Rockstar wins Manhunt 2 appeal

The decision by the British Board of Film Classification to ban the controversial action adventure game is overturned.

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Just over two weeks ago, a day-long appeal against the British Board of Film Classification's (BBFC) decision to refuse a classification to the game Manhunt 2 was held in central London. Seven members of the independent panel assigned by the BBFC listened to the evidence presented from both sides before retiring to deliberate a verdict.

The argument from Jeffrey Robinson, the legal representative for Rockstar was that Manhunt 2 did not deserve to be singled out, and that it was no more or less violent than similar games currently released in the country, including The Suffering: The Ties That Bind and the original Manhunt. The BBFC's representative, Andrew Caldecott, however, argued that a line must be drawn somewhere and it had chosen to draw it under this game.

Today the Video Appeals Committee panel announced that its decision was four-three in favour of Rockstar, and that the game should be given a classification and released in the UK.

The appeal dealt with the edited version of the game, which is already on sale in North America, not the original version which was given an AO in the US and also refused a classification in the UK.

David Cooke, director of the BBFC, commented in a statement, "The BBFC will carefully study the judgement by the Video Appeals Committee when it becomes available. The BBFC twice rejected Manhunt 2 for its focus on varied and cumulative killings. We recognize that rejection is a very serious step, in which the desire of publishers to market their games, and that of gamers to buy them, must be balanced against the public interest, including the full range of possible harm risks to vulnerable individuals and to any children who may be wrongly exposed to such games. Such balancing judgements are inevitably complex and multifaceted and are made only after very careful consideration of the contents of a work."

Although the verdict has been relayed to the BBFC, the written judgement has not been received yet, which means that the game will not be immediately released with an 18 certificate. A spokesperson for the BBFC explained to GameSpot, "We need to review the written judgement to see if there are any grounds for judicial appeal to the High Court. If we don't see any grounds, we will grant it a certificate."

Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick commented, "We are committed to making great interactive entertainment while also marketing our products responsibly and supporting an effective rating system. We are pleased that the decision of the VAC has recognized that Manhunt 2 is well within the bounds established by other 18-plus rated entertainment."

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