Manhunt 2, ESRB in senators' crosshairs

Rockstar's latest game has US politicians crossing party lines, proposing Wii games be held to different ratings standards.

The violent-game debate is back on the national stage once more. Just as the controversy over Manhunt 2 appeared as if it might have finally subsided, a group of senators have brought the issue back to the forefront.

The cadre of politicians includes two Democrats, a Republican, and an independent who used to be a Democrat; all of them have previously supported legislation involving games, and all have (or had) presidential aspirations. Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY and current presidential candidate), Joe Lieberman (I-CT, formerly a democrat and candidate for president in 2004, and Al Gore's running mate in the 2000 presidential race), and Evan Bayh (D-IN, who publicly considered a run in 2008 only to opt against it) proposed the Family Entertainment Protection Act to restrict minors' access to violent games. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS and recently withdrawn 2008 presidential candidate) attempted to pass the Truth in Video Game Rating Act, which would have required the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to play through the games it assesses.

Today, the four senators sent a letter to the rating board suggesting that "it may be desirable to revise or enhance the current ESRB rating system." Specifically, they express concern over its rerating of Manhunt 2, which gave the game an M for Mature instead of the original AO for Adults Only. In the letter, the senators note that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) maintained its ban on the game even when presented with the revised edition that received an M from the ESRB.

In addition, they called for a closer look at the ratings on games for Nintendo's Wii, due to the nature of its motion-sensing controller.

"That system permits children to act out each of the many graphic torture scenes and murders in Manhunt 2 rather than simply manipulating a game pad," the senators wrote. "This led one clinical psychologist to state that the realistic motions used with the Wii mean that 'You're basically teaching a child the behavioral sequencing of killing.' While this was not cited as the reason for the BBFC decision, we do believe that the ESRB should take the Wii Remote controller, and future advances in game controllers, which create more realistic gaming environments, into consideration."

The senators then questioned the ratings process and said that the group withholds information from the public and developers about why a game's rating is given or changed. They stated that previous explanations from the ESRB about maintaining confidentiality for unreleased games shouldn't hold any weight once a game is released, and sought more detailed information about the reviewing process.

"In sum, we ask your consideration of whether it is time to review the robustness, reliability, and repeatability of your ratings process, particularly for this genre of 'ultra-violent' video games and the advances in game controllers," the letter reads. "We have consistently urged parents to pay attention to the ESRB rating system. We must ensure that parents can rely on the consistency and accuracy of those ratings."

An ESRB representative confirmed for GameSpot that the letter had been received, and said the board would be responding.

Written By

Want the latest news about Manhunt 2?

Manhunt 2

Manhunt 2

Follow

Discussion

829 comments
delorean529
delorean529

This retarded Family Entertainment Protection Act won't let me play T-games even though my dad said I could. I'm 10 and I believe it is my parents choice to decide what games I can play! I'm not allowed to play Bully because of gay content, dirty pictures the guy has to take) and I'm kinda ok with that. Plus, What kids dont know how to choke or stab?

earth07
earth07

You can really tell there's an election year coming up can't you? Hillary and co. are just jumping on the bandwagon to get more media time. BTW, Manhunt 2 is no longer banned in the UK.

FanboyInDiguise
FanboyInDiguise

Even though what I'm going to say is exactly what the last 42 pages worth of people have just said. It really is down to the parents to even let these sort of games into their household. I find it hypocritical that parents don't seem to mind rated R movies, (Saw, Hostel, Godfather even...) that depict just as if not more violence and sex over the years than games have even come close to, yet will spout off about games till the cows come home. It's the same principle, rated M is equal to rated R, simple as that. So no matter if the ESRB is reformatted, if the parents neglect to govern their own children these games will STILL get into the hands of those who shouldn't have them. But, as with most matters in society today, its all about the blame game. Parents can't be blamed for not watching what their kids are playing, so the blame must go to those who are specifically targeting a mature audience. And politicians (who are always looking for the next vote) feed off such feelings for their next elections. And the cycle continues... *sigh*

CowbellFanatic
CowbellFanatic

I'm all for accurate ratings. I am totally against a rating that doesn't allow the game to be played on any consoles (AO), as well as this continued BS from the government trying to limit our freedoms when it comes to video games. An M rating is the equivalent to an R movie rating. Why do the morons in Washington piss themselves over games like Manhunt and GTA but don't give a hell about movies like Hostel and Saw that kids watch? No matter what stupid laws are passed kids are still going to get their hands on these games and movies. I know I did long before I was seventeen and I have yet to run over a prostitute or even gun someone down. Go figure.

