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  1. #1

    PSP, PS2 & Wii may receive the first permanently rated AO console game ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by GamePolitics
    MORE Bad News for Rockstar: Wii-mote Control Prompts Demand That Manhunt 2 Be Adults-Only in North America

    This just in from Take Two Interactive, publisher of the embattled Manhunt 2:

    "The ESRB has issued an initial rating of AO (Adults Only) for Manhunt 2.

    We believe the process of rating videogames is to help people make informed entertainment choices and not to limit them.

    Manhunt 2 was created for mature audiences and we strongly believe it should receive an M (Mature) rating, aligning it with similar content created in other forms of media. We are exploring our options with regard to the rating of Manhunt 2."

    Beyond that, T2 isn’t talking. It is unknown exactly when the AO was assigned to Manhunt 2, but it would have to have been less than 30 days ago, based on earlier comments by ESRB president Patricia Vance.

    GP: For a video game publisher, the economic impact of an AO rating cannot be overstated. It means that major retailers like Wal-mart, which by itself accounts for about 25% of retail games sales, will not carry Manhunt 2. There is an appeal process available to game pubilshers who wish to dispute rating assignments.
    Quote Originally Posted by IGN
    Manhunt 2 on Wii and PlayStation 2 has been banned after the British Board of Film Classification refused to give the game a rating due to its "unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone... which constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing".

    Speaking about the ban, BBFC director David Cooke director said that to issue a certificate to Manhunt 2 "would involve a range of unjustifiable harm risks, to both adults and minors, within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, and accordingly that its availability, even if statutorily confined to adults, would be unacceptable to the public".

    He went on to explain that it was a decision that hadn't been taken lightly and normally the board would "try to consider cuts or, in the case of games, modifications which remove the material that contravenes the BBFC's guidelines." However, because the violent themes run so deeply throughout the game the BBFC couldn't recommend cuts that would allow Manhunt 2 a UK release, although Rockstar does have the right to appeal against the decision.

    Cooke said: "Manhunt 2 is distinguishable from recent high-end video games by its unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone in an overall game context which constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing. There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged, in the game."

    The ban may come as a suprise to some, considering the original Manhunt game - which courted much controversy and also featured violent themes and brutal killings - was given an 18 certificate by the BBFC in 2003. However, David Cooke said that the sequel couldn't be viewed in the same context. "The game's unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying and the sheer lack of alternative pleasures on offer to the gamer, together with the different overall narrative context, contribute towards differentiating this submission from the original Manhunt game," he explained.

    Carmaggedon is the only other videogame to be refused classification by the BBFC. The ban was overturned in 1997 after publisher SCi and developer Stainless Games appealed against the decision and the humans - which you ran over in the game - were replaced with zombies to make the experience less visceral and offensive.

    Rockstar has yet to comment on the ban despite several attempts to contact them. We'll keep you updated with further developments throughout the day.
    To date there has only been one other released home console game (PC games are a seperate matter) to receive an AO rating (although only briefly) by the ESRB. That game was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, whose M rating was briefly changed to an AO rating amidst the brief "Hot Coffee" incident. It was quickly reverted back to an M rating though after Rockstar simultaneously recalled the older versions of the game while re-releasing a new version of the game with all signs of the deleted mini-game now fully removed from the game's programming.

    The Playstation game Thrill Kill was also issued an AO rating, but that game was cancelled before its release.
    Last edited by Lord Malakite; 06-19-2007 at 10:19 PM.
    Rogue Squadron-19 Golds, Battle For Naboo-18 Platinums, Rogue Leader-15 Golds/15 Aces, Rebel Strike-19 Single Golds/19 Single Aces
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  2. #2
    Honestly, I'm of mixed feelings on this - even for teenagers the first game was a bit much for those still developing their worldview and sensibilities to engage in. At the same time, that title didn't receive an AO rating, and I haven't heard anything about this one that suggests it's severely worse. But just because the ratings board made a questionable decision - one that might even be viewed as a mistake - once doesn't mean it has to again simply for consistency. At the end of the day, I think this deserves a fair hearing, but if it's deemed an Adults Only grade, it may not be unsurprising or unreasonable.

