There’s nothing like a little family gaming time to help you bond with your kids over your shared love of video games, as long as you’re playing a game that everyone can enjoy. Most teens are capable of handling violence and other mature content in games — and good luck trying to tell them otherwise — but younger kids need to have their gaming time monitored more closely. If your child is in the 12-and-under club, you probably wouldn’t let them play Call of Duty.
But what about letting them watch while you play? Researchers have yet to find any conclusive links between violent video games and child behavior, but if your kid still gets scared during Disney movies, they probably don’t need to watch while you ruthlessly mow down enemy soldiers. Even if you think they’re too young to understand what they’re seeing, here are some more games you should definitely think twice about playing around your kids.
South Park: The Stick Of Truth is… well, South Park
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two decades, you’ve probably seen at least an episode or two of the Comedy Central animated sitcom South Park. If so, then you already know that this popular satirical series doesn’t exactly provide "family-friendly entertainment." Mature language, sexual situations, and violence feature prominently in most episodes, and the show’s shock value wasn’t toned down at all for South Park: The Stick of Truth, a 2014 RPG based on the series.
You play the new kid in town, who joins the rest of the kids in a live fantasy roleplaying game. But your quest to find the legendary Stick of Truth soon gets out of hand, threatening the survival of the entire town. Despite a cast of child characters and a cartoonish style, The Stick of Truth‘s storyline includes a number of elements not safe for kids, including abortions, alien anal probes, and Nazis.
Grand Theft Auto V didn’t make the series any softer
The Grand Theft Auto franchise is no stranger to controversies, like the "Hot Coffee Mod" from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which allowed players to exploit the game’s files to unlock a hidden sex scene. While that source code snafu cost Rockstar Games and parent company Take-Two millions of dollars to settle lawsuits and recall the original version of the game, the GTA series is still just as inappropriate for kids today as it was back in 2004. In 2013, the franchise returned to its fictional San Andreas stomping grounds for Grand Theft Auto V.
This open-world game gives players a deeper look into the iconic city’s underworld of crime, sex, and drugs via the three protagonist characters you switch between while playing. In one particularly violent scenario, you torture another character by pulling out teeth, waterboarding, and some nastier methods we can’t mention here. Along with the traditional mission-based story mode focused on carrying out crimes and avoiding the authorities, the online multiplayer mode includes a number of violent options for solo missions or cooperative and deathmatch team play. Although your teenagers will probably be masters of GTA V long before they turn 18, this is definitely one game that you don’t want to play when the younger kiddos around around.
Surely you only play HuniePop for the puzzles
Unless you’re a PC gamer who frequents Steam’s adult-only category, you’ve probably never heard of HuniePop. One part puzzle game, one part pornography, HuniePop looks a bit like a Bejeweled knock-off at first glance — except for the large-breasted women standing next to the game board. HuniePop is a tile-matching puzzle game with a built-in dating simulator. All your potential hookups in the game love collecting those little puzzle tiles; take her on a date and you have to match up a set number of them to give to her before time runs out. You also can earn "Hunie" currency, which you use to buy your dates gifts and take your relationship to the next level.
If you have enough successful dates in a row, you advance to the final "bedroom game" round. You can probably imagine what the prize is for winning. Although HuniePop comes in both uncensored and censored versions, you definitely don’t want your kids watching you play either one.
Mortal Kombat is graphic at any level of graphics
Mortal Kombat has been around for over 25 years and has never been exactly the most family friendly of games, but a little bit of 16-bit blood never hurt anyone (we cannot verify this). In the ’90s, parents tutted over the blood and gore, but the game was safely siloed away in arcades. When it threatened to invade homes through previously family-friendly avenues like Sega and Nintendo, then the moral panic hit hard. Congress got involved, and Mortal Kombat in all its guts and glory can now be indicated as one of the games that created the Entertainment Software Rating Board.
Over time, Mortal Kombat only came to embrace the inventive fatalities that made it a controversial series, safely uncensored now that it was clearly labeled as a "mature" title. The better the graphics got, the more graphic Mortal Kombat became. From tearing off your own head to getting vertically sliced in two, it doesn’t feel good to be the loser in a Mortal Kombat match. Mortal Kombat X took things to a whole new level and gave players an inside glimpse of the gore, showing snapping bones and flayed skin. Mortal Kombat 11 looks to continue the tradition of upping the graphical ante.
