Manhunt 2 victim of politics, claims ex-ELSPA chief

Upon first word that sale of Rockstar Games' "unremittingly bleak" and "casually sadistic" Manhunt 2 would be illegal on the British Isles, Paul Jackson, current director of UK games association ELSPA, issued a statement hailing the move and claiming the decision proves the UK has a ratings system...

by

Upon first word that sale of Rockstar Games' "unremittingly bleak" and "casually sadistic" Manhunt 2 would be illegal on the British Isles, Paul Jackson, current director of UK games association ELSPA, issued a statement hailing the move and claiming the decision proves the UK has a ratings system that is "effective." Questioning this sentiment, former ELSPA director Roger Bennett sees the decision as quite the opposite.

In an editorial posted on MCV earlier today, Bennett called out the British Board of Film Classification's ruling on several points. First and foremost, Bennett claims the BBFC operates under a "flawed assumption" that because games are interactive, they are somehow different than other forms of visual entertainment. According to Bennett, there's no evidence to support this mentality, and it is only due to outside influences that games are "becoming increasingly and wholly unjustifiably separated from other forms of screen entertainment."

Bennett goes on to say that the BBFC's decision was influenced by politics. He sees the government as being too heavily influenced by events that in no way pertain to the game industry. In turn, pressure from the media causes these officials to advocate narrow-minded and "ignorant" opinions without direct knowledge of the topic or legitimate facts to support their position.

In closing, Bennett takes the industry-standard position of questioning whether it's a good idea to deprive adults the right to make their own informed judgments on what is appropriate for themselves or their children.

Discussion

39 comments
Jaeme
Jaeme

Of course we are all in favour of free speech and of course we adults should have the right to watch or play whatever we wish. Of course if every parent were like me and played through (from start to finish) every game their child plays before they get to see it we would have less problems (I hope) with half educated flunkies trying to get an extra vote out of the guaranteed 100% clue free sections of our society, but there is one very important part to this debate that everyone seems to be missing. Simply because we CAN play through a photo realistic rape scene doesn`t mean we should, and just because it is possible to render a person being disemboweled then losing a vertebra by a pair of wire cutters doesn`t mean we need to. Do we need this game at all or is this just another Tobal 2 type debate where we want it because some functionary says we can`t. Games are art, there is no doubt in my mind in the least, but just because the medium is an important art form doesn`t mean that everything in that medium is automatically art. Not every envelope needs to be pushed. Do we really need to give function to the laughable term "Murder Simulator" by putting one up for sale? I`m not in the least suggesting that we return to the days of the Hickman Rule or the time when an artist was required to prove the artistic merit of his piece to prevent it from being banned but I am asking whether we really need this sort of game in the first place, and whether the gaming industry needs this game`s controversy going into an already IQ lite election campaign in the US. I am 100% against censorship in any form, but I wonder if we aren`t barking up the wrong tree on this one. While the game has been "effectively" banned here in the west because of the platforms it`s on it is in fact still a saleable commodity. It is in fact banned because of poor decision making on the part of the publishers and developer. They knew they were pushing the edge of the AO rating yet chose to put the game on platforms that they knew would never allow an AO titles release. Had they put it on PC and Mac it would be on store shelves right now{and be being screamed about for a different reason}. Its hardly censorship when its your own fault. As for the ban in the UK, that is a different matter for the citizens of that country to sort out through the various means at their disposal. If they feel they need more "casual sadism" and the reruns of "Friends" aren`t sufficient then perhaps they can rally to the cause if they see fit.

DEMONiAM
DEMONiAM

Why not put out an MA rated version for retail, and have a AO rated game for sale online, through the mfgrs website?

lamprey263
lamprey263

Germany banned Mortal Kombat, like all of them (even the newer ones), because of violence. I can understand banning the first, because it caused a lot of angry mothers to bash that game. But everybody stopped caring by MK2 and on. Heck, the SNES MK2 had blood and the original MK2 fatalities (remember the first MK on SNES used sweat instead of blood and edited the fatalities to be dull); that shows just how much people stopped caring by the first sequel... but not Germany. And to think by now there's lots of worse stuff than the MK series for Germany to think about, though, they only stopped the original Manhunt from being released because of the use of Nazi's (and it's illegal to depict unconstitutional organizations without any artistic need). Which leaves me going "WTF?!". What a better way to separate yourself from your ugly past than by allowing your own citizens to grotesquely murder skinheads in a predatory act of self defense. Second, video games are art, and I think it's about time they realize that.

