10 taboos and the games that broke them

3. Bestiality

The taboo: There's apparently a lot of confusion here. “Animal husbandry” doesn't mean what you think it does: neither Civilization nor Samurai Shodown are actually filthy, oddly hilarious works of perversion. But by the same token, “Zoophilia” is not a U2 album. Just recently, a New York cocaine mogul got those basic notions confused, and a news story rife with nauseating details ensued. Don't make the same mistake! Loving animals is fine; loving animals in the Biblical sense, not so much so.

Pushing the limits: It's tricky to pin down exactly what constitutes bestiality in a medium where homo sapiens are often in a minority. Is it bestiality when The Elder Scrolls' humanoid Dunmer get freaky with regular human beings? If PaRappa is a dog, does that make it bestiality when he tries to get it on with a talking sunflower? When Assassin's Creed 2 tells you, “dude's been doing his livestock and you need to tell him to quit it,” it's a moment of refreshing (if gross) clarity.

Going too far: Talking animals for kids? Fine, cute, delightful. Talking animals for hormonally-charged teenagers, mixing with human folk?



A thousand times no.

2. Necrophilia

The taboo: Whether it's games, movies or shock-rock, the vast majority of corpse-sex call-outs are along the lines of Clerks' infamous body-in-the-bathroom scene. Anyone who wants to treat the subject with maturity – such as the movie Kissed or Chuck Pahlaniuk's book Lullaby – has a lengthy history of perverts, serial killers and wildly unqualified undertakers to deal with.

Pushing the limits: “What's the penalty for necrophilia in Cyrodiil?” asks Oblivion's personable necromancer. When you tell her, she smiles: “That's much more lenient than in Morrowind!” That's a fair representation of the level of most necrophile references – in games or elsewhere. Scenes like Indigo Prophecy's creepily compassionate corpse-pashing sequence are much rarer.

Going too far: Leave it to the pervs at Nintendo to push the necrophile boundaries. After Super Paper Mario had primed players to think that there was nothing weird about a turtle being in love with a ghost, nobody batted an eyelid when The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks presented a protracted love story between a boy and a disembodied spirit. Either that, or they'd tuned out during the game's five-year cutscenes.

1. Cannibalism

The taboo: Whether it's stranded pioneersrugby players forced to consume human flesh, or serial killers real and fictional alike choosing to violate the ultimate taboo, the fascination with cannibalism is matched only by its status as modern society's most prohibited act. Consequently, films, books and games alike are replete with descriptions of the taste of the most forbidden of foods. (Much like pork, apparently.)

Pushing the limit: In Fallout 3, the player infiltrates a cannibal cult who do their damnedest to justify their lifestyle: you'll let them eat anything if it would stop their yakking. But this is that rare game where cannibalism is a viable player choice: much more common is the subject's vilification in games like Jade Empire or F.E.A.R. Arguably gaming's weirdest cannibal moment comes in Terranigma, where a trapped character eats her husband's corpse for the nourishment she needs to escape. And you thought the SNES era was the golden age of overcensorship.

Going too far: Once again, it's Nintendo who lose the plot. Having stated their position on cannibalism in Super Mario Bros 2 (try getting through the game without having Toad feast on his own kind), Big N made a franchise out of anthropophagy with the Kirby games. Sentient, intelligent, alive or dead, the little pink maniac eats anything he can fit his insatiable maw around – up to and including fellow whatever-the-hell-species-Kirby-is creatures like Meta Knight. Oh, and then he wears their eviscerated skin as a costume. Ed Gein had nothing on Kirby.

May 28, 2010

The Top 7... Controversies waiting to happen
Sex! Murder! Godless blasphemy and animal abuse! How could the media possibly miss these button-pushing games?

The 10 most shocking game moments of the decade
A decade's worth of game taboo breakers dredged together into one filthy list

8 game characters we’d go furry for
If it wears people clothes, it’s alright


  • Apollomon - June 2, 2010 3:38 p.m.

    through the whole beastiality video i was like ~WTF WTF WTF!! it just looks wierd and! just...creepy and...wierd!!!
  • cart00n - June 1, 2010 7:25 a.m.

    I'm surprised RDR wasn't mentioned for all its rampant cannibalism. You may not see it in action, but I've come upon WAY too many questionable campsites in the game to not know what's going on... reCaptcha: now evasive
  • 88Meters - May 31, 2010 1:25 p.m.

