If Swearing Makes You Stronger, These Are the Toughest Games Ever

Screaming an f-bomb while hauling all that heavy shit really does make it easier. Which makes ‘Mafia II’ the champion weightlifter of video games.

by Mike Diver
May 5 2017, 6:03pm

'Mafia II' screenshot courtesy of 2K.

Good news, for those of us who get colorful with our vocal expressions of physical exertion—science now says that swearing makes you stronger. Because of course it fucking does, we've known this for fucking years, you fucking jerks. (And so on.)

But seriously: as reported by The Guardian, the British Psychological Society has confirmed that screaming an f-bomb or better while pushing your body to do something it really doesn't want to—like take all of these incredibly heavy buckets of bricks and mortar to the tip, darling, on my one and only day off, darling—can temporarily improve your strength.

"There are benefits from swearing," says Keele University psychologist Richard Stephens, after two different studies showed that uttering profanities enabled test subjects to cycle harder and grip onto something stronger and longer. The latter experiment saw those who cursed manage to increase their grip strength by the equivalent of 2.1 kilograms. He admitted, though, that the why was still beyond his peers: "Quite why it is that swearing has these effects on strength and pain tolerance remains to be discovered."

Which, naturally, leads me, allegedly a games writer, to ask himself: Now that this is science, what games are "the strongest" out there, purely because they can't keep their potty mouths shut? (Look, it's Friday, and after the week we've had on both sides of the Atlantic, a little light relief is welcome.) Ergo: let's recall some profanity-peppered games of the recent past. Because why not.

Released in 2010, 2K's Mafia II actually scored a Guinness World Record entry as the most profane video game in (accurately recorded, at least) history. The record was specifically achieved for instances of "fuck", which numbered 200 and more in the 1940s-set open-worlder. That record was previously held by 2006's Scarface: The World Is Yours, which in keeping with the 1983 crime movie that inspired it, represented a richly nourishing buffet of four-letter obscenities.

More recently, in a 2014 history of swearing in games, Kotaku counted over 160 uses of "shit" in Naughty Dog's The Last of Us, as well as 130 "fuck"s. Which might seem extravagant, but if you were about to have your head chewed off by an angry, mushroom-headed monster, you'd want to summon as much strength as possible, too. The Saints Row and Grand Theft Auto series are both positively pebble-dashed in profanities, and misters Kane and Lynch were rarely found wanting for a curse word.

Swears have been played for laughs plenty of times, too—Conker's Bad Fur Day famously turned the air blue on the Nintendo 64 (mercifully doing away with developer Rare's customary gibberish), while South Park: The Stick of Truth was a tangible torrent of f-word effluence, in keeping with its parent television show. And the recently remastered Bulletstorm has a penchant for talking about everyone's dicks, tongue usually in cheek, which puts even the thirstiest nymphomaniac to shame.

So, based on science, these are amongst the strongest video games the world has seen, since Q*Bert first blurted out whatever that seemingly censored thing he's saying actually is. And now that Waypoint has its own forum—seriously, go and check out our forum—this seems a fun topic for a breezy Friday discussion. What is the best use of swearing you've found in a game? Have any gone too far in their appetite for imprecations? Let us know.

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