KentTalbert
KentTalbert

How many kids actually play Manhunt?

topraman517
topraman517

How does Manhunt 2 teach you anything? What kid doesn't know how to kill or to torture? It's not like learning how to tie your shoes or anything. And kids aren't supposed to play this game anyway. Most parents are very unlikely to let them.

darkknightdetec
darkknightdetec

What these senators don't get is that the people who are playing Manhunt 2 are supposed to be 17 and older--we're not talking little kids here. I think 17+ rating is appropriate for titles such as these--at that point, a person has matured enough that it won't be one video game that turns them into a serial killer.

kamicolo
kamicolo

As I was reading the article, I tried my best to understand the reasoning behind creating a new ESRB rating system for the Wii. Well, frankly, I can't comprehend it. A game is given its appropriate ESRB game rating, why should it be changed?

Concerning the Wii, and the whole "acting out" part of the fuss...people do learn better by doing. To argue this however, how many of us acted out what we seen on tv when we were younger? I know when I was a snot-nose, I use to act out "American Gladiator" (what a great show that was). In short, kids will act out whatever they see fit - whatever is fun.

Don't worry senators, video games don't create serial killers and other miscreants, people like you who don't spend enough time nurturing and caring for your children does. Don't put your job before your family, heh.

verdugoRE4
verdugoRE4

They know that adults are the main influence for their child's behavior, but instead of realizing so, they blame it on Video Games etc. How pathetic.

ciotog
ciotog

don't blame the game, blame the parents!!

ZeroTae
ZeroTae

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

ZeroTae
ZeroTae

yeah, because if it is rated M children will play, and if it's AO, they wont play... uhuu..... and well... its not a label that will make children not play a game, it is the responsable for them that will restrict the games they should and shouldnt play... ESRB rating is more to inform, the action is the parents/brothers/sisters/cat/dog/the person himself/boyfriend/girlfriend job

attyjace
attyjace

hehehe, so they are in effect saying that the wii is not the "most mainstream" console of the three? That its "general patronage" image is all but a trojan horse because of all three consoles it is the one that "trains homicidal sequences"? wahahahahaha. and i thought our senators here in my country are full of ****

Nackying
Nackying

I'm sure most of these people never played the geme and don't even know what they're talking about.

Rayze78
Rayze78

So do you think this group really cares about the rating system or is it a political agenda? (Like Global Warming for example)

stewie117
stewie117

this is complete bull sh*t when ever bad and violent things happen the government always blames video games. because its never the parents fault they just go out and buy a M rated game for their underaged child and besides gamestores wont sell an M rated game to a 10 year old and they wont sell a T game to a 5 year old

Cloud551
Cloud551

So, Jack Thompson lives on, in the form of politicians...

kurama_fox2000
kurama_fox2000

Why does everyone keep doing all this.."Well the parents should just not let them have it then!" crap. Newsflash: A lot of parents are worthless. There are a lot of parents out there that simply don't care....and that doesn't mean children should be desensitized to the act of killing because of it. No wonder America's violent crime rate is so horrible. Sometimes the government DOES have to step in, and that's that.

