Video games have always been a point of contention for parents. Common questions are, “Is this one too violent? Is this one too suggestive?” There are other issues which parents consider, but they rarely think of themes such as animal cruelty, targets of violence, and so forth. This means that some of the games which may have more questionable content may go unnoticed. The controversy that these games produce is what drives their sales, and incidentally a lot of those games which are controversial are not particularly good. Thankfully, most of the games are not quite as bad and vulgar as some of the ones on this list.
Sometimes, it isn’t entirely about the adult themes which a number of kids games have that make them inappropriate, sometimes it is just the pure rage that they induce. If a child ever runs into something like this and the adult agrees with them, you know that there is something wrong with the game’s design. Now that we’re done with the pleasantries, have a look at what are 15 of the most inappropriate games for or targeted to kids.
15 Mike Tyson's Punch-Out
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! is one of those games which seem perfectly okay at first, but your opinion of them will change quickly. The game is pretty standard in terms of gameplay, but where it leaves its mark is in its racist caricatures. One of the most prominent of these is Bald Bull, who is depicted as being a lumbering Victorian Era representation of a black man. It is shocking to see that the developers green-lighted these images. If you thought it was bad enough in the first game, the sequel, Mike Tyson’s Power Punch, was even worse. In this game it didn’t stop at just African-Americans but included characters that resembled the stereotypical Mongol. Whatever the case, this game was one of the worst nightmares for parents concerned with how their kids see the world.
Scribblenauts is one of the most unique puzzle solving games on the market. With the ability to type out exactly what you want, the possibilities are infinite! The unfortunate side effect of this is that the infinite possibilities include some rather unpleasant features. As was pointed out to me by a friend, there is even the ability to conjure a “suicide house” into being. Yes, that’s right, a suicide house, it isn’t quite what you’re thinking because it is a house which tries to kill itself. That is just one of the many examples of what you can do. Considering how many adjective and noun combinations there are in the English language alone, there seems to be endless possibilities for the more questionable solutions to whatever problem you have.
Spore is one of the most innovative games out there, and it is fun for all ages. Out of all the games on this list, this is only the second most family friendly. Spore’s claim to fame is that it allowed the player to create creatures of their own design and ruthlessly genocide their way across the galaxy until they conquered all 42,000 star systems or got bored. Its inappropriateness for kids stems largely from its encouragement for genocide, but also its incorrect approach to evolutionary science. At one time, Spore was considered as a teaching aide for teaching evolution to kids. That consideration caused moderate controversy among the scientific community who reviewed it, finding that it is fun but totally unreliable and useless as an educational tool. We're still hoping for that sequel.
Forgive your humble narrator, but we have got to get a little prudish for a moment. Bomberman is a video game series that is fun and brings all sorts of nostalgic feelings to its players. We absolutely love our favorite little possible terrorist. The cartoonish levels of explosive violence are great, but they teach kids the wrong message. Sure we like to imagine ourselves playing around with a near limitless amount of ordinance, but it is all fun and games until someone loses an eye, or foot, or worse. The Bomberman series is by no means a terrible one, in fact many wish it was published in more regular intervals, but you know what they say, “if you love something, you’re willing to suffer for it.”
11 My Little Baby 3D
First of all, this is one is one of the creepiest games out there and definitely the creepiest on this list. There is nothing that is really right about this, the babies look like twisted abominations from the Twilight Zone. When it was marketed, the developers claimed that you would be able to care for your little bundle of joy with the cutest graphics available to handheld devices; spoiler, they lied. This game is “parent-life lite,” and pretty much everything about it is inappropriate. The game is marketed towards kids and that’s all fine and everything, but the game is a bit too complex for children. The biggest problem with this game is that it is not finished, that the team just simply got bored and gave up on it.
10 Disneyland Adventures
Disneyland Adventures has a special place in gaming history. In short, this game is pretty much what it would look like if a wasp was turned into a video game after being allowed to sting children and then forcing them to play the game until they scream in pure agony. Yes, that is a mouthful but it is the most apt description possible. After watching several let’s plays of this Disney-backed abomination, it is a wonder that it is still available for purchase. First of all the game’s hand gestures often times seem rather adult for a children’s game on top of an already frustrating set of mechanics. The game is more likely to cause the player to rage quit after just a few minutes; we all know that hypertension is not good for kids, or adults for that matter.
Pikmin might be the cutest real time strategy game ever made. Its cuteness is matched by how much it will totally scar any child, or adult for that matter, who plays it. The game teaches you a lot about the circle of life; it’s totally wonderful. The most apt description of this game is a quote from Game of Thrones, “the night is dark and full of terrors;” that is because predators stalk the night on the planet you’re stranded on. These predators will take and obliterate any Pikmin which are outside of the shelter after night falls, and you will feel a great sadness for each one. No other kids' game makes the loss of life feel so visceral. Although it is difficult to distinguish between the individual Pikmin, you mourn each and every one of their passing.
