Controversial Cover Art

The image below is the cover art for a game called ‘Borderlands’ which is to be released soon. It has stirred up mixed feelings in people.


The previous theory lesson about ethics and morals made me wonder if there are any set in stone rules about what you can and can’t put in advertising. This proved difficult to find which I found weird. All I could find was a long list of what was not acceptable to put into advertising on ‘’, however I think these might be slightly different rules to what applies to games as a few games out there have already ‘broken’ some of the rules laid down. Such as this –

  • Advertising that promotes firearms or weapons of any kind is not allowed.
Suffering and violence
  • Advertising that advocates, glorifies, or promotes rape, torture, cannibalism, suffering, or death, or that displays graphic or violent images is not allowed.”

This cover although not doing it in the obvious way shows suicide and violence with the guy raising his sword and the other firing his gun. The main controversy coming from the guy with his fingers against his head and the splat coming out behind him.I found an interview with the games developer, Randy Pitchford. He said –

“The motive is about the goals of a box cover – you want to evoke something, get attention and have something honest to say about the promise of the game so that you’re confident whatever you’re doing up front, you can gratify your customer with what is inside.”

He goes on -“It’s certainly an extremely provocative image for a box cover and I think some will call it controversial,” Pitchford said. “Certainly there were some people inside of Gearbox and likely also at 2k that weren’t sure about this approach and may have felt compelled to go with something a little less provocative.”

“In conversations I had with Christoph Hartmann, President of 2k Games, it was really clear to me that he really believed in the value of the risks we were taking with the game and how it pushed things forward and he really was eager to push things with the box cover as well,” he added.Pitchford admitted this was by far the most bold cover art he’s ever been involved with, and is satisfied with the response he’s seen from fans so far.”Judging from the response so far, it looks like it was the right call,” he said.

It makes me really glad that we’re in a world now where gamers want freshness and originality and people like us are being rewarded and applauded for taking risks and pushing things and that is certainly what I see happening with Borderlands.”

Personally I think the cover art is amazing and well executed, no pun intended. I totally agree with the part that I have put in bold and couldn’t wish this way of thinking on other mediums and their censorship organizations enough.

Do you find this box art offensive enough to make you want it banned? Please leave your opinions in the comments and vote in the poll!



Filed under Theory

2 responses to “Controversial Cover Art

  1. Jamie

    the only thing i don’t like about the cover is the type face and background.

  2. Tom Barden

    i just dont get it lol a lot of violent games advertise this violence on their covers, advertising agencies are slacking 🙂 and its awesome they are! i bet the pun was intended 😛 btw i voted that it SHOULDN’T be banned cos yea it is an awesome cover

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