Sephiroth36
Sephiroth36

Welcome to the blame game, famous around the world, thats why we have a lot of problems and others have to deal with it. Anyways.... I think this is not about changing the Ratings for games or what ever they are thinking about. The blame should go the parents house. Since up to date many parents aren't taking responsibility on their children. And in this case the kid will do what ever they want. And the thing is the situation will go in a manipulation game, and the kid starts being the boss of their mother or father, if they cry a lot and scream, the parent will give up and buy that toy that he or she wants. First mistake. Also theres the situation of borrowing money, they go borrow money and disappear to where ever they are going to go or maybe to the mall, and then when they come theres not even control from the parent, not even from the beginning when they ask for money, since the parents may not ask about what they sis with the money, maybe they say they bought a game, and the parent will not ask what is it, and not take action on to what is proper for the child. Also what the parent can do is to search the room of the child and remove any violent games, and set the rules for that matter. But what parents do is sit on their butts and do nothing, and then when something happens they blame it on other people instead on themselves. Also theres the problem with politicians, something is happening in their brains that limit their thinking, or maybe it comes naturally. What they should do is to address the people on what is happening and what they should do. The law will stop your kids and their future will be obliterated but the parents can stop them before ruining their life on crimes, guide them and it will prevent something bad in the future. Thats why around in the world, everywhere, if kids aren't shown the right way and not to hurt others, then wars, terrorism, crimes wouldn't be much of a problem. It all about influence and power.

lathan94
lathan94

omg, just dont buy your kids manhunt 2 who the hell would do that.. And the wii motions are not even realistic they are more like just moving your remote in a direction.

Visnovsky17
Visnovsky17

i say the responsibility lies with parents. if they don't want kids playing mature rated games don't let them have it. unless they're in the mid-teens (close to 17) you can pretty easily tell if they aren't old enough, so the stores can enforce it. (i even got carded at best buy once) if you don't care about what you're kids are playing then fine. i don't think games teach or produce violent behavior. these guys are just trying to get attention buy showing the "care" about what games kids are playing. politics needs to stay out of gaming that's my opinion.

zcds
zcds

id like to see the new raitings because we all know it's gonna be so bad it's funny.

leinad791
leinad791

This is what is wrong with our country. No one seems to want to take responsibility anymore. Instead, they blame it on someone (or something) else. In this case, its the video games...but of course it isn't the parents fault.

bigdogg1
bigdogg1

oy, it would sure be nice if these politicians knew what they were talking about. i would take them more seriously if they actually played the games that they're, apparently, concerned about. and, you know, i'm not a political person, but i know for sure that video games should be the last thing politicians should be worried about.

EE2lemmonhead
EE2lemmonhead

whoever lets a child play manhunt is an idiot. besides, us PC gamers have had motion control for years, you dont see us learning "behavioral killing sequences" do you?

Huxxar
Huxxar

i say better in the house than on the streets. i mean really IF it actually does teach children that stuff isn't it better they do it right then accidently stab somebody the wrong way and have the victim die slowly. it should be the parent's responsibility to not buy the game and if they let their children have it maybe they should get stabbed

GredegHeado-san
GredegHeado-san

So say on the 360, you press A to jab a knife into someone's neck, and then on the Wii, you actually make a jabbing motion. But it's not really helpful training, is it? Like I couldn't figure out how to make a jabbing motion until the Wii told me how to? "Looks like those clowns in congress did it again. What a bunch of clowns."

crazy-hiker-49
crazy-hiker-49

but thats not enough is it? I guess if I wanted to be president I would just have to introduce some new public legislation against video games.

Ol_skool_Gamer
Ol_skool_Gamer

"Family Entertainment Protection Act" For shame! I hope at least some parents in the States feel as though they're intelligence was just insulted.

Vraeth
Vraeth

Maybe if people who actually play videogames were making these sorts of decisions I'd consider it. As it stands though, a lot of these guys are kind of oldsters who think that color TV is new.

BorderX660
BorderX660

I'm tired of reading about **** like this..."ultra violent" my ass. There are very few games that deserve that title. They make it sound like all games are brainwashing kids to become spawn of the devil. Dumbass politicians always have to be pointing fingers at something... "Movies teach our kids that sex is ok!" "Music influences kid's to go out and shoot their schoolmates!" "Video games teach our kids how to kill people!" BULL****. No, no! It's not the dumbass parents who don't give a **** about what their kids do, no! IT'S THE VIDEO GAMES! It's the MUSIC! The MOVIES! Stop making scapegoats and maybe people will start liking you idiots.

