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Top 10 Embarrassing Moments in Video Game History

Evilgidgit . . . Comments

Video games have grown into one of the most popular and successful parts of the media, with its numerous consoles, forms of gaming, characters and their creators. But with every success comes an embarrassing event that can make gamers and the gaming industry bow their heads in shame. Whether they are rubbish games and consoles, to humiliating E3 conferences, to the infamous 1983 video game crash, the industry has seen some embarrassing moments in its lifetime – here are ten of them.


Jack Thompson


One of the biggest enemies of gamers was Jack Thompson, a former American attorney who seemed to have a personal hatred against video games. While he seemed to be concerned for children who played games, he also seemed very paranoid, believing children copy everything they see in games. Every time there was a crime involving firearms or weapons, or a murder, Thompson would immediately jump on the bandwagon and accuse video games of being responsible, with little evidence to back up his claims other than apparent “statistics.” He has taken on such games as Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and, apparently, he even accused Mario, The Legend of Zelda and Metroid of driving kids to commit crime. He was eventually, and thankfully, barred from practicing law and the video game community rejoiced.


Dangers of the Wii Remote


The Wii was considered one of Nintendo’s oddest but unique ideas, introducing the motion sensor controller, or at least a new version, to the gaming industry. However, within the first few months of the Wii’s days on the shelf, some people got a little carried away, swinging the Wii Remote and this led to some people smashing their windows, TVs, consoles and the remotes themselves. Other complaints came about the Wii Remote such as strained wrists and difficulties using the controller, but it was the damage the remote could cause that was the major complaint. However, while Nintendo fixed the remote by introducing the Wii Jacket, it was somewhat the fault of the remotes’ users for not using it safely with the remote’s safety strap.


Electric Soldier Porygon


Pokémon took the world by storm in the 1990s, with its games, manga comics, toys, trading cards and the anime. However, just as the anime was rocketing up into the sky, it came crashing down when the episode known as “Electric Soldier Porygon” aired in Japan, and gave over six-hundred children seizures with its flashing strobe lights. The impact was so shocking (no pun intended) that TV Tokyo pulled Pokémon from the schedule for four months, until 1998. As expected, America threw a fit, since they were also airing the anime and ultimately decided to not air the episode. This became a universal agreement across the world, and the episode has never aired on TV since.


N-Gage Price

300Px-Nokia N-Gage

Nokia is known for being huge in the mobile phone industry, and not so much in the gaming industry. Trying to sell their own gaming system at the 2003 E3 event, the N-Gage, the presenters were like fish out of water and the conference was awkward. Plus, the N-Gage proved not to be a very interesting or usable device, since its buttons were built for a phone. And then the presenters brought out the device’s price – on a girl’s stomach – $299. As you can imagine, the N-Gage did poorly in sales and Nokia gave up on it in 2010.


Super Mario Bros. the Movie


When it was announced that the Super Mario Bros. were to get a movie adaptation, gamers anticipated a wonderful tribute to the video games they had grown to love, not to mention that it was the first ever video game movie, but it was a mess. The colorful world of the Mushroom Kingdom had become a bizarre alternate world like some sort of post-apocalyptic Manhattan where dinosaurs evolved from humans, Bowser was the late Dennis Hopper, Goombas were odd dinosaur hitmen, and the Mario Bros. themselves were played by Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo.

Fans were undeniably disappointed, if not enraged, and this film, sadly paved the way for many more video game movies to fail at the box office. The actors condemned the film, blaming the husband-and-wife directing duo for making rubbish decisions, and extending the filming schedule into endless months of pain and misery. Even Mario and Luigi’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto, objected to the film, in his own nice way.


Jamie Kennedy at E3

Kennedy 2007

Activision made perhaps one of the biggest mistakes of their history by inviting Jamie Kennedy to host their 2007 E3 press conference. However, they didn’t count on Jamie coming to the conference stoned off his butt. Seemingly having no idea what he was doing or talking about, Jamie slurred through most of the conference, insulting the audience and telling some really rubbish jokes – he thought the audience were too slow to follow his “humor.” The guests and the audience themselves were funnier then him. Companies attending E3 have made some bad decisions on who their hosts will be, but this has got to be the worst.


