Censorship in video games
Censorship issues regarding video games tend to be based on concerns that minors will be harmed by exposure to video games with violent speech and images. Many parents and community watchdogs fear that children who frequent the make-believe world of video games will replicate the games’ violence in the real world.
Various rating associations around the world, usually an independent organization, has created the rating system. The ratings are intended to give consumers information about content and degree of maturity of intended users. However, state and local legislators have seized on these ratings to propose restricting sales of some games to minors.
Examples of Censorship in Gaming
The Australian Classification Board (ACB or CB) is an Australian Government statutory body responsible for the classification and censorship of films, video games and publications for exhibition, sale or hire in Australia. The ACB does not directly censor material by ordering cuts or changes. However, it is able to effectively censor media by refusing classification (RC for short) and making the media illegal for hire, exhibition and importation to Australia.
Until 2013, there was no adult age rating for computer games to be released in Australia, resulting in more games being banned.
- The Grand Theft Auto series has caused controversy in Australia. In 2002, Grand Theft Auto III was withdrawn from sale for allowing players to have sexual intercourse with virtual prostitutes; the game was later reinstated when this action was removed. Specifically, the player could solicit intercourse from a virtual prostitute, and then kill her. The ability to solicit sex from prostitutes in the game was the action that was removed, but the player could still violently murder them. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was also pre-censored for the same reasons. Though, in 2010 Vice City was classified uncut again receiving a MA15+.
- In 2015, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number was refused classification due to the game contained a scene in which a man wearing a pig mask rapes a woman on the set of a porn movie, and due to this, the game was banned in Australia. It was later revealed, that the rape scene was actually fake, being a part of a movie in game's universe, named Midnight Animal. The scene even stops right before the most explicit parts. Unfortunately, it didn't help and the game was "Refused Classification" by ACB, preventing the game from being legally sold there.
Main article: Anti-video game policies in China
Perhaps the most infamous censorship policies is the one enforced by the Communist Party of China which can be traced back into the year 2000 for various reasons. Mainly to "protecting the youth from negative influence" (namely video game addiction) as well as due to political reasons.
Since the release of Wolfenstein 3D, German authorities has employed a notoriously strict censorship on games, the Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien (BJM) (Federal Review Board for Media Harmful to Minors) is responsible for censorship on several games regarded "not suitable for minors" as well as removing any reference regarding the Nazis and the pro-Communists (due to Article 86a, which prohibits the display of such symbols on media unless for educational purposes). These policies received strong criticism from several game publishers and German players, in which it will be eventually toned down in 2010. In 2017, the BJM has announced that they will allowed various media featured Nazi symbol to be published as long as it was published in an art form and not in political context.
- Wolfenstein 3D was one of the earliest games to be banned by German censorship, namely due to its gory nature and the game was set in a Nazi-controlled region. This will lead into the notorious SNES port of the game with censorship applied.
- Following the ban of Wolfenstein 3D, several games which featured World War 2-era Germany were released with several Nazi imagery removed or replaced to be able to be published in Germany, the most common practice of this self-censorship is by replacing Swastika with Iron Cross, or simply swapped the flag from the NSDAP flag into the German Empire flag.
- Other than the ban on Nazi-related imagery, Germany has employed a strict censorship on several gory games, which then forced the developers to remove blood and gore from the game. The most notorious cases being the Left 4 Dead 2 censorship controversy, in which the BJM forced Valve to remove all gibs from the game to be able to publish it on the German market. However, Valve later released a DLC that restored all the gibs and violence features which is missing from Germany version after BJM allowed it on Jan 29, 2021. 
Nintendo of America's policies of strict video game "censorship" have become one of the infamous tactics during 80 - 90s period. While often overlooked back in the day, the rise of ROMs and uncensored Game Boy Advance ports, have exposed many gamers to numerous examples of Nintendo censorship in practice.
References to smoking or sex may have been removed from the Japanese version of a game prior to its release in the United States, while other games with potentially offensive content may simply have not been released at all. Although Nintendo's censorship practices have often been condemned as inconsistent, or at worst hypocritical, they actually stem from a document that outlines the rules in explicit detail.