Saints Row IV has everything you want — and everything you don’t want your kids — to see
Surprisingly, Grand Theft Auto V wasn’t the most kid-inappropriate game of 2013. That title actually goes to Saints Row IV, an open-world action adventure from Volition. Before today, you were just the leader of the 3rd Street Saints. Now you’re the President of the United States, you have superpowers, and it’s up to you and your gang to fight off the alien invasion that threatens to end the world. Saints Row IV delivers the over-the-top satire gamers have come to expect from the franchise, with a heaping dose of violence, sex, drugs, and other mature content thrown in for good measure.
There’s plenty of profanity and buckets of blood to go around, but Saints Row IV doesn’t stop there. The game also includes some creatively blurred frontal nudity and even an alien anal probe weapon. Yes, really. In every country but Australia, you can use this pooper-shooter to attack enemies or civilians from behind and launch them into the air. However, the gaming regulators Down Under decided Saints Row IV had gone too far and refused to give the game a rating. Subsequently, Volition had to censor the game, making the Aussie version incompatible with international cooperative modes. Every version is incompatible with kids, though.
Silent Hill: Homecoming is too scary for kids, or Australia
Like Saints Row IV, the 2008 survival horror video game Silent Hill: Homecoming ran into some trouble with the Australian authorities when it was first released. Homecoming focuses on the tale of ex-soldier Alex Shepherd, who returns to find his hometown unrecognizable and his beloved younger brother missing. As he investigates his brother’s disappearance and the shadowy cult that might be responsible, things get pretty scary — and entirely too graphic for any kid to see.
Silent Hill: Homecoming offers players all the terror of a blockbuster horror movie: blood, gore, dismembered corpses, decapitations, torture, and even graphic sexual content. The Australian ratings board told developers Double Helix Games to rack off with that nonsense if they wanted to sell the game there, and the devs dutifully complied, censoring some of the most graphic parts in order to land an MA15+ rating. However, even toning down the gore wasn’t enough for the German classification board, who ordered that all imported copies of the game be confiscated and destroyed.
Heavy Rain is a real downer
Unless you want to pay for your child’s therapy for the next 20 years, don’t let them watch you play Heavy Rain. This 2010 interactive action adventure lets you learn about and track down the brutal Origami Killer, a serial killer who drowns his victims in the rain. While the gameplay style is more of a family-friendly interactive puzzle, the plot of Heavy Rain is definitely NOT appropriate for kids. There’s lots of graphic violence, sex, profanity, and drug use — but those aspects aren’t what makes Heavy Rain such a bad idea to play around your kids. Did we mention that all of the Origami Killer’s victims are children?
This game is just extremely dark from start to finish, and even though there are more than 20 possible outcomes based on your actions during the game, only one of them is positive. The other endings will likely leave you (and anyone watching you play) depressed for days.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is adorably age-inappropriate
Speaking of depression, let’s talk about the popular roguelike dungeon crawler The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. This indie title got its start in 2011 as a Flash game, quickly gaining acclaim and earning a full release for consoles and PC. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth takes the Biblical tale of Isaac and gives it an extremely dark twist. In the game, young Isaac has been stripped naked and locked in the basement by his deranged and abusive mother. He sets out to explore the maze of passages and find a way to escape her clutches.
The randomized corridors and rooms of The Binding of Isaac teem with enemies that offer some intense and enjoyable gameplay while staying only mildly gory thanks to the cartoonish graphics. However, younger kids might be pretty traumatized when they eventually realize that poor Isaac was put in this dungeon by his own mother and left with nothing but his tears to protect him from the monsters. Obviously, the biggest monster of them all is Isaac’s mother, who tries to kill him as he faces her in the final battle. If you have little ones, you’ll probably want to wait until they’re a bit older to teach them the ways of fighting The Bloat.
Hatred is not for the faint of heart, or strong of heart, or really anyone
If you’re a misanthrope with some deep-seated rage for humanity and a passion for extremely violent video games, then Hatred might just be the game you’ve been looking for. This 2015 isometric twin-stick shoot ’em up features a psychopathic main character ("The Antagonist"), who decides he’s had enough with the rotting carcass of this planet and the "human worms" who feast on it. Loaded for bear, he starts a mass-killing spree in New York City and then embarks to commit genocide on a massive scale.