Virtual Boy


Gunpei Yokoi’s career in the gaming industry, sadly, went out on a low note. The creator of Metroid, the Game & Watch series, and the Game Boy, Gunpei introduced the Virtual Boy to gamers. The console turned out to be Nintendo’s single flop in their history of consoles, the virtual reality console giving users headaches in more ways than one. It was quickly discontinued, Gunpei left Nintendo and then, sadly, died in a car accident in 1997.


Sony’s 2006 E3 Conference

190588-Giant Enemy Crab Large

Sony’s 2006 E3 conference was the most embarrassing conference in the convention’s history. While the Playstation 3 and Sony had success over the next few years, the incompetence of the presenters led to some hilarious internet memes – including the rather failed shout of “Ridge Racer!” to get the gamers present rallied up. But the conference is most known for the promo of Genji 2, which the makers said were based on historical, actual fights in Japanese history – and then a “giant enemy crab” bounded into it, completely opposing what was just said. How many giant crabs ran around Japan in the old days?


Playstation Network’s Shutdown


Early in 2011, the Playstation Network unexpectedly got shutdown for several weeks after an “external intrusion” – a.k.a. hackers stole 7.7 million accounts worth of personal details. Everyone from fans, to businessmen, to the media, to even governments ripped Sony left and right for them to fix their problems and criticized their failure to provide better security to the Network’s users. Nevertheless, Sony eventually fixed the Network, re-opened it in May, and made numerous apologies, including a rather respectful one at their 2011 E3 conference. Let’s just hope it doesn’t happen again.


The Video Game Crash of 1983


The darkest year of video games was 1983, and yet it appeared to start out so good – arcades were popping up across America, Atari was king of the world, and Pac-Man was ruling the roost long before Mario and Sonic entered the fray. But then Atari got too big for its boots – game designers were denied authorial credits for their creations, many programmers abandoned the company, the company made cheap games and consoles – and then they made the six-week created game E.T. Considered the worst game ever, E.T. miserably failed and tons of cartridges of the game were buried in a landfill in New Mexico. Atari was on the rocks and it never fully recovered.

Computer gaming picked up whilst the rest of the gaming industry collapsed. The media wasn’t exactly sympathetic, the snobbish people of yesteryear proclaiming gaming was a fad and would quickly die out. The Video Game Crash of 1983 was well and truly on – and then Nintendo kicked the door in and introduced the NES. At first the NES didn’t do well with the ROB device and the Zapper, but it got on shelves and allowed Nintendo to bring video games back from the grave with a little game called Donkey Kong, and the rest is history.

  • sluggo

    hmm.. interesting list

    • Mustafa

      Damn. ET is the greatest video game ever!

  • nixa


    • p1t1o

      Never comment again.

  • Get Off My Lawn!

    I’m so grateful that they didn’t have video games when I was growing up. I loved to read and play real sports or board games. Of course I did watch too much TV, so my brain got ruined just the same.

    • lukainthesky

      Coming out of lurkdom just to say you’re an idiot.

      • VintageObsessive


    • hm

      i play shitloads of games and still read called moderation………… :D

  • aws4cbale

    Finally! An awesome list!!

    • SuthenB

      I know right! Oh and I laughed a serious five minutes over your user name. Yes you know me.

  • I am old enough that none of this list made any sense to me…

    • bbbaldie

      LOL, I can relate. :-)

    • ribenaberry

      Age is not a boundary – I’m 26 and the only thing I understood was Wii!

    • Xyroze

      Do you show up a lot of places that clearly aren’t intended for you and tell everyone there that you don’t belong? I’m just curious because that’s quite a nonsensical habit..

      • Mantou

        Ha! One of the best comments I’ve ever seen on this site.

        • VintageObsessive


          • Chris. T.

            Agreed 3x Xyroze, well said.