    That said, Sony being unwilling to release it for the PS2 in the US is ludicrous, their policy of no-AO titles is stupid. Nintendo has a different audience to concern themselves with since they market specifically to kids and parents. But Sony's PS2 is a console marketed specifically to older gamers, so banning the title to appease a very small minority of parents so thoroughly concerned about what MIGHT appear on someone ELSE'S Playstation is tantamount to censorship.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "We named the dog 'Chewbacca'!"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  3. #3
    I can see Rockstar taking two routes with this. The first is to file an appeal to the ESRB and BBFC arguing the game was unfairly rated AO (banned) and should be reconsidered as being rated M. The second option would be to retool the game to tone down the violence, which I estimate will delay the game's release by at least 6 months to a year easily (changing it won't be quite as easy as removing some unused game code like it was with the Hot Coffee thing). Either way Rockstar is going to take a beating. There is also an unwanted third option, either can the game or to move it to PC as a last resort.

    Its a shame too. I've heard much praise about this game from several sources, especially the Wii's build, which added extra gore and motion based killing to further up the ante (even making it the definitive version in IGN's opinion).
    Rogue Squadron-19 Golds, Battle For Naboo-18 Platinums, Rogue Leader-15 Golds/15 Aces, Rebel Strike-19 Single Golds/19 Single Aces
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  4. #4
    They're already filing an appeal with the ESRB. I think they're screwed with the BBFC though because of the recent church of England Manchester Cathedral debacle with the PS3 game "Resistance: Fall of Man".

    I don't think they should pull a Carmageddon and retool the game to kill zombies instead of people or something, that would obliterate their credibility and essentially ruin the game itself.

    I think if they get stuck with the AO rating, Sony should pull their heads out of the sand and release it through alternative retail options, and ramp up the controversy into the mainstream to get people interested in checking it out. The downside is that will also get kids' attention, but rating anything "M" or "AO" automatically does that and it's parents' jobs to keep their kids from playing those games.

    I sincerely doubt the Wii version will ever be released, maybe in foreign market which will make it an underground import, but maybe not even then, it's likely doomed on that platform.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "We named the dog 'Chewbacca'!"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  5. #5
    There is a thing in Psychology called the "Law of Exposure" meaning that what you choose to expose your mind to is directly related to your actions. In other words: garbage in, garbage out.

    That being said, I don't think this kind of game should EVER be released, because it seems to only promote illegal activity. If the only goal of this game is to brutally murder people in cold blood, then banning it is not really censorship. Murder is immoral and illegal, thus anything promoting murder should be considered illegal and immoral as well.

    If someone produced a game where your only goal was to molest children, shoot homosexuals or set black people on fire, would you consider those as "freedom of speech?" I wouldn't.
    Last edited by bigbarada; 06-26-2007 at 06:53 AM. Reason: typos

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by bigbarada View Post
    There is a thing in Psychology called the "Law of Exposure" meaning that what you choose to expose your mind to is directly related to your actions. In other words: garbage in, garbage out.
    I don't know If i buy into that fully. I own films with lots of violence in them ranging from zombie films to sci fi action flicks (episode III included). Does that mean i'm going to run outside and start shooting people? No. Folks need to stop looking for scapegoats when things go wrong. Anybody who is going to be directly influenced by a game already has some sort of psychological problem anyway and a game shouldn't be to blame cos by that logic that means because of the violence scene in "Revenge of the Sith" with Order 66 and Palply killing Mace, i'm going to run outside and start killing people. Give me a break.

    That being said, I don't think this kind of game should EVER be released, because it seems to only promote illegal activity. If the only goal of this game is to brutally murder people in cold blood, then banning it is not really censorship. Murder is immoral and illegal, thus anything promoting murder should be considered illegal and immoral as well.
    Great, i'm happy that you don't think it should be released. Now, what about those of us who think differently? Just because there are those who don't think the game should be released doesn't mean that it shouldn't. Those folks who don't want to buy the game shouldn't buy it if it's released and those folks who want to buy it should have the option to purchase it. Plain and simple really.

