for those under the age of 17 never see the light of day. Multinational corporations, having attained the unquestionability status of ancient kings/ dictators, go unquestioned. The wall is shrugged at by consumers as they sit back on their couch to wallow in there own apathy, patiently awaiting the day unemployed lawyers converge on a popular high-profile title reasoning, anyway they can, that certain content within should not be viewed by 17 year olds and the rating of said title should be bumped up a notch. News and parenting organizations agree wholeheartedly and make a big stink, coercing the ESRB to reevaluate its ratings criteria and striking fear into the hearts (

[oh, i got cut off]

...striking fear into the hearts (

[huh? i guess i should copy before hitting post]

(wallets) of content developers, and all future video games are based on the concept of petting cute animals (but not too hard).

What about Bully???

Maybe people should wake up about video game violence, which results in zero deaths (or at the very least, the deaths of a few darwin award candidates).... and pay attention to the tens to hundreds of thousands being people killed by the actions of governments. Your very own tax dollars lead ultimately to their deaths. So who is immoral?

Governments=Gang Warfare.. but on a larger scale and with big guns/bombs. Just replace the Red and Blue bandanna with your nation's flag.


Ouch. I imagine you had at least one friend with a Sega CD to play Sonic. My mom was strangely fine with games of all sort, since there wasn't anything like GTA on the market tainting my mind. I mean, Motor City Patrol did inspire me something awesome fierce to shoot at red vans. Naturally.

Of course I had a very strange Pagan mother with mental instabilities.

I voted Night Trap also, since shortly after that fell the Surgeon General's "report" full of out of context citing, and generally one-sided investigation methods.

Let's look at the scope of things. Hot Coffee has led to a bunch of un-constitutional laws, and the worst thing that could happen is the failing of 1 game developer.

Night Trap was the culmination of the initial 'discovery' of violence in video games which, to my knowledge was first seen in the up roar over the silly MK fatalities. This culmination led to the ESA, which similar to the MPAA, created it's own self-governing ratings board which we are all familiar with (ESRB) to protect itself. And also like the MPAA, once they are out from under the spotlight of scrutiny, will have to be watched closely by consumers to stop from the excesses teh MPAA has been pulling on us. This definitely has farther reaching implications that Hot Coffee, which really was just a result of a mistake by TTWO/R* and the same scrutiny that started with MK and came to a head with Night Trap.

If you vote for Hot Coffee, you show your age. Younger gamers probably don't recall that hullaballoo, but us 'old farts' do. In fact, Night Trap was the reason my mom wouldn't let me save my allowance/birthday/Xmas funds for a Sega CD. (A good thing in the long run, but I really wanted the Sonic game for it).

I voted Night Trap.

Yeah...gaming scandals without being filled with Nintendo headlines? Most of these things are from pretty friggin' recent. There are TONS from yesteryear. Tetris for one (and its distribution). Nintendo almost putting Capcom out of business. The whole reason the PS1 came out...etc...etc...

I dunno Daikatana was better than Q4 and D3 put together.... sure the story sucked but setting+level design+ weapons were way way better.


Really? I was unaware that Jesus made an official press release regarding the Resistance debacle.

America's army, a game who's purpose is to recruit fresh meat for the battlefield. I find it appalling

Well I don't really think the ps3 launch was even a scandal.... but this clearance sale would come a lot closer to qualifying as such.

How about John Romero, who made NO ONE his bitch?

I'm surprised you didn't mention the whole Derek Smart thing with BC3000

Nevermind, i forgot about the fighting and shootings....

aesir05: Phantom is now a company that will produce a "lapboard" of some sort. Some sorta gaming wireless keyboard. Guess they finally spent all the 10's of millions of bucks n00b investors gave them.

They've basically given up the entire console business at this point.

My Vote: Hot Coffee (not even close...)

I do agree with Soldatlouis, Arlen, others, however, in that if there were some sort of "Mortal Kombat/Night Trap/Lieberman/Kohl" choice, I would've had a harder time picking. Even so, while the congressional hearings a decade and a half ago were the most politically significant games-related event ever in the U.S., I still think Hot Coffee will be remembered as the most "scandalous."

More missing controversies

1) GTA made me do it:
The multiple court cases, which had Jack Thompson involved in one part or another, where shootings and car jackings were blamed on GTA Vice City and San Andreas.