    • Chris T.

      aspicco, you flaunt your “I’m too old or cool to get videogames” shtick whenever there is any videogame related article on this site, your track record is readily apparent even without me calling you out, so time to stfu and drop the false sense of superiority, bud. You’re not “cooler” than gamers.

      • did not think I implies any sense of superiority… just commenting on the isolated nature of some of these lists…

        if i wanted to be snotty I could have said “What’s next? Top Ten Tips for Masturbating Since You have No Romantic Skills Having Spent Your Childhood Alone In Front Of A Video Game?”

  • Salo hes

    Good list, i would love to read more about the subject. Just when you think Listverse is all about philosophies and weird ancient histories… Keep it UP!

  • Jack Belcastro

    uhhh….what does Pokemon t.v. episode have to d0 with video games?

    • Awze

      I agree.

    • Tea Pixie

      Pokemon was a video game before it was adapted as an anime series. (The games were released in 1996, the anime came about in 1997.) It makes sense in the context of the list, and it WAS the biggest controversy Pokemon ever had in Japan.

      • Ni99a

        You should be worried for yourself for knowing so much about Pokaymahns…

      • It doesn’t make any sense. What happened on TELEVISION shouldn’t have any relevance in video gamer history, especially in the context of the list. Essentially what you’re saying is that if it’s minimally video game related it’s apart of its history? Why not put down batteries, batteries are toxic and bad for the environment, batteries go in video game controllers, hence batteries are one of the top 10 embarrassing moments. This list stinks.

        • Ariel

          E3 is on television. Does that mean we should discredit it from the list as well?

        • WOW

          Super Mario Brothers movie wasn’t a video game either douche.

  • Amrendra

    Very good list. Another man who has single handily ruined many video games franchises is the GREAT UWE BOLL!!!

  • Flash_82

    Interesting read! Never heard of the 1983 crash, explains the demise of Atari though… Being almost 30 I did have an Atari console (second hand) and played it for many hours. Still have it in the attic I think. I remember getting a brand new cartridge somewhere in the early 90’s.

    Gaming has come a long way since… Just a question, but Commodore 64 never slipped with it’s tapes?

    • Spaz

      I was addicted to the Bard’s Tale on the Commodore 64. In my opinion Intellivision was the best gaming console in the late 70’s/early 80’s.

  • Chicanochars

    The Pokemon item is from the anime not the video game so it shouldn’t be here. But no worries I have the perfect replacement and a notable omission too. Zelda for cd-I an abomination and absolute murder of Zelda. All three suck. And its embarrassing that such a big gaming company like Nintendo would allow such blasphemous games too come out starring link and Zelda.

  • jer-bear

    UHHHHH, the Bevis and Butthead game?

  • Clocktower

    Konami”s 2010 E3 conference was far worse than Sony’s

    • sega

      lol this is hilarious!

  • Anonymous94

    Since it was #1, the Video Game Crash of 1983 shouldn’t have been mentioned in the intro. Being kinda picky

    Great list!!

  • HeatherEK

    No one else sees Goatse in the N-Gage? Is it just me? Probably. I actually liked the ET game too, so that goes to show you, I guess

    • Wardrich

      Brilliant! I can’t believe I never noticed the n-goatee before lol. I’m usually the one to find that reference in obscure stuff.

  • catsniffer

    I’m not sure if number eight is really directly related to videogames?

  • Wardrich

    Too many Nintendo flops. How about the CDI and its terrible game lineup. Or Bandai’s console, originally targeted towards kids, was such a flop that they released strip-the-anime-character games and changed the target audience to adults?

  • Loved the list. The Pokemon add was interesting, might not be a perfect fit for the list but still great. LOLed at #9, never owned a console accept for the tetris one that you could buy from street vendors. Thanks for the list

  • jer-bear

    I thought #2 was a guy who hacked the PS3 into a “computer” and was distributing it for free online. Sony got wind and was going to press charges. Then he hacked the network to show how weak their defenses were. But maybe I was wrong. That’s what I get for listening to ryan thomas…

    • Bob

      I’m pretty sure none of that happened.

