10 Biggest Video Game Scandals
Putting together this list of the 10 Biggest Video Game Scandals was an interesting experience. Some of the scandals shed some light on games and the gaming community. They even taught us about gaming history, like how the ESRB formed. Other gaming scandals are merely incidents of senseless violence, or of politicians trying to push an agenda and exploit a tragic event while doing so. These scandals show off some of the lightest parts of gamer history, when gamers stood up for themselves and said they would not be manipulated by publishers or developers, and the darkest, when employees are needlessly fired and people hurt each other for juvenile reasons. These are the 10 Biggest Video Game Scandals. Read them, and think long and hard about how the gaming community is evolving.
South Korea has a booming professional gaming scene, respected almost as much as professional sports are. How do we know this? Because they have their fair share of illegal gambling scandals. Only a few years ago, 11 e-athletes were accused of throwing Starcraft matches for payoffs. They were in league with illegal gambling cartels that ran “training centers” which really just taught Starcraft players how to throw matches for money. The scandal was so big that the South Korea government got involved! It was called the biggest scandal in e-sports history, and that’s why it’s on our list of 10 Biggest Video Game Scandals.
When Street Fighter x Tekken came out, players were hype to finally see these two fighting game franchises go at it. Unfortunately, that hype faded quickly as data miners very quickly found out that all of the game’s downloadable content which was scheduled to come out several months later was already included on the disk. With a little bit of hacking, gamers played as these complete characters in expanded costumes with no problems whatsoever. Capcom continued to try and defend their choice to put everything on the disk, but in the end it caused the company’s Better Business Bureau rating to fall three points.
It’s a pretty recent scandal, but it’s a scandal nonetheless. When the Xbox One was coming out, rumors were flying around about some pretty draconian DRM. Players would need an always on internet connection, they couldn’t sell used games to each other, the Kinect couldn’t be shut off, and indie studios couldn’t self-publish. Then E3 came around and Sony milked Microsoft’s mistakes for all that they were worth, even making parody videos about how easy it is to share games on the PS4. While Microsoft tried to explain away their decisions, they eventually caved and adopted almost every policy that Sony had before.
Speaking of Sony, one of the biggest gaming scandals was the PS3 security breach that happened a few years ago. This was about the time that the first jailbreak dongles for PS3 hardware were developed. The hacker that first helped to develop them, George Hotz, a.k.a. GeoHot, had come under fire by Sony’s legal team. Shortly thereafter, Anonymous, the internet activism group, attacked Sony, possibly for related reasons. The attack caused the PSN to go offline for several weeks, and possibly even compromised PlayStation users’ personal info. Hotz denied any involvement with the attack, but the two just seemed too coincidental to be unrelated.
The next on our list of the 10 Biggest Gaming Scandals is a sad story for game journalists everywhere. Back in 2007, GameSpot was running a massive Kane and Lynch banner ad, probably worth quite a hefty sum of money. When reviewer Jeff Gerstmann got his hands on the game, he gave it an honest but relatively bad review. Shortly thereafter, Gerstmann was let go from GameSpot. Officially, it was never revealed that Gerstmann’s termination was linked to his poor review of Kane and Lynch, but it’s what nearly everyone believes at this point. Gestmann and several other former editors at GameSpot later went on to form Giantbomb.
We Americans love a god sex scandal, and video games have a ton of them, which is why this entry is on our list of the 10 Biggest Video Game Scandals. Mass Effect was branded as an, "alien sex simulator" by the many pundits on Fox News who had absolutely no idea what they were talking about and never played the game before. They were referring to one scene in the game that involved a romantic bed scene with an alien girl, complete with very tasteful censorship. Yet, to the hordes of scare tactic pundits, this was the pornographic video game of the year.
Now this is the game you go to if you really want some hardcore porn! Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had a famous “Hot Coffee” scene that allowed you to have explicit on screen sex with a woman by participating in a rhythm mini-game. The mini-game was taken out of the final product, because it was deemed too risqué. Unfortunately, all it took was a little bit of hacking and modding and suddenly the mini-game was visible for all to see. Despite the fact that the hot coffee scene was literally taken out of the game because of its explicit nature, conservative America came down on its developers for even having considered it in the first place.
Believe it or not, there was a time when the ESRB didn’t exist. At this time, video games were all unrated. They were just sold, like toys, to whoever wanted to buy them. Some great games of our time came out during these days, like Super Mario Bros. 3, while plenty of unrated piles of crap also came out, like Custer’s Revenge. However, two games really put the fear of the video game gods into parents everywhere; Mortal Kombat with Sub Zero’s spine-rip fatality, and Night Trap, whose entire premise was vampires trying to attack a girls only slumber party. These two games are largely credited for the formation of the ESRB as we know it today.
Whenever a tragic shooting happens, people rush to blame it all on video games, as if watching a violent act always turns someone into a murder machine. Heck, it was accusations like this that made Jack Thompson’s career. However, the biggest scandal was traced back to the one school shooting that has become synonymous with school shootings in general: Columbine. The shooters in this tragic event apparently were fans of Doom, and many tried to say that they trained themselves on this FPS in order to get the courage to open fire on their classmates. Frankly, the very idea of this is sickening. It feels like people are abusing a tragic event just to further their own agenda.
Finally, our number one on the list of the 10 Biggest Video Game Scandals is unfortunately too commonplace to list just one instance. They are game related murders, essentially any person killing another person over a video game. A teen was found guilty of killing his parents over Halo. MMO players have frequently been found guilty of assault and murder over stolen loot. Even a few weeks ago, an eight year-old boy was suspected of killing his grandmother by shooting her in the head, after playing Grand Theft Auto IV. A brief Google search will turn up countless reports of violent acts linked to video game disputes. Sorry to end this list on a downer, but we as a human race need to grow up quick, because no one deserves to die over a Call of Duty match.