Is CSGO really more violent than Rainbow Six?

Posted on September 23, 2019 - Last Updated on February 4, 2021

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Rainbow Six are two of the world’s most popular first-person shooters. But it seems that CS:GO is widely perceived to be more violent than Rainbow Six despite both games featuring guns, bombs and plenty of blood as part of their core appeal.

It’s an issue that could cause problems for the Counter-Strike franchise in the competitive gaming scene, and the game has been labelled as one of the key reasons as to why esports might not feature as an Olympic sport.


An American college recently banned Counter-Strike: Global Offensive from its esports programme. The decision was made after Thomas College in Maine decided that CS:GO was ‘about bombing, terrorism and gun violence.’ The move comes ahead of the college’s 2019 Fall Season tryouts which will now feature Rainbow Six: Siege instead.

Thomas College feature an esports program that includes a variety of games like League of Legends, Overwatch, Rocket League, Fortnite, Magic: The Gathering Arena and Super Smash Brother Ultimate. Counter-Strike Global: Offensive is one of the world’s most popular esports, but will not be included as a result of the gaming content which ‘doesn’t lend itself well to the academic space.’


The college’s decision to replace CS:GO with another first-person shooter, Rainbow Six, may have raised a few eyebrows. But Thomas College said that they made the decision as Rainbow Six has ‘more visible strategic elements.’

There has already been plenty of heated debate on Twitter about the decision to exclude CSGO. While both games feature lots of guns, it is thought that Counter Strike’s use of the words ‘terrorists’ and ‘counter-terrorists’ in the gameplay might be causing problems. This is opposed to Rainbow Six’s more politically-safe terminology of ‘attackers’ and ‘defenders’.

Recently we saw President Trump laying the blame for gun violence in the USA on the current video game culture. Although some of the people behind recent mass shootings had played games like Counter Strike, Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, there has been no conclusive proof that video games cause real-life violence. Despite this, Thomas College have decided that the content of Counter Strike is just too politically sensitive to be included in their esports program.

However, it’s worth mentioning that the National Association of Collegiate Esports currently supports the first-person shooter and had their first Counter Strike tournament earlier this year. Thomas College are part of this association and it seems as though they could miss out on the CSGO contest should it return next year.


It comes at a time when Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is proving to be relentlessly popular in the US competitive gaming scene. Recently, we have seen American esports organisations like Team Liquid winning the Intel Grand Slam, and NRG Esports joined Liquid in the Champions Stage at the recent StarLadder Berlin Major. In comparison, Rainbow Six is still lagging far behind in terms of popularity in esports.


The main CSGO contests were watched by millions of people all over the world, but the game’s violent content could see it marginalised from mainstream culture. There have been growing calls for esports to be included in a future Olympic Games, but concerns about in-game violence have meant that plans have been sidelined.

Even if competitive gaming does find mainstream acceptance, it will probably be through games that are considered ‘safe’. This means that sports simulators and fighting games like Street Fighter V could be seen as being more palatable to mainstream tastes than a game like Counter-Strike. Plus with Rainbow Six being seen as being less controversial, it seems that the there’s a new kind of battle for dominance between these two first-person shooters. 

Featured image courtesy of Valve Corporation 

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