His motives are left up to interpretation, but Hatred is extremely disturbing even without giving the main character a real backstory or plot. The game even encourages you to show no mercy for the people you encounter along the way: the only way to recover health is by brutally executing those you’ve incapacitated. Not surprisingly, Hatred has caused quite a bit of controversy since its release. The game was initially pulled by Steam before being re-added to the Greenlight platform, and the CEO/animator of Hatred faced allegations that he holds neo-Nazi and anti-Islamic beliefs. Even if you enjoy indulging your inner sociopath by playing Hatred every once in a while, definitely make sure your kids aren’t around to see you laugh gleefully as you murder innocent civilians.
Games with loot boxes
When it comes to gaming with your kids, you should avoid any games that sell loot boxes. You get these virtual treasure chests by playing long hours until you earn one, or by purchasing them for real money. There’s just one catch: you don’t know what’s inside. A loot box could contain an amazingly rare item, but it most likely doesn’t. In many popular games, you can open as many of these consumable mystery items as you want with just the press of a button (and your linked credit card). A loot box is kind of like a slot machine with no guaranteed payouts or regulations.
Titles featuring loot boxes (like Overwatch, FIFA 17, and Star Wars: Battlefront 2) have made worldwide news as officials debate whether to make these mystery item microtransactions illegal. Like gambling, loot boxes can cause major addiction problems for some. Just ask this guy, who spent over $17,000 on in-game purchases in only three years. In the hands of a child with no impulse control, a loot box addiction could spell certain disaster for your wallet — not to mention the possible gambling addiction problems it could cause for your child later in life.
Genital Jousting has a hard message to swallow
When it comes to Genital Jousting, there’s not a single SFW second, because the game is exactly what the title suggests it is: jousting with genitals. Penises, to be precise. Flaccid, flying penises flopping about in various situations. They even have little outfits. As entertaining and hilarious as a playthrough of Genital Jousting is to watch, the game is even more inappropriate beyond the lurid (but strangely adorable) design.
The game has a plot, if you can believe it, and multiple game modes. However, the main mechanic behind gameplay is penetration, because not only does the phallic protagonist John have the usual accessories associated with being a penis, he also has a butt into which things are unceremoniously shoved. Even if the explicit visuals and constant innuendo (is it really innuendo if the body part is right there on screen?) were deemed just fine for general consumption, Genital Jousting deals with some very adult messages in its surprisingly melancholy story mode.
John is trying to find himself, unsatisfied with the run-of-the-mill life he has led up until now. He struggles to do all the things that in theory will make him desirable: he travels, he works out, and he tries dating. But John is … well, a d**k, and an angrily entitled one at that. In a haunting echo of disastrous interactions with nice guys, John takes out his anger on the women in his life as he tries to prove his manhood.
Do you still shower with your dad?
If you through that only 3D games could be explicit, you were sorely mistaken. Even the most rudimentary of 8-bit games can manage to make us blush, as exemplified by the interestingly titled Shower with Your Dad Simulator. Like Genital Jousting, the name says it all, but not in a creepy way. Rather, the game is about matching the the correct son with their correct dad as they bathe in a public shower, because it would be pretty concerning if a kid rinsed off with a stranger.
There are three dads with their sensitive bits bluntly censored by a black bar, and the player to scamper to as quickly as possible while dodging wet floor signs. And that’s about it. There are a few other game modes, but the goal is speedily reuniting father and son and earning a "dadstreak." Amusingly, "streaking" is the key function here.
Some reviewers have read further into this simple premise and believe that Shower with Your Dad Simulator is actually quite sinister. Allegedly, the game is trivializing child abuse and shouldn’t be allowed on Steam. Is the game promoting pedophilia? According to Andy Burrows, NSPCC Associate Head of Child Safety Online, it is. Creator Marbenx, on the other hand, insists that the game is nothing more than "good, clean fun." Considering the controversy and the artful yet awkward self-censorship, this might not be the best game to load up in front of the family.
House Party: losing your pants is an essential mechanic
Ah, House Party. Every other Let’s Play seems to have, at one point or another, joined in on this particular party and gotten soundly demonetized for their troubles. See, as popular as the game became, it wasn’t exactly trying to be anything more than a sexually charged series of fetch quests with questionable morals. But hey, the game gives players what they really want … like the ability to whip open their pants at any moment and, uh, proceed to pleasure themselves from there.
