Video Games Where Players Kill Innocents

This timeline is meant to document notable and obscure video games that give the player the ability to kill innocents and analyze why and how the feature is implemented throughout the years.

The ability to kill innocents in video games is closely tied to the media's reaction to it. In the early days of video games, Death Race (1976) seems to be the first case of the media losing it over a game of this kind. The first game in this category released in 1997, Carmageddon, seems to be influenced by Death Race. That same year both the famous Grand Theft Auto series and the Postal series began - with controversy, as expected. Whereas GTA focused on violent lawlessness for money, Postal was named after the phenomenon of "going postal" (meaning workplace violence) which had become a thing as early back as 1986. Coincidentally, the controversial arcade game about torture, Chiller, came out 1986. The 2000s saw a lot of GTA games, as well as the sequel to Postal. Indie games started growing in number as technology became cheaper and more easily available to the public. In the years following the September 11, 2001 attacks, indie games emerged that were hateful towards Muslims and terrorism, and industry games received backlash if they had anti-government themes. At the same time, some games tried dealing with the nation’s trauma with humor. The black comedy Postal 2 pokes fun at the media, politics, and American stereotypes and includes Islamist terrorists as one of several enemy groups in the game. ;xNLx;In 2005, we see possibly the first example of a game based on a school shooting in which the player takes the role of the perpetrator. Super Columbine Massacre RPG! was based on the 1999 Columbine High School shooting that shook the world, and this game called to question what is okay to depict in video games in the name of art. The infamous JFK Reloaded, in which you play the shooter who takes John F. Kennedy’s life, was released only a year prior and similarly brought up this ethical question. From 2006 to 2008, as the GTA series was reaching new heights in realism and violence, indie game developers continued developing offensive games to get attention. In GTA IV, however, flyable planes were missing from the game, and many speculated that this was because the game map resembled NYC too closely. This shows that despite violent games being popular, there was still a need for sensitivity in big-name games following the 9/11 attacks. Ironically, in 2009 there was a massive controversy involving the “No Russian” level in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. In this level, the player assumes the role of an undercover CIA agent who must participate in a mass shooting in a Moscow airport to gain the trust of the villain. However, his plan is to blame the Americans for the shooting to start a war, so the shooters speak “no Russian” and frame the CIA agent by killing him and leaving his body at the scene since, unbeknownst to the player character, the shooters had already discovered the spy. The player doesn’t have to shoot civilians, and the level was made optional due to the backlash and removed entirely from the Russian version of the game.;xNLx;Into the 2010s, indie games centered around being the perpetrator in violent acts towards innocents increase in volume around notable mass shootings reported in the media. By this point, reporting on mass shootings had hit such a point where the most recent GTA game greatly reduced the number of locations where the player can attack civilians. In the previous two main titles in the series the player could walk into and attack strip clubs, theatres, casinos, restaurants, and more, but these locations resembled the locations of many awful real-life shootings that occurred later in the decade and were scrapped from the 2013 title. AAA games cannot afford to be offensive to the public or publishers lose money. Indie games, on the other hand, happily ride the tail of controversy to get noticed and make sales from the media frenzy. However, because it’s such a sensitive topic, this strategy sometimes backfires on the developer and costs them everything. For this reason, many indie developers of these types of games try to remain anonymous. ;xNLx;In conclusion, from my research to create this timeline of video games where players kill innocents I have determined that throughout the years AAA developers have tried to avoid the topic of mass murder in video games while indie developers have done the complete opposite. Whether it’s for creative expression or to shamelessly profit off of the controversy, indie developers won’t be stopping.

1976-04-01 00:00:00

Death Race (1976) Released

This arcade game was controversial because the objective is to kill humanoid creatures called gremlins with your vehicle. The dead are replaced with cross tombstones.

1986-01-01 00:00:00

Chiller (1986) Released

This arcade game sold poorly because the player must torture and kill restrained innocents in a dungeon setting. Players are rewarded for faster, gorier deaths.

