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The 40 Most Shocking Moments in Gaming History

For as long as there have been video games, there have been video game controversies. Today we’ll look back at 40 of the most shocking moments in video game history, dating back nearly 50 years! 


‘Pong’ sweeps the nation (1975)

The home version of the influential game became a must have item that most people loved, with the exception of a handful of gamers that criticized its frame rate.

‘E.T.’ Atari game crashes and burns (1982)

Not only was this game’s negative reception infamous, with lasting ramifications to the video game industry, but less reported on is the damage the debacle did to E.T.’s career. His planned sitcom was retooled and given to an unknown up-and-comer we all now know as ALF.

Dig Dug outrages parents (1982)

Years before Doom or Grand Theft Auto, groups of parents all over the country banded together to blame this arcade classic for the series of underground tunnels they’d been discovering in their backyards and gardens. Moles and gophers were largely found to be responsible, but the game never escaped its tarnished reputation. 

‘Ms. Pac-Man’ Revealed (1982)

A lot of gamers were furious at the inclusion of a playable female protagonist, and I wish I could tell you a lot of them have calmed down since then. 

Toad busts your balls (1985)

While it may seem a bit primitive by today’s standards, Super Mario Bros. displayed a wonderful cast of characters in addition to groundbreaking gameplay. Gaming’s ultimate shit-stirrer, Toad, makes his debut here, completely breaking your balls about which castle the princess isn’t in, when you get the feeling he could just tell you any old time. Players had never seen anything like it.  

Samus reveals that she’s hot (1986)

Upon beating the original Metroid, players were amazed to discover they’d been playing as a total babe the whole time!

Nintendo employee begins leaking latest rumors and projects to his grade school nephew (1987)

The leak, long thought to be fraudulent, has been blamed by Nintendo for over 1 billion dollars in lost revenue over the years.

Super Mario Bros. 2 lets you fight and defeat God (1988)

The shocking tonal departure from the beloved original was blamed on the fact that the game was actually a reskinned version of a Japanese game called Doki Doki God Slayer.

Power Glove recalled (1990)

Decades before the Wii, Nintendo introduced this wildly popular motion controlled peripheral that let players control games with the movements of their hand. Sadly, a swift backlash ensued once parents discovered that most games used the jerking off motion as a way to pause the action. 

John Madden quits coaching to start making video games (1991)

He somehow still found the time to announce football games, but come on, he was never going to make all three work once he got into programming. 

Mortal Kombat introduces fatalities (1992)

“It came to me one night at a bar when I saw a man pull another guy’s spine out of his body,” said co-creator Ed Boon. 

Nintendo admits to animal testing while developing ‘Star Fox’ (1993)

“We learned a lot of things that definitely helped push gaming forward,” said director Katsuya Eguchi. “But we killed way too many foxes along the way. It’s just inexcusable.”

‘Doom’ inspires waves of copycat chainsaw violence (1993)

The cafeterias and playgrounds of 1993 were an absolute bloodbath thanks to the inclusion of a chainsaw in the wildly popular and influential game.

Sonic announces first pregnancy hiatus (1994)

Following Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic announced that he was taking time off to have his first child. While shocking at the time, Sonic has gone on to successfully parent dozens of children while remaining a popular figure in gaming.

‘Boogerman’ squanders momentum (1994)

Everyone loved Boogerman, and he was poised to be one of the greats alongside Mario and Sonic, until players got to the end of the game and heard his bizarre and controversial political rant, wherein he made clear his wildly hateful views. You blew it, Boogerman. 

‘Street Fighter’ movie makes 14 dollars on opening weekend (1994)

Adjusted for inflation those 14 dollars equate to nearly 30 bucks today, putting Street Fighter’s debut near the recent opening of DC’s Blue Beetle.

Resident Evil proves that video games can have bad voice acting too (1996)

A landmark achievement in getting games to be considered as seriously as film or television.

PaRappa the Rappa briefly unites rap world (1997)

While the East Coast/West Coast hip hop conflict was fully raging, all parties involved held a peaceful summit and agreed that the rapping dog had to go.

‘Gran Turismo’ is a runaway success (1997)

For years, critics of the video game industry said they’d never have the cultural influence to affect the world. That was obviously before the Gearbox Ratio phenomenon of 1997, inspired by this wildly popular street racing simulator.

‘Diablo’ upsets parents (1997 – present)

The Diablo franchise has historically upset parents and religious groups with the release of every major installment, largely due to its shockingly realistic portrayal of the southwestern United States. 

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