Rockstar Games, the developer/publisher behind video game series such as Grand Theft Auto, is no stranger to controversies and scandals, whose products have been the target of large, well-known political and social campaigns that mostly focused on curbing violence in video games.

On the other hand, we owe much of the industry's current freedom to Rockstar's efforts to always push boundaries, making it possible to finally create games like GTA 5 without (much) contention. But the journey along the way has been far from smooth, with every release of the company creating headlines and backlash from decades ago.

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Let's take a look at 6 times Rockstar has gotten itself in hot water for its depiction of some of the worst humanity has to offer in its games:

6 Times Rockstar Got Caught in Major Controversies

GTA and Violence (1998 and 2001)

The first controversy in which Rockstar became involved began with the arrival of the original GTA on the PlayStation 1 in 1998. The game had already been released on the PC without a fuss, but when it arrived at the Sony console a few months later it began to pick up the earliest detractors and critics for Rockstar.

Rockstar Games: 6 Times The Company's Controversies Shocked Gaming

This was because GTA was one of the first titles to not portray the player as the good guy, making him a villain who can run over people, kill, destroy whatever he wants, etc. The game's dark humor helped the game to get around some sensibilities, but things would then get worse.

Rockstar Games: 6 Times The Company's Controversies Shocked Gaming

The violence in GTA had already raised controversy in its simple 2D format, but the complaints would only increase when the franchise made the leap to 3D. The famous GTA 3 for PlayStation 2, the first in the series to have a 3D world in third-person, became the main target of groups against violence in games. The ability to catch prostitutes and beat them up to get money back was one of the biggest criticisms at the time.

Manhunt and Sadistic Murders (2003-2004)

Even when the controversy surrounding GTA 3 hadn't blown over, Rockstar still decided to take a step forward with the Manhunt series. As a criminal who has escaped the death penalty, you are thrown into a kind of macabre Reality Show, where the participants' goal is to survive and eliminate other competitors.

Rockstar Games: 6 Times The Company's Controversies Shocked Gaming

The game uses stealth elements to sneak around without being noticed and then execute your enemies in horrific ways with improvised weapons. The more sadistic-oriented violence in Manhunt guaranteed the game would receive negative attention, which it did.

Rockstar Games: 6 Times The Company's Controversies Shocked Gaming

But the bad press would get even more intense with what was to come in July 2004: A 17-year-old teenager killed his 14-year-old friend with more than 50 hammer blows in England, followed by a statement from the victim's parents that Manhunt was an influence on the crime. The police later ruled out the connection, saying the crime was motivated by theft to pay off a drug debt.

GTA: San Andreas and Hot Coffee (2005)

When complaints of violence about the GTA series seemed to be losing momentum in the face of its overwhelming popularity, a new scandal appeared. In 2005 a programmer found codes hidden in GTA: San Andreas for what would be a s.e.x minigame called Hot Coffee, which allowed the player to use commands to perform certain "actions".

Rockstar Games: 6 Times The Company's Controversies Shocked Gaming

Although the programming for the minigame was in the game, the characters remained dressed, and there were no versions of them without clothes. The minigame was not even accessible via normal means, but it still created a big stir around this issue which affected the age rating of San Andreas.

Rockstar Games: 6 Times The Company's Controversies Shocked Gaming

The title ended up being reclassified, from "Mature" (17 years old) to "Adults Only", a classification that would automatically ban the game from being sold in most video game stores. Rockstar quickly rounded up these versions of the game and released a second edition, without the code, allowing the game to go back on sale.

Bully and The Theme of Bullying (2006)

Seemingly without rest, Rockstar released another controversial new title in a short time, called Bully, which used elements of the open world of GTA within a school environment. The fact that the game is based on the theme of bullying raised many complaints from support groups for teenagers who suffer from the problem, but the content of the game is relatively positive.

Rockstar Games: 6 Times The Company's Controversies Shocked Gaming

The protagonist, Jimmy Hopkins, tries to deal with the problem of bullying at his new school and works to end it, even if at times he has to participate in it. Regardless, Bully ended up being banned in some countries on the grounds that it would be harmful to young people.

LA Noire and Exploited Employees (2011)

The production of LA Noire was among those similar games stuck in development hell, taking seven years to finally come out, for reasons that were never really clear. In 2011, an anonymous source, which claimed to be a former employee, made several complaints about Australian developer Team Bondi, responsible for the game that would be published by Rockstar.

Rockstar Games: 6 Times The Company's Controversies Shocked Gaming

According to him, employees worked a weekly shift of 80 to 110 hours, without weekends, in abusive conditions, and for very low pay. A list of more than 130 people who worked on the game was also provided, whose names were removed from the credits for having left the studio.

Former Team Bondi boss Brendan McNamara did not deny excessive working hours but did not comment much on the rest of the charges. In the same year, Team Bondi ended up closing.

GTA 5 and The Torture Scene (2013)

The most insane playable character in GTA 5 is Trevor, who is based on the players themselves for all the chaos they created in GTA. In a very controversial scene, however, Trevor needs to torture a person to obtain information, which has led many advocacy groups against the practice to issue criticisms against the game. Many reviews upon the game's release also complained about this scene.

Rockstar Games: 6 Times The Company's Controversies Shocked Gaming

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