Cloud737
Cloud737

Finally, someone with a brain to think with it! :D I was starting to wonder if all the most important figures in the world were idiots. This guy has my support and approval. :D I completely agree to what he says. To tell you the truth, I feel that, if I lived in the UK, the BBFC would deny my constitutional right to freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of choice, you name it. It`s like if I want to play this game, the BBFC comes in and say "I`m sorry, but we won`t allow you to play this game just cause we want so". Isn`t that a major violation, done by non other than a government institute? So why the heck doesn`t any government official or media say anything about this? Are almost all people retarded and blind these days?

TTDog
TTDog

The BBFC were never going to give this a certificate after all the stirring by Keith Vaz (MP known for jumping on any bandwagon that will get him in the public eye, see also the Big Brother racism row he stuck his oar in on) after that kid got murdered, even though the game was owned by the victim and there was no evidence that the killer had even seen the game, it still got blamed for the whole episode.

nynthninja
nynthninja

powerframe8- i dont think you know what the term "cult classic" means GTA is their mainstream i feel Manhunt 2 was a sequel only for the fans of the first one

mkurts
mkurts

Isn't that really obvious ? Stupid people = Politics = Anti-Gaming = Retard People have a right to this stuff, and it is not up to a bunch of senile morons to determine what their rights are. Anyone who does not understand that is an idiot.

dcgames
dcgames

It's not even about freedom of expression. It's about the simple fact does a game degenerate type of games

GrgSpunk
GrgSpunk

It's about time someone said "NO" to this sort of crap.

diablobasher
diablobasher

And anyone who wants to help petition to get the game rated, and therefore legaly saleable in the UK, as well as restricting the BBFC's powers so that artistic expression may never be censored. Sign this http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/release-manhunt-2-in-the-uk.html (You can't delete this one for being off topic gamespot, this is the one most on-topic place i could put it)

diablobasher
diablobasher

Manhunt 2 a victim of politics? Wow, now why don't you point out something that we have all known since the release of the first manhunt game and then maybe i'll be impressed. Seriously, everybody knows that the only reason this game has been unrated/banned/etc, is because the govt dont want to have to deal with the hassle of the inevitable tide of parents looking to shift the blame after they let there kids have it and someone gets murdered again (even though that had absolutely nothing to do with manhunt anyway, and even if it did, it was the mothers fault for letting a 14 year old own it when it's illegal to sell 18 rated games to younger people)

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

I am of course old enough to play Manhunt 2...whether it's rated M or AO. And I would be completely appauled by someone letting their kids play it.. However, I find it EXTREMELY bothersome that I am not allowed to make my OWN PERSONAL desision to play the game. I live in the states and thankfully I can do what I want, but I still think it's WRONG for the British government to completely CENSOR the public from having any access to playing the game at all. How is the ratings system "effective"?!?!?! It's telling people what they can or cannot watch and do! I would NEVER let any kids play the game, but if someone my age wants to, I have NO problem with that...unless they're totally messed up or something. :P But yeah....BOOOOOOOO on you censorship!!!!! Release Manhunt 2! I want to play it!