  • oouchan

    I liked the list. Interesting and cringe worthy. Almost makes you feel sorry for them, until you realize the good that came about by failed products. That it let others shine through. The 2006 E3 entry had me laughing. That would be an epic fail on their part.

    Nice list.

  • Interesting list. I remember hearing about the pokemon episode when I was a kid, but it gave every seizures. Oh childhood exaggeration.

    This came from the same kid who swore to god he saw his toys walking around during the night soon after toy story came out.

  • susie

    Oh my God. Jack Thompson is such an ahole. I live in South Florida where, unfortunately, so does he. We have been plagued by him for decades, and I can’t believe he’s now getting international publicity. Keep up the good work!

    • inconspicuousdetective

      yea, but he’s got a point. kids are impressionable, and that doesn’t mean if they play grand theft auto they’ll shoot people, but they will pick up on the words and the attitudes of some of the characters in the game.

      • mom424

        Not if they receive better role models in their day to day life. No way that a game/movie/cd is going to negate the examples they see in real life. Children are NOT stupid. Even small kids know the difference between TV/Video/Movies and reality.

        • inconspicuousdetective

          well you would think. first and foremost, it’s up to the parents to set the example, which is exactly what you said, however, that just doesn’t seem to happen. try this: if you have kids that play a game, say modern warfare 3, something with online capabilities, put on a headset and listen to the in-game talk. it’s some of the most vulgar, bigotted, terrible stuff you’ll hear and kids are exposed to it every time they put on the headset and talk. and if you’ve got a game like saints row three (just an example), simply the weapon names teach kids things they shouldn’t know.
          for example, my stepbrother was playing saints row, he was talking to his friend and said his favorite weapon was the d.i.l.d.o. bat. his mom heard it, he didn’t know why he got in trouble for it, and he went so far as to look for the definition in the actual dictionary. point being kids are samrt, you’re right, and they will pick up on subtleties, even if they don’t have a clue what it means. and since they don’t know, how do you prepare a kid who’s ten (as is my step brother) for that? answer: he shouldn’t be playing the game because he can’t handle the content. so, you’re half right. kids can differenciate reality and fantasy, but there is a hugh grey area because they are still learning what is and isn’t appropriate.

  • Zolaman

    Some additions:

    Microsoft releasing faulty xbox360s resulting in the “red ring of death”and their follow-up of having to extend the warrantee for 5 years on each machine.

    Also, the Daikatana fiasco with John Romero’s ad campaign where “John Romero is about to make you his B**ch”

    • Exactly red ring of death should be on this list, how the hell is it not?? Wow, I hate this shitty list.

    • Zolaman

      Thought of one more,
      The twerp that created the flash game recreating the Columbine high school massacre and said he’d take it off the internet if he recieved enough “donations”

    • Lifeschool

      RROD is a very good call!

    • fabrulana

      Yeah I also immediately thought of Daikatana’s ad campaign lol

  • How is 10 an embarrassing moment..>? For him or for video game history? 8 is television, and 5 is a film. Just because it’s minimally connected to video games doesn’t really make it significantly a part of video game history. How number 5 is in the top 5 is absurd, a shit comic having a shitty appearance is in the TOP 5?? This list is grasping at straws. Number 1 & 2 consists of the selections this list should be made up of, the rest is a waste. Shoddy list.

  • Decent list. I could probably nitpick it a bit, but I won’t.

  • James

    I’d hardly call ET the worst game ever, White Men Can’t Jump is certainly worse.

  • Jon
    This is the only thing I can think of when I hear “Virtual Boy”.

  • Steven Douglas

    This list (a very good one) cracks me up. I worked as a hardware engineer for Atari’s coin-op division in 1979. My focus was pinball, but I also worked on a team that reverse-engineered the Space Invaders game, which was bought for that purpose. There was a definite air of arrogance about the heavily pampered (and we WERE pampered) coin-op division. This was lorded over those on the personal game console side. The prevailing thought was that hardware and software costs for personal games meant that coin-op games and arcades would ALWAYS stay ahead and be technologically superior, and would therefore always rule the day. No way would people ever be able to afford the $3K needed for a whopping 16 bit CPU console system – not to mention there is only so much you can do with a composite video signal. lol

    • Lifeschool

      Excellent comment ;)

      • Carlos Estimbo


    • fendabenda

      I still love pinball, though. :)

  • Dan

    Item 3 rightfully skewers Sony for the Genji 2 promo for making a claim of reality, them throwing in something outrageous. Imagine my delight in reading my email version of the list and seeing the Q and A transition from Items 3 to 2:
    “How many giant crabs ran around Japan in the old days?