1997-06-13 00:00:00

Carmageddon (1997) Released

In this racing game, originally released on MS-DOS, levels can be completed by either winning, wrecking all other players, or killing all pedestrians and animals.

1997-10-21 00:00:00

Grand Theft Auto (1997) Released

The first in the iconic GTA series, this top-down game was controversial because of the player character's lawlessness and violence towards law enforcement and pedestrians.

1997-11-14 00:00:00

Postal (1997) Released

In this isometric shooter named after the phenomenon of "going postal", you play a psychotic man killing law enforcement and civilians as you travel the country.

1998-11-30 00:00:00

Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now Released

This is the second in the Carmageddon series and still features killing pedestrians and animals for points. This game is only on Windows and Mac.

1999-10-22 00:00:00

Grand Theft Auto 2 Released

This is the second installment in the GTA series. The features are much more sophisticated, but the core gameplay and viewpoint are still the same.

2000-09-01 00:00:00

Carmageddon TDR 2000 Released

In this third installment of the Carmageddon series on Windows, the gameplay is still the same with brutal killing of pedestrians including dismemberment and immolation.

2001-10-22 00:00:00

Grand Theft Auto III Released

In this critically acclaimed third installment of GTA, the player can navigate an open world in 3D, steal vehicles, and kill law enforcement and pedestrians.

2002-01-21 00:00:00

Ethnic Cleansing (2002) Released

This first-person shooter was created with racist motivations by the white supremacist organization National Alliance. In it, you kill African-Americans, Mexicans, and Jews in NYC.

2002-02-12 00:00:00

State of Emergency (2002) Released

In this third-person 3D game, the player joins a terrorist faction in the USA and engages in gun combat with law enforcement in the city.

2002-04-17 00:00:00

Kaboom: The Suicide Bombing Game Released

In this free browser game by fabulous999, the goal is to kill and maim as many men, women, and children possible in a suicide bombing.

2002-10-29 00:00:00

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Released

This GTA game, reminiscent of 1980s Miami, had considerable improvements from the last installment. At the same time, the violence depicted became even more graphic.

2003-04-13 00:00:00

Postal 2 Released

This second installment in the Postal series is a black comedy that is intentionally gross and controversial. One level includes references to the Waco Siege.

2004-10-26 00:00:00

Grand Theft Auto Advance Released

This GTA game goes back to its top-down roots for the Game Boy Advance. It did worse because of reduced quality due to hardware limitations.

2004-10-26 00:00:00

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Released

This GTA game improves further on the formula, and its plot is heavily based on real-life events from 1980s Los Angeles including gangs, corruption, and riots.

2004-11-22 00:00:00

JFK Reloaded Released

This game by Kirk Ewing was designed to be a "historical simulation" of 35th US President John F. Kennedy's assassination where you play the killer.

2005-04-20 00:00:00

Super Columbine Massacre RPG! Released

This controversial free role-playing Windows game by Danny Ledonne recreates the 1999 Columbine High School shooting with players in the role of the two gunmen.

2005-10-24 00:00:00

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories Released

This GTA installment was first developed for the PSP and then ported over to the PS2 and phones. There aren't too many improvements in this.

2005-11-09 00:00:00

Gun (2005) Released

This Western-themed action-adventure game was met with controversy because of its "derogatory, harmful, and inaccurate depictions of American Indians" and the option to kill them.

2006-10-31 00:00:00

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories Released

This GTA installment was first developed for the PSP and then ported over to the PS2 and phones. There aren't too many improvements in this.

2007-05-12 00:00:00

V-Tech Rampage Released

This flash browser game by Ryan Lambourn recreates the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. Unlike SCMRPG!, this game was created to be offensive without redeeming value.

2008-01-01 00:00:00

Muslim Massacre: The Game of Modern Religious Genocide Released

In this top-down shoot 'em up Windows game by Eric 'Sigvatr' Vaughn, the goal is to kill Muslims. The game was marketed intentionally for controversy.