The main goal of the game is for the player to persuade one or more of the many female attendees (or Frank) to do the pleasuring. This is largely done through blackmail, bribery, and other forms of totally immoral trickery as the protagonist navigates the wants and needs of the party girls, who are naturally flat characters without much personality beyond "likes drugs" or "busty."
Even if Steam doesn’t have any qualms with plying girls with whip-its or stealing phone passcodes, it does have a beef with the considerable sex scenes. This led to developer Eek! Games adding in some censors for the game to get reinstated on Steam, saying that House Party had been a target for a "certain group of people." Whether or not a game with sexual coercion at its core can claim martyrdom, the new Steam-friendly version is still just as child-unfriendly as its previous incarnation.
Five Minutes to Kill (Yourself) encourages you to kill yourself
Parents today have to worry about dangerous trends harming their kids, like the Blue Whale challenge or other deadly dares. Five Minutes To Kill Yourself sounds like one of these, but in actuality, it’s a flash game that was heavily promoted on late night television back in the day. Specifically, Adult Swim aired many an ad for various flash games hosted on its site, back when people played flash games, and this title was one of its most popular.
The game, which can be found today in various incarnations online and on mobile, has a straightforward premise: commit suicide as quickly as possible. The fairly minimal game turns the average office into a killing field where anything can be a deadly weapon — staplers, shredders, and even your average bucket of sand (IRL pro tip: don’t eat buckets of sand — you’ll die). Advertising such a game within relative reach of curious kids’ eyes today is anathema, unthinkable. Even trying to Google this game yielded a lot of redirects to suicide helplines.
We remember struggling to keep awake for one more episode of late night anime and being blasted with another commercial for Five Minutes to Kill Yourself. Surely such messaging didn’t have any negative effects on our developing psyches, right?
Conan Exiles lets you fight as you were born: naked
A barbarian world can be expected to be, well, barbaric, but Conan Exiles takes that phrase to a whole new unwholesome level. Survival games require their players to get back to their basest instincts, because surviving often comes down to the hard and fast rules of kill or be killed. Players have to kill animals for food and kill each other for protection, but it’s a little awkward to fight for your life when you’re graphically, luridly, flaccidly naked.
Conan Exiles gives players a ton of creative license when it comes to creating their character, including the ability to choose whether or not they’re stark naked. Players are also treated to the "breast size" and "endowment" sliders in the character creation menu, which allows players to decide exactly how much flopping will happen as they fight to survive the harsh world (hint: it’s a lot of flopping).
Even if players try their best to be modest and opt into the loincloth, Conan Exiles has no shortage of depravity. The religions in the game, which can give devotees certain enviable buffs and abilities, are celebrated in strange ways, like orgies … or rape … or, an old favorite, cannibalism. Derketo, goddess of fertility, demands "deviant orgies that can last for weeks and include necrophilia and bestiality" from her worshippers. There’s also slavery in the game, so even if the player tries their best to avoid moral no-nos, it’s definitely not a game one should play in front of impressionable children.
Manhunt 2 is barely age-appropriate for adults, let alone kids
Known for its extreme levels of violence and gore, Rockstar Games’ 2004 horror survival game Manhunt caused controversy around the world. That controversy peaked after Manhunt was linked to a murder in the UK, banned in Australia, and confiscated by the authorities in Germany. But if this gruesome game was bad, its 2007 sequel Manhunt 2 is even worse.
You play one of two characters in Manhunt 2: amnesiac mental patient Daniel Lamb or psychopathic assassin Leo Kasper. The game was initially given a rare "Adults Only" rating by the ESRB, which would have effectively banned its sale in the US. To get Manhunt 2 released, Rockstar had to tone down some of its most graphic details by blurring the screen during executions and removing the game’s original scoring system, which rewarded you for committing particularly atrocious and brutal murders. Even with the censoring, Manhunt 2 still received a "Mature" rating, with some gamers considering it to be the goriest game of all time.
Unless you want to traumatize your kids for life, save this game for long after they’ve gone to bed.
You can’t run from Outlast’s necrophilia scene
A good scare can be appropriate for all ages, but the terror of Outlast might not be appropriate for even the most avid of horror fans. Firstly, the game doesn’t have the most sensitive take on those suffering from mental health issues. Taking place in an ethically questionable asylum, the monsters of the story are the mentally ill. And ghosts, apparently.
