Nowhere is this more evident, perhaps, than in the world of videogaming. Over the years there have been plenty of games boycotted and whined about for somewhat legitimate reasons like excessive and wanton sexuality and running really fast with really really sharp scissors. But these aren't those games. These are games that were boycotted and bitched about for the dumbest, goofiest reasons anyone could imagine.
11) Mortal Kombat
Before we all got desensitized to games that allowed us to curb stomp suckers and torch abortion clinics with tampon bombs, the depiction of violence and murder in Midway's was a huge, huge deal. In '92, there was no ratings system for games, and actually, this was the game that caused Congress hearings that ultimately yielded the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Even though Ed Boon later said he thought Mortal Kombat's outraged critics had a point -- "I wouldn't want my 10-year-old playing a game like that" -- still, it was a big nothing. Violence in games was nothing new; pretty much every other arcade game was about shooting as many people in the face as you could. What people should've been offended by was the excessive use of palette swapping to make "new" characters.
The very obviously kid-friendly DS game lets players punch in any word they can imagine and it'll pop up on the system's pair of screens. But, someone, somewhere, probably a racist player, wanted to see what'd happen if they typed in "sambo." It's the only slur in the 2009 game that produces anything, and that word makes what appears to be a watermelon. Some game blogs picked up on it -- Fox News didn't touch it -- and publisher Warner Bros. responded that "the word was included as a reference to a Spanish term for a fig leafed gourd." Leave it to all those uneducated racist DS owners not to know the difference between a gourd and a watermelon, and then cause a stink about it. Also, there's a difference between a digital fruit and Joel Chandler Harris' Uncle Remus stories. Right?
9) Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
The PlayStation 3 puzzle-platformer so saccharine it might as well have been coded with cotton candy and Skittles, the game was pre-emptively delayed just before its release but after it was in retail stores because the background music in the Swinging Safari level had "two expressions that can be found in the Qur'an." The offending phrases were, reportedly, "all that is on earth will perish" and "every soul shall have the taste of death." Bleak, sure, but they're not exactly "kill the infidels"or anything -- plus the song, sung by a devout Muslim, had been freely available on iTunes since 2006. Why background music is so much more offensive than say killing hookers in GTA is anyone's guess.
7) Left Behind: Eternal Forces
Yup, even goody-goody Christian video games can offend milquetoast players. This 2006 RTS, based on the evangelical novels, allowed folks to take control of the Tribulation Force, who must convert neutral and government-allied civilians -- sometimes using lethal force. Some reviewers who clearly have never heard of The Crusades found it upsetting that killing those who don't believe in Christianity was even an option. Activist and disbarred attorney Jack Thompson, who is often outspoken against videogames, told the Washington Post that "the game is about killing people for their lack of faith in Jesus... The Gospel is not about killing people in the name of the Lord, and Jesus made that very clear." (The game's developer made fruitless legal threats against sites posting "misleading" reviews touching on this.) How about you crack a couple of history books, here, gumshoe, because one man's devout is another's terrorist. And that's nothing new at all.