    If someone produced a game where your only goal was to molest children, shoot homosexuals or set black people on fire, would you consider those as "freedom of speech?" I wouldn't.
    I think you're kind of stretching things here. Violence is a part of every day life from films to music to video games even to the Star Wars universe. It's a video game where pixalted people stab, shoot and kill each other. What's the big deal?? And why all of sudden is this going on now where violence has been in games for over a decade? I think you're being overdramatic with that sentence.
    "Woke up at 9.55am. Soon as I woke up, I looked at Suzanne and she looked at me. I said, 'Did I tell you about the immune system?' Suzanne starting laughing, I said, 'it's amazing.' She said, 'Not now.'"

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by bigbarada View Post
    There is a thing in Psychology called the "Law of Exposure" meaning that what you choose to expose your mind to is directly related to your actions. In other words: garbage in, garbage out.
    Then call me garbage, because I was looking forward to this game.
    Rogue Squadron-19 Golds, Battle For Naboo-18 Platinums, Rogue Leader-15 Golds/15 Aces, Rebel Strike-19 Single Golds/19 Single Aces
    James Boba Fettfield & Lord Malakite's Video Game Collection

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jedi_Master_Guyute View Post
    I think you're being overdramatic with that sentence.
    My statement is overdramatic, but cold-blooded murder isn't? That's exactly what this game is trying to sell. The fact that you don't see it as a big deal is really just evidence that it's affecting you and you just don't see it yet. Not saying that you're going to turn into a murderer, but the desensitization to murder is already taking effect.

    It's quite simple really, if you only eat Big Macs and drink soda do you really expect to be able to run in a 5k marathon? Of course not! Because we all understand that what foods we put in our bodies have a direct impact on our health. Why wouldn't it be the same with our minds?

    You say that violence is a part of everyday life, but I have never witnessed a murder, an armed robbery or a high speed police chase. Never seen a drive by shooting or a gang rape. Where I live, you don't even need to lock your doors at night. In fact, when I lived in New Mexico it was the same situation.

    So, I don't really agree with the rationalization that since we are surrounded by violent crimes, then it is okay to create video games that reward violent crimes.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by bigbarada View Post
    My statement is overdramatic, but cold-blooded murder isn't? That's exactly what this game is trying to sell.
    As do many other games (and other forms of entertainment) once you get right down to it. I just look at video games such as this as an interactive virtual play in which the gamer is both the audience and the actor roled into one.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigbarada View Post
    So, I don't really agree with the rationalization that since we are surrounded by violent crimes, then it is okay to create video games that reward violent crimes.
    And the same could be said of books, movies and television that glorify violent crimes.
    Rogue Squadron-19 Golds, Battle For Naboo-18 Platinums, Rogue Leader-15 Golds/15 Aces, Rebel Strike-19 Single Golds/19 Single Aces
    James Boba Fettfield & Lord Malakite's Video Game Collection

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by bigbarada View Post
    There is a thing in Psychology called the "Law of Exposure" meaning that what you choose to expose your mind to is directly related to your actions. In other words: garbage in, garbage out.
    That's ridiculously oversimplified, I played GTA: Vice City and San Andreas nearly every day for a year, yet I've never struck anybody or shot anybody or injured anybody in any way, AND I had a great time playing the game. The "law of exposure" isn't a psychological axiom, it's from a book called "Boundries" by Henry Cloud and John Townsend (who are clinical psychologists, but that doesn't make it a widespread "law").