Supernatural elements aside, what the player experiences in the Mount Massive Asylum as investigative journalist Miles Upshur is nothing short of a serious human rights violation. The game is filled with gore and gruesome characters that want to kill then eat (or eat then kill) the player. The Twins are two hulking figures who calmly discuss snacking on Miles. They are also really very naked. There are a couple of other naked inmates, and one absolutely scarring run-in with a necrophile. No amount of therapy has scrubbed that from our minds yet.
Outlast‘s "Whistleblower" DLC adds in everyone’s favorite sadist: Eddie Gluskin. He’s something of a romantic, known to other inmates as "The Groom" because he dresses spiffy and is ardently in search of a wife. Those are in short supply at Mount Massive, but Eddie will make do. In his workshop, he mutilates men in order to create his perfect bride. When he gets ahold of the player, he strips them naked and straps them down, edging their most delicate parts closer and closer to a circular saw, all while saying sweet nothings. Scarier than any jump scare.
The Forest has too many arms and legs and cannibals
The Forest might be a bit traumatic for parents to play, because the main character is a parent himself. You watch as his son, Timmy, is ragdolled around in a plane crash and then taken by what can only be described as a flayed man. Talk about stranger danger.
The player then must exit the halved plane and make like Lost: survive while unraveling the secrets of the island in search of your missing son. Naturally, The Forest takes place on the least average island possible. It’s populated by cannibals who are sometimes curious, sometimes hostile to the player as they build their base. They’re naked and can attack at any moment. Players can build fences and traps, but if they’re willing to sacrifice a little sanity, another way to keep the cannibals away is by building effigies with their body parts.
Further into the island, it turns out that the cannibals aren’t the scariest creatures. Mutants made of too many arms or too many legs dwell in the darkest of caves. The island had created these creatures from experiments with ancient artifacts meant to resurrect the dead, but they could only be activated by the death of a human child. Timmy was used to bring back Megan, a scientist’s daughter, but she’s not quite herself. Acting as a final boss, she mutates into a bloody mass of arms and legs. Once defeated, the player is left with a terrible decision: will they crash another plane to find a child sacrifice for Timmy?
My Summer Car: don’t drive drunk
My Summer Car is only partially about cars. The real heart of the game is getting down to a real, authentic Finnish experience. Finns everywhere would have good reason to be upset if we said that in earnest, because the character you play as in My Summer Car isn’t the best role model. They’re foul-mouthed, faceless, borderline alcoholic, and reckless; exactly the kind of person one wants behind the wheel of a car.
The game is centered around building a car from the ground up, but there’s many other factors that distract the protagonist along the way, like the fact that they don’t actually know how to build a car. Or beer. Drinking, and drinking a lot, is a mainstay of the game. Players must carefully monitor stats indicating how thirsty or how full their bladder is at all times. Should the latter stat reach a critical level, players are able to, uh, release anywhere, even in public. Drink too much and a full bladder isn’t the biggest problem you’ll have to contend with. Crashing and dying will wipe all progress the player has thus far made, kind of like real life.
Also like real life, there are several options for shouting expletives or flipping off neighbors. Unlike real life, these actions don’t have consequences, so be sure to separate the drunken, redneck world of My Summer Car firmly from sober reality.
P.T. is not safe for life
Usually, being scared by a game is somewhat fun. Playing Five Nights at Freddy’s is a series of jumpscares that can dissolve into laughter. Slender could be enjoyed with a pack of friends watching the screen intently. The remake of Resident Evil 2 has spawned let’s plays and memes galore.
P.T. is different. Even with a few well-placed jumpscares, you’re not likely to experience any rush of relieved laughter after what you’ve seen in that cursed, endless hallway. The game is easily one of the most disturbing psychological horrors ever played, using both audio and visuals to plunge the player into the claustrophobically small but demented world. The looping hallway, the radio crackling with tragic news, the flickering lights and slamming doors are all designed to set the player on edge, peel away at their sanity. And it works. If you can manage to keep walking down the hall over and over, you’ll see some of the worst of what Hideo Kojima’s mind has to offer up.
Like half-formed, bloody, crying fetuses. Or the putrefied face of a murdered woman. Or another fetus, this time talking. Or giggling. P.T. is neither for the faint of heart nor those who don’t want to be haunted by a distorted-sink-fetus.