VegetaMaelstrom
VegetaMaelstrom

The US, Britain, Germany and Australia should just build a gigantic bubble that is completely separated from the outside world. Every parent who thinks that they have to "protect their children" from unspeakable horrors like video games, violence on television, rap music and shock jocks on the radio can place their kids in this bubble to be raised in an ultra politically correct way until they turn 18. No swearing,no tv or internet, no rough housing and absolutely no mention of anything remotely approaching sexual in nature. Then these 18 year old adults will be released into the real world to fend for themselves without having experienced and learned what life is actually all about. Is this what parents want? Or do they want the opportunity and responsibility to raise their own children with a balance of good morals and decency to offset the hardships of life. I don't know about the rest of you but I am grateful for the chance to make my own decisions about what games, movies, food etc. are right for me as opposed to being a brainwashed, politically correct zombie like some of our politicians and ratings boards would like us to grow up to become.

ERoBB
ERoBB

Most gamers are between the ages of 18-25. Why are we catering to little kids who might see the cover of this game on a store shelf?? They wont be able to buy it, unless a stupid parent does, in which case its their fault. An M warning should be enough...if not, blame the parents not the game.

madmike73
madmike73

Another slap in the face to freedom of expression. Outright banning of a game is a failure of the system not a success. This is simply politicians making it look like they are doing something constructive while limiting peoples freedom of speech.

hokies1313
hokies1313

Glad someone from inside the industry is finally speaking out about this, the censorship of games is getting to be highly annoying and worrisome, when did I give over my right to choose what is good for me and what isn't?

powerframe8
powerframe8

Oh Rockstar, it's as if you intentionaly made this game bad-ass to get huge coverage on the game... without having to pay for ads. Funny how along time ago, it was supposed to be released for August. Then it magically changed to July 10th. I'm thinking August was always the intended date, and they just put all that crap to make it "AO worthy" to get all the attention. This way, when/if it DOES go down to an M rating, people will know about the game and buy it (in August). But that might just be my desperate hope.

malmeid2
malmeid2

they should be able to release whatever they want. there are definitely worse movies out there than this game. TCM:Beginning, SAW 1 2 3, Hostel 1 2, anyone? Even though the first Manhunt sucked ass the second one still has a right to suck ass next to all the other games on shelves.

JamesL007
JamesL007

No game, video or music disc should ever be banned in the US or anywhere, if you choose to buy it and read it, play it, or watch it , that is your right as a individual to choose to do that. I feel like the game industry is been under attack so much it is not funny, but than again so was music in the mid to late 80's. I feel that people today do not remember what it means to have freedom of speech and expression anymore, I feel bad for people who want to ban things because they feel people can't make informed decisions for themselfs and that is sad. Banning does only one thing and that is make people want it more than before, so in fact you generate for press for them than they needed so in fact it back fires on you for banning it instead of releasing it. I mean more people know about Manhunt 2 than before. I truely support both the ESRB and Rockstar / Take-Two all the way infact I support all the gaming industry developers. One way or another this game will be released and I for one can't wait for it, I look forward to playing it and enjoying every minute of it Thank YOu all who have support Manhunt 2 and Rockstar games by signing the petitions online for without you there is no gaming industry so stand up for this industry it is in fact your industry you help make.

AceCometh
AceCometh

This guy has obviously never seen the episode of the Simpsons where Maggy tried to kill Homer, and the Itchy & Scratchy show was canceled from excessive violence. Games do have an affect on the mind, but only on those who are likely to do that kind of crazy stuff anyways. As entertaining as Manhunt 2 probably is, it's just plain sick and belongs in a drawer of long forgotten ideas and lost forever.

LordLeckie
LordLeckie

I really wish that more people would support the industry this way, and as for those who say that being interactive make it worse than say saw then you should know that another study done has turned up opposite results saying that it helps the brain distinguish between real and fake.

johnbonham1980
johnbonham1980

I personally feel very strongly that the game should be available to those that choose to play it, but I'm firmly in the camp that believes that if you're nuts, you're nuts, and if you weren't going crazy playing Manhunt (or GTA, or etc.) you'd be going nuts watching Hostel or Saw, or going nuts torturing stray cats or whatever... I for one don't find Manhunt style games enjoyable, mostly because of the stealth and I just get a real oogy feeling ... It's amazing how, as time goes on, things that at one point seemed over the top become something which people laugh at when they look at the history of protests. Music is a great example.... When Jazz was gaining wide popularity, there were groups blaming all sorts of morality issues on the music (some group in NYC in about 1920 said that jazz was personally responsible for over 1000 losses of virginity among young women :P), and rock n roll, of course, got tons of objection when it was emerging. I feel badly for Rockstar that they are facing this decision so close to the release, and have to wonder why it is that it was pushed so close to the deadline. My sleep deprived 2 pennies...

