20 most controversial video games, from Grand Theft Auto to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Louis Chilton
Rockstar Games/Ubisoft/List

For nearly as long as video games have existed, they have been the subject of controversy.

In 1976, Death Race became one of the first games to truly test the limits of good taste, with rudimentary gameplay inviting players to run over stick figures with a two-dimensional car. Decades later, the highly acclaimed Grand Theft Auto franchise would land in hot water for depicting almost exactly the same thing – only in a lot more detail.

Some games are controversial by design, either excessively violent or morally problematic. In some instances, they're indefensibly obscene, while others were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, wrapped up in an uproar of someone else's making, such as the criminally misappropriated Pokémon Go.

Controversy can sometimes damage a game's release, but often it gives them an instant injection of publicity. There are countless examples of games perversely benefiting from the whirlwind of scandal, Grand Theft Auto being arguably the most infamous.

From best-selling titles to obscure-but-reviled independent releases, here are 20 of the most controversial video games of all time...