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Sex, violence, and video games: Reconciling the irreconcilable. By Mitch Krpata.
Custer’s Revenge (1982)
In this historically dubious game for the Atari 2600, the player controls a visibly aroused General George Custer as he attempts to fornicate with a bound Native American woman. It takes something special to simultaneously offend women’s groups, Native Americans, and, well, anybody with a conscience, but Custer’s Revenge pulled it off. Rightly spurned at the time of its release, the game today is a collector’s item.

Mortal Kombat (1992)
When it was introduced to arcades, Mortal Kombat drew notice for its realistic graphics, which used digitized footage of real actors. But its true notoriety sprang from its “Fatalities” — finishing moves in which the victor actually murdered his opponent. Especially noteworthy: the brawler Kano pulling a still-beating heart from his foe’s chest, and the ninja Sub-Zero plucking off his opponent’s head, spinal cord attached. Due to the controversy, the Super Nintendo version of the game removed the more graphic Fatalities, while the Sega Genesis version required a cheat code to activate them.

Night Trap (1992)
No release illustrates the divide between gamers and social critics better than Night Trap. The Sega CD–system game was nothing more than a Z-grade interactive horror movie in which scantily clad co-eds were beset by vampires. Senators Joe Lieberman and Herb Kohl denounced the game in congressional hearings, apparently unaware that the goal was to save the girls, not kill them.

Postal (1997)
If you’re going to make a game about a character going on a mindless killing spree, you could at least bother making it fun to play. Postal was poorly conceived and horribly executed, but all the attention it drew made it a commercial success. For shame. Worse still: the movie adaptation, directed by mega-hack Uwe Boll, is scheduled for a May 23 release.

Super Columbine Massacre RPG! (2005)
Super Columbine Massacre put players in the shoes of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, recounting their killing spree via a Final Fantasy–like interface. Created by Emerson College graduate Danny Ledonne on a computer program called RPG Maker, the game first gained widespread attention when it was accepted, and then removed, from the “Guerilla Games Competition” at the Slamdance Film Festival. Several other developers withdrew their own games from the competition in protest.

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Not-so-great moments in video game controversy
To me, there is a big difference between games that are consciously edgy or controversial, such as Postal or Super Columbine Massacre, and games are intended as nothing but exploitive pornography, such as Custer's Revenge. One difference is that Postal was widely distributed in mainstream markets, and Super Columbine Massacre was designed to make a statement and promote discussion, while Custer's Revenge was limited-released as pure smut and only sold at porn shops. Saying that Mortal Kombat was a "not-so-great moment" in video game controversy is sort of like saying Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf was a not-so-great moment in film controversy. That's not quite right, I don’t think. Some may feel the way the ESRB or the MPAA has developed over the years in a "not-so-great" way, but that doesn't change the fact that Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf was a great movie for its time, and Mortal Kombat was a great game for its time.
By TJDeci on 04/24/2008 at 1:17:47

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