    @Vitoruss1 (if I spelled that right) There are actually THREE ways Ethan can die. One is, if you don't save Shaun and have sex with Madison. You'll have a cutscene where Ethan pulls out a gun and puts a bullet through his head right infront of Madison. Next one, in Ethan's house, he can shoot himself in the head without Madison. Last one, if he's arrested, he hangs himself in his jail cell.
  • CH3BURASHKA - May 31, 2010 10:36 a.m.

    IMO Persona 3 gets too much credit for being "edgy" and "risque". Initially, the connotations of suicide are clear and feel impactful, but once it became a core game mechanic it lost all meaning. A game that addressed suicide amazingly well is Deadly Premonition. For anyone following the (now concluded) Endurance Run on Giant Bomb must have also felt shocked at *that* scene, much more so than by P3's constant use of the suicide animation.
  • Geminiman82 - May 31, 2010 4:07 a.m.

    nicely done!
  • lovinmyps3 - May 30, 2010 7:41 p.m.

    Kirby. lmao
  • Fmrfox - May 30, 2010 5:16 p.m.

    I think Red Dead Redemption should also be in this list for numbers 2 (guy with dead wife) and 1 (self-explanatory)
  • ComradeKhani - May 30, 2010 3:18 a.m.

    For Bestiality, don't forget Army of Two: 40th day, when Salem talks about the time Rios laid with a Panda.
  • cyanide4suicide - May 30, 2010 1:28 a.m.

    Interesting article. The bestialaty part made me laugh, especially the TMNT pic.
  • SeriousSean - May 29, 2010 11:33 p.m.

    The Witcher had swearing, sex, nudity, suicide, and cannibalism. With rape thrown in for good measure. Not a happy game.
  • D0CCON - May 29, 2010 8:45 p.m.

    Red Dead Redemption had an interesting one for beastiality. In the stranger sidequest, "Who are You to Judge?" (pretty well named), you are asked to retrieve a man's love, which turns out to be a horse. The best part happens if you pay attention to the game's newspapers. A later edition will mention how a man married a horse.
  • elchetos - May 29, 2010 6:42 p.m.

    R-Ape, Openly homosexual protagonist, Racism, Openly attacking religion (and not the hush hush blasphemy towards made up cults), child sax... There are a lot of taboos to choose from
  • mubobi7593 - May 29, 2010 5:31 p.m.

    Great, if very, very strange article! But I have one question... Is it still necrophilia if you have sex with a zombie? >_>
  • frmonth - May 29, 2010 2:34 p.m.

    What game contains the CG sonic cutscenes with girl because I have never seen something as disturbing as that. Thank god I have never bought a 3D sonic game.
  • philipshaw - May 29, 2010 10:21 a.m.

    This is the sort of stuff the industry needs to tackle well at some point so that it can be taken as seriously as films. Kojima is good at this stuff
  • Clovin64 - May 29, 2010 9:21 a.m.

    Sorry to double comment, but you really should have mentioned Pyramid Head in Silent Hill 2 for Necrophelia. Oh Pyramid Head! You and your relentless lust for dead monsters! We still love you though.
  • Clovin64 - May 29, 2010 9:19 a.m.

    That Sonic romance thing was all kinds of wrong, and it looked bloody stupid too. Also, who would have thought that Nintendo is the most Taboo breaking sick twisted games company ever? Actually I probably would have guessed. Theres something about that Mario guy that doesnt sit right with me.
  • Samael - May 29, 2010 5:48 a.m.

    Really? Cannibalism is #1? I thought for sure it would be the R-Ape. Guess it would be pretty difficult to make that entry funny though... Good, informative article either way.
  • WickedSid - May 29, 2010 4 a.m.

    Wow, Thanks a lot Tom Goulter of GamesRadar US for ruining my happy childhood memories of the cannibalistic homicidal maniac Kirby. (Sarcasm addition definitely needed for I do not wish to be angered at.) That is all, Thank you.
  • Vitoruss1 - May 29, 2010 3:29 a.m.

    ~HEAVY RAIN SPOILER ALERT~ There were actually TWO DIFFERENT FORMS of suicide that Ethan could have committed at the end of the game. I'm surprised that that wasn't put into the game-- and especially because he seemed to be the most realistic depiction of just "why" a character would kill himself.

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