  • gav

    I might have included “pwned”, though I suppose there is some debate as to whether the typo’s extended life originated with “Warcraft” or not. To me, having a video game typo become part of the lexicon of the English language is not only an embarrassment for the video game(s), but for mankind.

    And then there’s the movie, “The Wizard” with Fred Savage which was a “Rain Man” ripoff combined with a “Super Mario 3” advertisement. If this was an oversight because you forgot all about it, you are a luckier person than I.

  • jPCrater

    Dammit, best list in months.

  • Steph

    I love the Super Mario Bros movie….:(

    • LuvsHorror

      Me too.

  • mom424

    Much more interesting than I anticipated. Of course, I’m from the age of Pinball machines in the arcades; even Space Invaders hadn’t taken off yet. I was pretty good at it too; pretty good for someone who actually attended High School now and again – and passed all those classes.

  • Zeke

    Jamie Kennedy is an INCREDIBLY arrogant person too. Ever listen to him do interviews on radio? One time he had to wait on hold to get on the air for literally just a couple of minutes and he asked them if they make (here he said a star’s name who is a million times bigger than himself) wait that long as if they were in the same league. He’s an arrogant arrogant person with way way way too much confidence in his comedic “skills” (he really is pretty bad at comedy also)

  • oak

    the pokemon 600 kids having seizures thing is false

    • bionicragdoll

      Glad some one else caught that too but it’s still a decent and entertaining list.

  • Lifeschool

    Good list today – some unexpected items and some classic favourites. As others are avoiding an obvious nit-pick, Ill say it, the NES was released worldwide in 1985, but was sold only in Japan in 1983 (as the Famicom). I doubt the NES single handedly changed the crash overnight as illuded to in the item. I think this had more to do with the Commodore 64 (1982), ZX Spectrum (1982), and the ColecoVision (1982); which combined to make home gaming very affordable.

    There was also a video game ‘crash’ in 1977.


  • Matt

    lol I’m surprised there was no “power glove” on this. I remember wanting it as a kid, but I sure can’t remember why.

  • ElBandito

    Nice one. The problem with number 2 as well was when Sony made public that even if you ‘bought’ a game online through its PS3 system…you still don’t technically own it. I had two friends who lost their rights to using Magic the Gathering even when they paid for it. They still yet to hear anything from Sony except the ol’ “Well this is how WE work. I’m sorry, but we’re not budging squat.” Luckily the game only costed twenty bucks…

    • Lifeschool

      The death of ‘hard media’, i.e discs, is a problem we can all do without.

  • kieron sim

    The porygon entry would be an anime moment wouldnt it?

  • fendabenda

    I used to play DOOM. Then I took some time off, and the next game I’m playing is Angry Birds.

  • screwjack

    The Nintendo wii remote reminds me of that SNL skit w/ Alec Baldwin lol!
    if you haven’t seen it- watch it!

  • realistSinPatria

    # 8 dosnt fit, its about the show and nothin about the actual games

  • Todd Phillis

    absolutely awful

  • Alan

    Halt, grammar police. A moment traditionally is two minutes. EVENTS that last hours, days or weeks are not moments. People, prices, movies and things aren’t moments either.

    The same applies to Top Ten Best/Worst Moments in History: an assassination lasts a moment, an entire war does not.

