Game censorship around the world

Games are banned in two primary ways. The first is by corporate policy. When a company refuses to sell or distribute an unrated game, it is effectively censoring the game, but they can’t be entirely lampooned for attempting to maintain a positive image. Nintendo has every right to prevent “Sextrobes: Pornigins” from being released on Wii.

The second way games are banned involves direct or indirect interference from governments, and this is what makes us rage. In certain countries, state-imposed censorship is undisputedly the norm, and in others it’s bordering. We’re focusing primarily on this type of censorship, the kind that furrows our freedom-of-expression-loving eyebrows, as we embark on a delightful tour of creative oppression around the world.

The United Kingdom

PEGI (Pan European Game Information) is fair enough with its ratings, and UK authorities do not ban games as a policy. The most recent controversy involved Manhunt 2, though Rockstar’s murder-fest caused a stir everywhere. The British Board of Film Classification rejected the game, and its sale became illegal. David Cooke, director of the BBFC, commented, “There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed.” But with some fairly significant edits (which were also required in the US and elsewhere), the game was eventually released in the UK. The only other controversy in recent memory involved Carmageddon. In order to be released, the game’s hapless pedestrians were replaced with robots, but after an appeal the game was released with its originally intended bloodiness intact.

Above: Carmageddon’s mess of bloody pixels was initially too much in the UK 

The United States of America

Like the UK, the US has no significant “ban list” for games. Most game censorship in the US is self-censorship by companies which desire positive public perception. For example, when Manhunt 2 received an Adults Only rating, it was not legally banned from sale in the US, but neither Sony nor Nintendo would allow it to be published, and GameStop wouldn’t have carried it as policy.

Above: Family fun on Wii! 

Likewise, many games out of Japan, especially during the NES and SNES eras, were stripped of blood and nudity to appeal to what was perceived as a more conservative American audience.

Above: “Oh god, a puddle of blood!  Those sensitive pacifists in America won’t have this! What’s that? They were the ones who dropped the…? Oh, right. Look, the guys at NOA say to take it out.” 

Citizens of the US do have to worry about overzealous, self-righteous “family values” groups who treat media as if it’s a disease to be cured, and seek to strip responsibility away from consumers and legislate babysitting. The Mass Effect “Sexbox scandal” is indicative of the kind of ignorant bullshit these pricks are capable of pulling – vilifying a game because it has a tasteful sex scene which would have barely pushed a film from PG-13 to R.

Above: Oh the horror! Kids who shouldn’t even be playing this game might start to think that sex between consenting adults is natural! And one of them is blue! Interracial sex even! 


Games are rarely censored in Japan, with the exception of some pornographic censorship, which relates more to other laws than it does videogames. The Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO) rates most games in Japan, and tends to hand out games lower (less mature) ratings than Western ratings boards. The Ethics Organization of Computer Software (EOCS) also rates games in Japan, with a focus on PC games of a sexy, sexy nature.

Above: Ah, good old Artificial Girl 2... classic 


  • reaperman22 - October 10, 2009 11:03 a.m.

    basicly every gamer in australia is pissed at the fact that left for dead 2 is banned, i personally have never played the first 1 and probably would of never played the second 1 either but the fact they banned it has pissed me off.
  • WaggleMyBoomstick - October 7, 2009 4:02 a.m.

    it's not the OFLC's fault since Michael Atkinson on the Board of Attorney's General won't allow them to use a 18+ for games, but other forms of media can use it. Usually the OFLC Refuse Classification, then after the game has had a tiny mod, it gets reclassified 15+: the unintended age group that game was made for (the irony being lost on M.A.). They had no problem with the violence in Fallout 3 and Gears Of War. The funny thing is, on the same day L4D2 got RC, the OFLC passed 2 porn flicks. And you can see tits and say fuck with the australian equivilant of the TV14 rating on free-to-air network TV.
  • Amatarasu - October 5, 2009 1:27 a.m.

    germanys the reason i can't go on a murdurus rampage through little lamp light in fallout 3 hmmm, and i better cross austrailia off my " possible countrys to live in" list new zeland the same way?
  • Trg564 - October 3, 2009 10:47 a.m.

