Despite the modern trend towards fully fleshed out stories and ultra-realistic gameplay experience, modern video games remains in the Dark Ages when it comes to issues of equality and diversity, and they remain capable of huge controversy and offence through their content. That may well change now thanks to the new legislation relating to game ratings, but games are still completely capable of being utterly offensive – as long as controversy sells, developers will continue to push the limits of what they can get away with, leading to examples of sexism, racism and downright depraved material.

Unfortunately, homophobia too remains a strong accusation against the gaming community, and while developers tend to avoid that sort of controversy in general, the lack of openly-gay characters in mass market releases suggests a lack of confidence in releasing such material. That might have something to do with the perceived reaction of the fans, who reacted so infamously to the very suggestion that Mass Effect 3 might include the option of same sex relationships, and some of whom react in the following heinous way to the mere presence of a gay gamer on their network…

For every positive step, it seems the gaming world isn’t ready for that sort of politicised enlightenment. BioWare may have done it with Mass Effect 3, and Dragon Age 2, but as long as the market response is as closed-minded as it was when the male-male relationships were announced for Mass Effect 3, they are unlikely to push the envelope much in fear of turning away fans and their money.

It might be gaming’s dirty little secret, but there are certainly still offensive moments included in games, and this list isn’t merely a collection of out-dated titles. That’s why opponents of gaming have ammunition to paint on their protest boards, and why the media has the opportunity to explode with outrage at the latest violent game – as long as the extremes exist, they reflect every “bad” element of the industry back on itself.

So, let’s look at the most offensive moments from video gaming history…

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This article was first posted on October 30, 2012