2) Governer of Illinois to state residents - unconstitutional videogame legislation is more important than welfare, schools, and the rest of the state budget:
When his little pet project got struck down as unconstitutional, the governor of Illinois took the case to court, lost, and ended up paying over $1,000,000 in court costs, all at the expense of taxpayers.

3) Dawson College Shooting in Montreal:
the shooter obsessed over Postal and Postal2, and made the biggest arguement against violent videogames since columbine.

@Timmayl : actually, the outrage over SCMRPG incudes Dawson College Shooting. But it's true that this shooting is quite different from the others, because this time, the killer had the full collection of most controversial games : Postal, Postal 2, 25 to Life, Manhunt, GTA Vice City, GTA San Andreas, Soldier of Fortune 2...

"Terminator44 Says:
2: V-Tech: The Game. If SCMRPG was an appetizer for crtics of homebrew games, this was the main course. Controversy over the game’s premise wasn’t helped by the creator’s response, which many pegged as uncaring and downright rude."

I would have to say that game was nothing but a cry for attention. The Columbine game has made a bigger impact on the community at large, while V-tech was a cheap copycat.

I think we need a second list for "Politician and Video Games: You Tax Dollars At Work." ;)

My 2cents, Mortal Kombat should be mentioned too. Oh Night Trap, that game is so funny.

Hot Coffee first.

EvE online's developer-gate scandal second. CCP has been a prime example of how NOT to deal with your customers of late.


The one I would've voted for.

V-Tech Rampage. He made a terribly tasteless game, too soon after V-Tech, and when demanded to have his game taken down by many people, actually wanted MONEY for it.

Night Trap. For helping to create the ESRB, and ensuring that for many decades to come, "adult" themed games would be considered "taboo" on consoles...
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

My top 3 scandals that were NOT on the list:

1:Mortal Kombat. This was really the kicker. It wasn't the first game with blood in it. It wasn't even Midway's first game with blood. But the unprecedented realism of the game (for the time) shocked politicians and parents who saw game technology as advancing too fast. It ultimately led to the creation of the ESRB, and the public's belief that mature games are little more than mindless gorefests.

2: V-Tech: The Game. If SCMRPG was an appetizer for crtics of homebrew games, this was the main course. Controversy over the game's premise wasn't helped by the creator's response, which many pegged as uncaring and downright rude.

3: GTA: Vice City (Hatian) controversy. A single line in the game's dialouge, taken out of context, brought down racial sensitivity groups on Rockstar and protests at T2's headquaters. While it wasn't long-lasting, this debacle forever sullied the GTA series' reputation in the eyes of the media, and was a perfect springboard for the Devin Moore incident, Hot Coffee, and other controversites surrounding the series.

Eve-online has had its fair share of scandals, ranging from developer's cheating in the game to user in-game theft of isk worth several hundred thousand dollars in real world money.

Whatever happened to the Phantom.....those guys ran off with the money that they raised or what?

Last I heard it was going to be a software solution rather than a hardware one.

What about that Roller Coaster Tycoon video where the guy kills all of the people with the half-built coaster? That's very scandalous!


De top 10 (recente) games schandalen...

Gamepolitics heeft een aardig artikel in elkaar gedraaid met een top 10 van games schandalen. De meeste draaien uiteraard om geweld. De recentste gebeurtenissen zijn natuurlijk Manhunt 2, Resistance en de Church of England, de Hot Coffee mod en natuurl...

I forgot to add this but if you are looking for something good to watch in TV there is a special on the criminally insane of worth. I don't recall if it is on MSNBC or not, but it showcased America's horrible correctional conditions for those with severe mental conditions. It showcased the stories of Dahmer, Theodore Kaczynski, the Columbine Duo, Seung-Hui Cho, and others. There was so mention of video games to blame for their actions, only faults in detecting their problems soon enough to get them help or to act on that knowledge. In Cho's case they highlighted the lack of any system to account for him when he failed to go through the ordered treatment.

It was nice to see reporting that did not latch onto the moronic statements about video games to explain why people went off the deep end. We've had crazed rampagers/calculated killers for centuries, but now we wish to blame media for our inabilities to combat the holes in our social services and criminal justice systems. I would imagine that in some cases media serves as a diversion for those with such scattered thoughts requiring medication and therapy, keeping a few in tow until they can be reached.
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