    That being said, I don't think this kind of game should EVER be released, because it seems to only promote illegal activity. If the only goal of this game is to brutally murder people in cold blood, then banning it is not really censorship. Murder is immoral and illegal, thus anything promoting murder should be considered illegal and immoral as well.
    That is in fact the very definition of censorship, there is nothing illegal about fictional murder or anything else illegal in this country, it is not promoting murder of any kind beyond the fantasy universe in which it takes place, so banning it based on something that is not illegal is indeed censorship. The game does not require that you go out and actually kill people, it is a fantasy - one you and I may find distasteful, but there is nothing actively harmful to us about someone else engaging in that fiction, if that weren't the case, we'd already be dead based on the sheer volume of players of Manhunter 1 or the thousands of other video games which encourage the player to kill all around them without mercy.

    If someone produced a game where your only goal was to molest children, shoot homosexuals or set black people on fire, would you consider those as "freedom of speech?" I wouldn't.
    Yes, I'd find them distasteful to the extreme and as a consumer I would actively not support them, but they have the right to say anything they want. That is what "freedom of speech" means, it means people can say things without fear of legal reprisal from those who don't agree with it. This does not differ depending on the medium, we don't ban books in this country based on their content even if they ask the reader to put him or herself in the place of the main character of the book, so video games are no different.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigbarada View Post
    My statement is overdramatic, but cold-blooded murder isn't? That's exactly what this game is trying to sell.
    Whom is being murdered by this game, who is this game encouraging consumers to murder in the real world? That's a knee-jerk reaction, you are not separating the fiction from reality because the idea bothers you, but they are separate concepts entirely and clinical test have shown that fantasy violence in video games does not equate violence in the real world, there is an undeniable difference there because otherwise gamers would have gone on killing sprees years ago and we'd either all be dead at the hands of fat, sweaty teenagers or they'd be in jail and video games would be outlawed.

    The fact that you don't see it as a big deal is really just evidence that it's affecting you and you just don't see it yet. Not saying that you're going to turn into a murderer, but the desensitization to murder is already taking effect.
    By that logic, Star Wars should be banned just as quickly, there's so much death that it's almost ridiculous. The first movie has a planet blown up and we barely bat an eye at this, Han Solo shoots a person not 4 feet away from him and walks away without us being fazed. Princess Leia is a crack shot and kills stormtroopers constantly, even though they're people. The prequels have heroes killing left and right, Anakin Skywalker kills toddlers, does that mean by watching ROTS you're that much more likely to kill toddlers? No, of course not.

    It's quite simple really, if you only eat Big Macs and drink soda do you really expect to be able to run in a 5k marathon? Of course not! Because we all understand that what foods we put in our bodies have a direct impact on our health. Why wouldn't it be the same with our minds?
    But it's not the ONLY thing that affects us, it's not taken in a vacuum. If you eat only Big Macs and soda for every meal but you are still training for that marathon constantly, you're going to feel adverse effects from the poor quality of food yet you're still going to be able to run it better than someone who eats healthily but doesn't train.

    You say that violence is a part of everyday life, but I have never witnessed a murder, an armed robbery or a high speed police chase. Never seen a drive by shooting or a gang rape. Where I live, you don't even need to lock your doors at night. In fact, when I lived in New Mexico it was the same situation.
    That's a fantasy though, no matter where you live, there is crime somewhere, we just don't see it as being close enough or common enough to affect us. I used to live in Glendale, Arizona, where it was a pleasant and safe suburb of Phoenix, yet at the supermarket where I worked at the time I saw the supposed good-guys, our security guards, haul in a homeless guy and crack him across the head for nothing more than attempting to steal a bottle of booze - how is that just, how is that not a crime? But folks viewed it as acceptable even though it goes staunchly against both our own justice system and the classic "eye for an eye" rule. And might I point out that in the '90s, Phoenix AZ was the child abuse capital of the country despite being a seemingly safe and idyllic city.


    My ultimate point is that it's about perceptions of realities: as a fully-formed, responsible, mature adult I can view fiction and even participate in it without greatly suffering its negative effects or reenacting the negative actions taken within it. And why? Because I can separate fantasy from reality. There's nothing illegal with someone participating in fiction that harms no one else.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "We named the dog 'Chewbacca'!"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

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