2008-04-29 00:00:00

Grand Theft Auto IV Released

This game received universal critical acclaim and improved since San Andreas. There's no planes possibly because of 9/11 and how the map resembles NYC.

2009-03-17 00:00:00

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars Released

This game was originally released for Nintendo DS. The camera is angled down but fully rotatable. Escaping the cops requires killing them in this game.

2009-11-10 00:00:00

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Released

Despite being a critically acclaimed first-person shooter game, the skippable "No Russian" level has the player participate in an airport terror attack in Moscow, Russia.

2010-06-29 00:00:00

APB: All Points Bulletin (now APB: Reloaded) Released

This game is a now free-to-play open world MMO where players choose to be either vigilantes or criminals in a city. Players can kill pedestrians.

2011-03-19 00:00:00

School Shooter: North American Tour 2012 Removed from ModDB

This Half Life 2 mod by Checkerboard Studios was pulled from for obvious reasons. Allegedly, this game was found on the Sandy Hook shooter's computer.

2011-11-23 00:00:00

Postal III Released

Unlike previous Postal games, a Russian team helped develop this one. This game was also fraught with glitches and poorly written according to series fans.

2013-09-17 00:00:00

Grand Theft Auto V Released

The most realistic game in the series has fewer locations where players can be violent. For example, you cannot enter restaurants or shoot inside strip clubs.

2013-11-17 00:00:00

The Slaying of Sandy Hook Released

Created by Ryan Lambourn, this game was made to support gun control but was removed from by moderators because of the Sandy Hook Promise.

2014-04-04 00:00:00

Yandere Simulator Development Made Public

Yandere Simulator is a popular stealth action game currently in development. You play a high school girl who brutally kills rivals for her love interest.

2015-04-17 00:00:00

Postal 2: Paradise Lost Released

This is a whole new game released in response to the poor reception of Postal III. The gameplay is the same as in Postal 2.

2015-05-21 00:00:00

Carmageddon: Reincarnation Released

This game was funded through Kickstarter and raised over $400,000. It's a lot like the first game with much better graphics, meaning there's gratuitous slaughter.

2015-06-01 00:00:00

Hatred (2015) Released

This isometric shoot 'em up by Destructive Creations where you play a mass murderer is so over the top it almost reaches parody levels.

2015-12-01 00:00:00

Survival Island 3: Australia Story Released

This banned mobile game by Kristina Fedenkova was controversial for its racist representation of and blatant violence against Australian Aboriginals. It was removed after two months.

2016-05-20 00:00:00

Postal Redux Released

This is an Unreal Engine remake of the original 1997 Postal game. This game has additional content, multiple gameplay modes, and updated graphics and animations.

2017-06-01 00:00:00

EDGE Released

This is an official tool funded by the US DHS S&T and US Army to train teachers and first responders in an active shooter situation.

2017-06-19 00:00:00

Carmageddon: Crashers Released

This mobile game departs from the original formula of the Carmageddon series a little. Vehicles drive straight into each other, and the worst crashes win.

2017-08-20 00:00:00

Rouka de Onigokko! Released

In this free Japanese arcade-style browser game by エリック (Eric), you play as a teenage girl going on a stabbing spree inside her school.

2018-03-29 00:00:00

Active Shooter (now Standoff) Removed from Steam

In this infamous first-person shooter by the troublesome Russian duo Anton Makarevskiy and Ata Berdyev, players can be the perpetrator in an active shooter situation.

2018-10-05 00:00:00

Bolsomito 2K18 Released

This 2D beat 'em up by BS Studios supposedly promotes Brazilian politician Jair Bolsomito's ideologies. As Bolsomito, you fight women, LGBTQ members, and other minorities.

2018-12-14 00:00:00

Morimiya Middle School Shooting "Morityu" (森宮中学校銃乱射事件) Released

Also created by エリック (Eric), this arcade-style RPG game has you play a teenage girl as she commits a school shooting in her middle school.

Video Games Where Players Kill Innocents

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