    Australia is so tough that Fallout 3 was almost banned for having Morphine
  • dakotak51 - October 3, 2009 9:16 a.m.

    there was an incident involving GTA IV in new zealand on which a guy protested on removing the "aussie" 15+ rating and asking for it to be reviewed by the new zealand authorities. Thankfully it worked and we know have the full, bloody R18 version!!!!
  • Cepzeu - October 3, 2009 8:44 a.m.

    Ha ha, shame on german people
  • FETALJUICE - October 3, 2009 4:09 a.m.

    Ah yes, the "Sexbox Scandal". Those reporters who came up with that sensationalist bullshit should have been fired. Hilarious though. And Greece? SHAME ON YOU!
  • GRwarrior - October 2, 2009 9:20 p.m.

    I live in Australia, and our rating system is fucked up. They banned Left for Dead 2 for christ's sake
  • bilstar - October 2, 2009 2:01 p.m.

    I remember the Mass Effect thing. Saw a lady on TV, Fox news possibly? And she was just saying stuff that wasn't accurate at all. It was just lies! It was pretty shocking really.
  • Hurricrane - October 2, 2009 12:26 p.m.

    I'm surpirsed you didn't mention how Saudi Arabia banned Pokemon
  • Arukami - October 2, 2009 6:57 a.m.

    Ahhh thgey must'nt cencor those awesome game like AI GAME 2...ahahahah!
  • TheWebSwinger - October 2, 2009 6:05 a.m.

    I love this article. It's a bit "Rah! Rah! U-S-A" for my taste, but it's so well written that I couldn't give two shits.
  • Defiance - October 2, 2009 5:55 a.m.

    Agree with Thoenik. Here in Greece we have lot's of arcades and even more cyber cafes devoted to video games nowadays. This law though was enough to send us into an era were no arcades nor any internet cafes existed.
  • dimomarg - October 2, 2009 5:22 a.m.

    I AM Greek. What is up with us? It's simple. The government is a crapload of crapful idiots...
  • TedDidlio - October 2, 2009 1:32 a.m.

    Extremely good article. All forms of state censorship, excluding censoring state secrets, inciting violence, and public displays of hardcore pornographic material in regards to young children, are abhorrent and should not be tolerated by rational human beings.
  • SHAD0WNINJA - October 2, 2009 12:44 a.m.

    I had never heard of those ones in China about "damaging the nations glory," and disturbing social order." Thank god Hong Kong isn't completely back to china then. Nice article btw.
  • And_ROOS - October 1, 2009 9 p.m.

    Its stupid here in Aus, 1 person from each state (total of 5) make the rules. They all must agree on something to pass. 4 of the 5 support 18+ rating for games. 1, from a backwards hick state full of "Christian morals" refuses to comply but never has good reason for doing so. The issue is, this wont stop online users. I STILL plan on getting L4D2 on PC via Steam, and other people i know are importing it via other sites. So in the end, nothing gets accomplished, this turd gets heat for being a backwards hick, and gamers will keep playing those "naughty games" etc etc
  • noobeater - October 1, 2009 6:33 p.m.

    @jackthemenace grz uv unveiled to the world that your a paedophile also i think the british are generally relaxed about films and games, im happy enough, besides manhunt never interested me. oh and i got gta when i was like 12, my parents didnt mind and they knew i knew i wernt gonna kill anyone
  • jackthemenace - October 1, 2009 4:50 p.m.

    sorry, just had to say that. also, australia should release the 18+ games as 15s. THAT would be fun... i miss australia... good article!
  • jackthemenace - October 1, 2009 4:43 p.m.

    bet no-one here new even though japanese porn has to have everything below the waist censored out, there is no child porn law. suck on THAT US!

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