So, you might be surprised to see Minecraft on this list, but it is one of the least family friendly games out there. There are a number of reasons for this so we’ll hit the 80 ton radioactive gorilla in the room. One of the most overlooked features of Minecraft is that you can set animals on fire with zero repercussions. Sure, you kill zombies and skeletons with swords and bows, but animals are living breathing creatures which definitely feel fear and pain. This little aspect of the game shows some of the more sociopathic tendencies in people and may not be the best idea for a kids' game. The game was responsible for making the free-roam crafting genre popular, but it really should have a more mature rating than it does.
Pokémon is basically a poaching and animal fighting simulator and we love it all the same. Don’t get me wrong, the games are great and have an important place in our global culture, but there are some pretty adult themes that are fundamental to the franchise. For those of us who have grown up with the series, we are well prepared to perform whatever mental gymnastics are necessary to explain why there is no animal cruelty committed on your part. A close friend once said that they justify keeping those monsters in your pocket by saying the Pokéballs are a lot more roomy than they look; no matter how true this is, it just proves the point. The game makes animal cruelty look normal and acceptable, but it doesn’t matter if they’re cute, right?
6 Gang Beasts
Gang Beasts is one of those highly polarizing games which people can’t decide if they absolutely love it, or hate it. This game is completely bonkers in every single way, the cartoonish visuals and violence only add to that. Now, that all sounds fine and dandy for kids, doesn’t it? Well, we have to remember that another appropriate name for Gang Beasts would be Drunken Bar Fight Simulator. Although the game does not encourage the consumption of alcohol directly, it does paint getting into an inebriated brawl as being something fun to do; it can easily be guaranteed that it isn’t. The game is fun, in fact I would go so far as to say that I love it, but it is up to the parents to determine what is and is not appropriate for their kids.
5 Ethnic Cleansing/White Law
Ethnic Cleansing is a game which shall live on in infamy. Obviously, this is the most mature game on the list and is completely and totally abhorrent. This game is definitely not appropriate for its quite obvious content, so why is it on here? Well, that’s simple: it was marketed to kids and young teenagers as a way to entice them into White Nationalism and White Supremacy. It is hard to believe that they even made a sequel, White Law, thanks to how awful it is. There are a lot of problems with this. In fact these games aren’t even appropriate for adults, thanks to what they glorify and encourage; it can’t even be argued that they don’t do that if you consider that their developer and publisher is unabashedly in support of those two ideologies. It makes no sense how anyone could find something so horrible fun to play.
4 Fat Princess
The name says it all, Fat Princess is a game which prides itself on body shaming women and, well, people just buy it up. From what we’ve learned over the last couple of decades, body image issues are major problems for youth. The image that this game has, particularly for young women, is that they absolutely must watch their weight or else they become some sort of monstrous blob. The unhealthy attitudes toward body image that Fat Princess presents are not only damaging because they grotesque, but that they also try to make fat people into a comical sideshow. Thanks to these problematic features, the game should not be marketed as a kids' game. The game shows the audience a side of misogyny which is rarely thought about much.
3 Super Mario
Now that that’s over, let’s get back on the animal cruelty train with Super Mario. The game is the most iconic game in the world, having gone through dozens of incarnations since its inception in 1985, but its recurring theme of killing animals just being animals makes it somewhat questionable for kids. The game’s mechanics, graphics, and the like are not in question and in general it is a good and wholesome game. There are enemies and obstacles which are not animal-based in the game, but those which are generally aren’t actively trying to kill you. Those animals largely just move back and forth at their own leisure without much care for Mario. This may be hypocritical, but it is a good kids' game, just maybe for older children thanks to the treatment of animals.
Bully is one of the most unique action-adventure games out there and it caused quite the stir with its themes. This game feels more like a roleplaying game than action-adventure, too. The themes which caused this largely center on the wanton violence and many other themes which conservative groups generally object to in media. What makes this game so inappropriate for the majority of kids, even those for whom it is made, is that you are the bully. The base plot has you taking control of the troubled Jimmy Hopkins who has to beat and subdue the various cliques of the school to his iron will; of course this is done to make a paradise in Bullworth. A cool little fact about the game is that it takes place within the same universe as the Grand Theft Auto series.
1 The Sims
The Sims has always been a rather adult series of games, but they were not as blatantly vulgar as they are now; however, that is irrelevant to this article. The Sims brings out the most sadistic side of our being, mostly thanks to the free and far ranging homicidal shenanigans you can get into. Since you are able to burn Sims alive, starve them to death, drown them, deprive them of sleep, or what have you, there is a level of expectation to get well acquainted with death. Whenever you go to kill one of your Sims, they will act in an extremely exaggerated manner so to add comedy to their untimely demise. There are some other things which make the series adult, mostly themes of a sexual nature, but the games remain a staple for many computers across the globe.