- The Super Nintendo port of Wolfenstein 3D. In this port, all blood and gore and Nazi symbolism are removed, guard dogs are replaced by mutant rats and Adolf Hitler has been renamed "Staatmeister". As such, this port is considered by many Wolfenstein fans to be the worst version of the game.
- The Super Nintendo port of Mortal Kombat, all blood in this version is replaced by "sweat" and the fatalities became less violent "finishing moves". This heavily damaged the reputation of the Super Nintendo, as well as decreasing its sales incredibly, in contrast to the superior Sega Genesis port. However its reputation grew back with the uncensored sequel.
- The Super Nintendo port of the original Wing Commander. In this version, the bar area of the game was renamed the lounge and all references of alcohol were replaced by references to juice. Hunter's cigar was also removed and so was the minor swearing. However, a few changes were also made that made no sense such as swapping the colors of the red and blue energy bolts for the laser and neutron blasters to blue and red.
- In the Japanese version of Super Mario Kart, the victory animations of Bowser and Princess Peach's animations depict them drinking champagne. Because Nintendo of America's censorship policies didn't allow depictions of drinking alcohol in games, these animations were changed in the international versions of the game.
- In the Japanese version of Fire Emblem Fates there is a minigame where you pet characters as well as a quest where you turn a gay character straight. The former was removed due to being seen as inappropriate while the latter was removed as it was seen offensive.
- The Dragon Quest games (Dragon Quest, Dragon Quest II, Dragon Quest III and Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen) when they came to the United States as Dragon Warrior were censored from their Japanese releases to comply with Nintendo of America's policies in the 1980s and 1990s. Religious symbols, references to alcohol, swearing, and innuendos were removed, but references to death were inconsistently avoided.
- The Final Fantasy games that came out in North America (Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI) also had references to death, swearing, alcohol references, partial nudity censored to comply with Nintendo of America censors. Curiously, Final Fantasy VII, the first game on the PlayStation, was mostly uncensored.
- The English release of Naruto: Clash of Ninja 2 for the GameCube altered several lines of dialogue that are found in the anime for younger audiences. An example is that any occurence of words like "kill" or "death" being replaced with "destroy" or "defeat". In the game, just like the English version of the anime, Neji's curse seal was changed to an X because the symbol in the Japanese version was a manji, which resembles a swastika.
Main article: Sony's censorship policy on PlayStation
In 2016, Sony Interactive Entertainment moved their headquarters to San Mateo, California, and started censoring games (particularly anime games with fanservice in them) on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, which defeats the purpose of rating systems.
Mobile game Censorship
Starting in around 2020, it has become a trend for mobile game developers to censor material, especially if it's one of those games where the global servers get "shafted" (a greedy practice where versions outside of the native region get inferior treatment such as increased costs/etc). While the reasons for this trend or whoever started this remain unknown, it had risen in 2020 and onward when the gacha gaming community became more aware of greedy practices such as VIP benefits and shady reputations. While it reportedly was limited to Chinese servers due to regulations on servicing mobile games there, this trend eventually bled over to other countries, most notably global versions.
It should be noted that it's common for mobile games to do some form of censorship especially in the form of ads, but they often times appear unchanged in the actual game.
- One of the most infamous examples of this practice gaining backlash was when Guardian Tales announced censorship of Beach Sohee and Lilith's breast cleavage. When Korean players found out about this, they review-bombed the game, causing Kong Studios, the developer and Kakaogames to apologize and back down on the changes, with Lilith's banner being replaced with Gabriel.
- World Flipper, when the Global and Korean version was published by Kakaogames, it was programmed in such a manner where the global version outside of Korea (which shared the same app/versions) got the censorship treatment. It was also discovered that players ended up in various regions due to the server placement reportedly being tied to their SIM cards and not IP addresses (though it wasn't confirmed). This is an example of where global versions get shafted via censorship. The launch disaster was mainly due to the removal of rerolling, which required players to reinstall the game just to reroll, which caused servers to crash on launch.
- Genshin Impact gave Amber, Jean, Mona, and Rosaria different outfits in the Chinese version, which China players did not approve of it. They then put up the altered outfits on the other servers for sale. The compensation Chinese players got were 1200 gems, about 3/4 of 10 pulls.