Press “Start” to permanently damage
We’re not telling you how to raise your kids, but if you let them play any of these games, we’re putting you on the FBI watch list. Also, you’re letting your son eat too much corn syrup and he should really have more friends his own age. Here are the games that will ruin your children. Parents and Santa Claus, take notes.
Manhunt 2 (2007 – PlayStation 2, Wii, PSP, PC)
Bulletstorm (2011 – PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Granted, the title’s satirical nature – it takes first-person shooter and hardcore gaming clichés, then amps up the misogyny, bloodshed and offbeat one-liners to ludicrous levels – don’t warrant the moniker of “Worst Video Game in the World,” as some outlets labeled it. But as the giant “M” for Mature rating on the front of the box screams, unless you want your kid to earn their merit badge in groin shots, crass jokes or corpse-juggling stunts, here’s a hint: It’s probably not one that should be on little Billy’s wish list. Get him a plank of splintered wood and a bucket of unlit match heads instead. It’ll be less detrimental.
Postal 2 (2003 – PC)
Never mind the storyline, which sees a heavily-armed nihilist run amok against a typical suburban backdrop. All you need to know about this first-person shooter – wherein everyday settings become scenes of black comedy and ultra-violence – is that it casually lets you gun down civilians, stick a shotgun up a cat’s rear-end, and (perhaps most frighteningly still) features a cameo by Gary Coleman. Even more damning evidence: The series – hugely controversial since its 1997 debut with a top-down blaster that gave U.S. mail carriers a coronary – was eventually adapted into a film by Uwe Boll, viewed by some Internet commentators as Germany’s most frightening export since scat films.
Thrill Kill (1998 – PlayStation)
A twisted four-player fighting game scheduled to be published by EA, but canceled before release, Thrill Kill boasted a great deal of violent and sexual content, including playable redneck cannibals and special moves with clever names like “Bitch Slap” and “Swallow This.” Oddly for what should be a minor cautionary historical tale, its claim to fame extends beyond pure hyper-violence. Since the title was virtually complete when discontinued, its creators released the game into the wild, where it spread quickly via bootlegs and downloads, and remains one of the most widely-distributed virtual morbidities of all time. Curiously, the same engine built for it also powers hip-hop fighting title Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style. When life gives you lemons, turn them into a lackluster, forgettable hip-hop fighting games.
Saw (2009 – PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
As lifelong supporters of Cthulhu, Dracula, mothers-in-law and other hideous monstrosities that go “raaaagh” in the night, we’ve got no problem with your average, everyday survival horror simulation. But unlike, say, Silent Hill, which some parents may allow, it’s unwise to let any kid enjoy this, the first in a series of action-adventures where you wander an asylum filled with homicidal maniacs, lethal deathraps and Rube Goldberg-like devices that must be disassembled before someone loses an eye, ball or their entire abdomen. If a tendency to get one’s head accidentally blown off opening doors rigged with shotgun traps doesn’t clearly indicate children shouldn’t be allowed within 50-feet of the games away, trust us. Challenges that involve sticking your hands into corpses and piles of rusty syringes will.
RapeLay (2006 – PC)
[Instead of showing the game, please enjoy the above video of kittens on a slide. You’re welcome.]
You don’t know the meaning of “repulsive” until you lay eyes on RapeLay, a Japanese release that glorifies sexual violence. Much to normally-adjusted individuals’ horror, play essentially revolves around groping, stalking and raping a family of innocent women. Thankfully, having garnered massive international outrage (ironically, years after its initial release), the title barely made it beyond Japanese borders before being jettisoned from international distributors. We probably need counseling for having to write up this little blurb about it.
JFK Reloaded (2004 – PC)
Oh boy, it’s just what sane Baby Boomers the world over have been clamoring for: A chance to relive the assassination of John F. Kennedy – and as the killer, no less. Despite developer Traffic Games’ stated intentions to recreate history and offer new perspective on the seminal event, the title was “just plain creepy,” as Slate pointed out. The good news: Huge as the Nixon era is with children and all, we’re guessing (thank heaven) few tots were accidentally exposed to it.
BMX XXX (2002 – GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox)
Bicycles and nudity… why didn’t we think of that? Two great tastes that taste icky together, this gonzo hybrid combined topless thrills and cameos by strippers with action sports mechanics to create an unlikely spin-off. Ironically, despite generating major controversy (and prompting an intriguing press junket to New York’s infamous Scores gentleman’s club, which a digital editor at Maxim.com did attend), retail sales failed to deliver. Needless to say, whoever came up with the concept must feel like quite the, ahem, boob.
Super Columbine Massacre RPG (2005 – PC)
Whatever your stance on the title or critics arguments about the potentially informative social commentary it provides, kids should take a pass. Watch this puppy video and think about happier things.
Thor: God of Thunder (2011 – PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS)
Surprise: The movie didn’t entirely suck. But get your kid the video game adaptation, which consistently ranked among the worst outings of 2011, and believe us, the youngster will scream for mercy and will grow up to be the next Hannibal Lecter or Skrillex.
High-tech parenting expert Scott Steinberg has just launched the new book series “The Modern Parent’s Guide,” covering all aspects of connected family life, and companion video show “Family Tech: Technology for Parents and Kids.” You can download the first volume “The Modern Parent’s Guide to Kids and Video Games” free at www.ParentsGuideBooks.com now.