marco0798
marco0798

tbh if the game is anything like what they described it should be banned gore and violence is all fine and dandy but that game is just gore and violonce for no reason whatsoever. the problem with it is that people will end up playing it to "kill people" and that is why it was banned

TheCritic9392
TheCritic9392

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

JamesL007
JamesL007

Finally someone with some common sense, I slaute you Roger Bennett you tell it like it is, I am glad to see that someone sees the real issue here too. Peace

Pete5506
Pete5506

Well its to bad the game is not out, but this guy should be back working

Taegre
Taegre

I don't really care what the ratings are really based on. I'm just glad to see a game that tries to grab buyers based on controversy finally get what it deserves. Maybe now we'll see games that are fun, instead of games that try to one-up eachother on how much guts and drugs they can fit into one game. Controversy is for people who suck at life.

Kalex007
Kalex007

"Bennett claims the BBFC operates under a 'flawed assumption' that because games are interactive, they are somehow different than other forms of visual entertainment. According to Bennett, there's no evidence to support this mentality" Not to discredit Bennett, but I believe there IS evidence that suggests interactive entertainment such as video games is DIFFERENT than non-interactive entertainment such as television (it is, in fact, a reason why I enjoy video games so much more than television). In educational studies, "interactive learning" is the process of learning through action and practice- versus passively listening to a lecture. Whether interactive learning is "better" or more effective than traditional/pedagogical learning is debatable (as it often depends on the culture in which it's executed), but whether or not it is DIFFERENT seems obvious: yes! that's why they're fun!

EPaul
EPaul

will manhunt 2 be released anywhere on this planet?

bigstokes
bigstokes

This guy needs to be back on the board.

Col-Neil
Col-Neil

Look if parents took more of an active roll in what there kids where playing instead of doing nothing people like whako jacko wouldnt get there way but as per they take the easy way out because parents are lazy no one gets to play manhunt

MysticDynamite
MysticDynamite

More Manhunt 2 news. This time it's in it's defense!

Konxumer
Konxumer

Yeah! People standing up for the freedom of expression in videogames!

DonutTrooper
DonutTrooper

Um, boo hoo? Seriously, why not just develop a test to find out who would be affected by Manhunt 2 ?(No, Jack Thompson, bad. You just sit in your office. Now, or I hit you with a rolled-up newspaper). At least that way an entire nation wouldn't have to be under the curtian.

Magrino
Magrino

Upon first word that sale of Rockstar Games' "unremittingly bleak" and "casually sadistic" Manhunt 2 would be illegal on the British Isles, Paul Jackson, current director of UK games association ELSPA, issued a statement hailing the move and claiming the decision proves the UK has a ratings system that is "effective." Questioning this sentiment, former ELSPA director Roger Bennett sees the decision as quite the opposite.

In an editorial posted on MCV earlier today, Bennett called out the British Board of Film Classification's ruling on several points. First and foremost, Bennett claims the BBFC operates under a "flawed assumption" that because games are interactive, they are somehow different than other forms of visual entertainment. According to Bennett, there's no evidence to support this mentality, and it is only due to outside influences that games are "becoming increasingly and wholly unjustifiably separated from other forms of screen entertainment."

Bennett goes on to say that the BBFC's decision was influenced by politics. He sees the government as being too heavily influenced by events that in no way pertain to the game industry. In turn, pressure from the media causes these officials to advocate narrow-minded and "ignorant" opinions without direct knowledge of the topic or legitimate facts to support their position.

In closing, Bennett takes the industry-standard position of questioning whether it's a good idea to deprive adults the right to make their own informed judgments on what is appropriate for themselves or their children.