  • Bill Meadows

    Pac-Man on the atari 2600

  • Talanic

    A few more details about the Crash of 1983 –

    Atari made more mistakes, particularly with their port of Pac-Man for the Atari. Look it up and compare it to the arcade game; the music is gone and it has ugly, flickering graphics – no, that’s not the cost of porting it to PC, it actually flickered. Worse, it was made that way deliberately; they could have made a better copy but decided that a cheaper cartridge was better, to maximize profits. On top of that, they decided that Pac-Man would sell so many copies, they had to make more of them than there were Atari consoles already sold; they expected to sell more consoles simply because they were releasing an inferior copy of Pac-Man.

    In addition to Atari’s problems, there were dozens if not hundreds of third-party developers – who might not’ve even existed if Atari had treated its own programmers better, because defecting programmers created Activision and then won a court battle allowing them to make games for Atari consoles – and most of the third-party developers were producing crappy games. Things that wouldn’t wind up in a flash game today, put on the shelves at $30-50 next to the big-name games, which were also made with less and less effort as time went by.

    Retailers got stuck with all of those games after Christmas rolled around because the companies who’d sent them to the stores in the first place had all gone under; major stores didn’t want to ever try video games again after all they’d lost. Nintendo actually had to package that robot with the NES to sell it as a toy robot in order to get into American stores.

  • AlphaBase1

    On the last entry about how the NES saving home video games after the crash of ’83, shouldn’t the last sentence read “Nintendo to bring video games back from the grave with a little game called SUPER MARIO BROS”, not ‘Donkey Kong’.

    Donkey Kong came out in 1981 .

  • Pauly

    Video Games.

    ’nuff said.

  • mordechaimordechai

    Virtual boy was super cool. saw it on Pawn Stars

  • Baer321

    How many giant crabs attacked Japan throughout history? LOTS! Come on, Godzilla and it’s fellow creature features were documentaries.

  • LuvsHorror

    I loved the Super Mario Brothers movie!
    Also, the wii mote gave me permanent tendinitis in my right bicep. I don’t play anymore.

  • Dan

    “We can assure you that this game is 100% accurate to the life and time of feudal Japan. Now look at this giant crab!”

  • Game Player

    I probably would’ve posted Steve Jobbs being named Most Influential Man in Video Games or maybe I would’ve mentioned movie license games. Hell, movies based on games could’ve made this entire list. Mario, Double Dragon, Legend of Chun Li, Mortal Combat…

    Anyway, good list, just a bit too basic.

  • Trolololol

    Am I the only one who thought “Zero Wing” should have been on this list? “All your base are belong to us?”

    Although beloved in some response a huge “Egg on Face” for translators of the game. So big so that it helped spawn an internet phenom known as “Meme”s?

    Otherwise, good job, I liked the list for the most part, I was just expecting to see Zero Wing on this list

  • iciaanderson

    Great List!

  • Osten

    What about Xbox first gen with a failrate of 53%?

  • Jack

    Hmm what about the failure rate of the xbox 360 ? Thats not embarrassing ?

  • Tatiana

    “it was entirely the fault of the remotes’ users for not using it safely with the remote’s safety strap.”


  • ibra

    follow this link to sell & buy or rent

  • equitus

    I recall SimCopter, which could import SimCity 2000 cities for flying around in 3D doing missions. When you landed the copter and got out, there would be a crowd of citizens. About 1 out of every 5 citizens was a shirtless buff guy that would hit on you. Apparently, from what I heard, there was a disgruntled gay engineer who slipped this into the release version.

    I suppose it would be more embarrassing if SimCopter were more popular.

    • Gary

      I think Robby the Robot should be on this list. Due to the fact that I never seen it actually work.

  • brian

    Don’t people edit these lists….almost everyone contains errors

  • Fluids
  • Reblogged this on tanga5.

  • Batman

    You forgot the XBOX’s “red ring of death” cause millions of XBOX players to lose money buying/repairing them repeatitly

  • Kate J.

    Giant Enemy CRAB.

  • WesInNY

    What about the Gizmodo? It tried! Well, and died. I know there’s a crate in a warehouse somewhere with new ones still in a box. They would make a great “Retro” toy.

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  • Hayden

    Why was ET such a huge flop for atari? Ive never heard of it so now im all curious

  • T.J.

    Xbox red ring of death anyone?