TranceKuja925
TranceKuja925

all i have to say is F*** em. they think about this kinda s*** way too much. and besides what kind of little kid is going to play games like Manhunt anyways, and if they do its the parents fault so they should stop being such b****es about it. @BrunoBRS- yeah they pretty much all suck.

BrunoBRS
BrunoBRS

ur american senators suck (at least these ones)... not that the ones from my country r better... anyway this wont change a thing, so whatever.

CobaltJewel1
CobaltJewel1

Y'know, I can definitely agree with the questions regarding why it isn't explained how a game that has been released got it's rating. But still, why the heck would parents give their kids an opportunity to by a game this thing's cover, anyway?

CaRD0N
CaRD0N

Never mind the child soilders in the rest of the World, the wii is what teaches murder!!!

OhhSnap50893
OhhSnap50893

Who would've thought, graphic/violent games are getting Nintendo positive publicity.

shallam
shallam

I'm a parent and a life long gamer. I would not buy my kid Manhunt 2 until they were older (17+) and could handle it. Parents do need to understand what they are buying for their kids But I don't think the game should be banned. I thought the original game, while brutal, was a great game. But I'm an adult. Not a kid. All of this is just politicians trying to score election year points. Ugh.

WINDWAKER1
WINDWAKER1

come on. this is ridiculous. don't blame the parents, they only got the game for the kids....

foxhound_fox
foxhound_fox

Permits children? So they admit that they have to teach parents about what the ratings actually mean? Oh wait... no they didn't, they just *think* they have the right solution to the problem.

stupidonkey34
stupidonkey34

what i really wanna know is y would u make/buy a game where all you do is gruesomely kill people in the first place. I think you have problems already even thinking about buying a game like that. Shooting aliens is one thing but chopping up and brutally murdering people in a video game is just sickening

the_emporer
the_emporer

I see alot of people blaming parents and its true but you have to look at it from a senators points of view, your not going to blame the parents, they have the power to vote, they can make or break your chance of being elected so you look for a scape goat. What better scape goat then the ESRB?

the_emporer
the_emporer

I see alot of people blaming parents and its true but you have to look at it from a senators points of view, your not going to blame the parents, they have the power to vote, they can make or break your chance of being elected so you look for a scape goat. What better scape goat then the ESRB?

4105462786
4105462786

Hmmmm...yup, it's definitely the Wii's controls that make the game worse than it is. The Wii could surely be a training device for killers. Just like light-gun games in the arcades teach kids how to aim a gun and shoot people. When are they going to give it a rest. If a kid is messed up to begin with, he/she's going to be violent without the help of violent games.

papapavvv
papapavvv

If the rating is M (17+), why children plays it...? Isn't to the parents' decision to chose if their kids can play violent games?

DaniLider
DaniLider

"That system permits children to act out each of the many graphic torture scenes and murders in Manhunt 2 rather than simply manipulating a game pad," 'You're basically teaching a child the behavioral sequencing of killing.' There's the proof the Wii is for kids =) No teenagers, no adults, children and child. This is cientific fact people! Don't argue with the facts! =P

Ahp12
Ahp12

Nintendo Wii: $249 Manhunt 2 : $60 Having your child grow up as a merciless murderer: Priceless

stupidonkey34
stupidonkey34

Im not sure if insanityman can read but this is about 4 senators writing a letter (including Hillary Clinton) and not Bush.......... >.> and its totally parents faults btw

YusukeUnleashed
YusukeUnleashed

do they realize that the best commercial that manhunt 2 has gotten was due to their perpetual complaining? This game has been in the spot light thanks to them and has probably helped them sell copies if anything. Not to mention that publicity was completely free for rockstar. Good job hurting your own cause Politicians!