Tobold's Blog
Saturday, June 23, 2007
 
Manhunt 2 - can there be too much violence?

Rockstar, makers of the Grand Theft Auto series of games, and having been in numerous disputes over the extensive violence in their games finally managed to make a game that is so violent that you won't be able to buy it in many places: Manhunt 2. NGamer reviewed it and called it "indisputably the most gruesome videogame we've ever played on any platform". As a result the BBFC and Irish Film Censor's Office have given the game a rating that makes it illegal to sell Manhunt 2 in the UK or Ireland. In the USA the game received an Adults Only rating from the ESRB. As many retailers refuse to sell AO rated games, publisher Take Two "temporarily suspended" the release of the game.

That of course led to some comments on censorship, argueing that Manhunt 2 is a form of art or free speech and shouldn't be censored. Well, first of all, at least in the USA it *wasn't* censored. The game most certainly deserved to be labeled "adults only", and that label is not a form of censorship. You can't blame Walmart or other retailers to not sell AO games. The first amendment of the US constitution does protect porn as art and free speech, but doesn't force Walmart to sell porn. If due to it's AO rating the sales are expected to be lower and the publisher prefers to shelve it, that is a business decision, and not censorship.

It would be better if the law in other countries would be similar, that adults could play Manhunt 2 if they wanted, but it wouldn't be sold in places kids are likely to hang out. You know how it goes, inattentive parents, or kid asking his older brother, and suddenly a 12-year old is applying a virtual chainsaw to a virtual human being. Of course that doesn't turn the kid into a real Jack the Ripper. But how could it not leave some psychological scar? I'm all for keeping overly violent games out of the hands of children. And if that means I have to jump through some extra hoops to get a game I want, so be it.
Comments:
If images don't influence people, then why is there a multi billion dollar advertising industry?

Why do advertisers actually pay big bucks to have their products shown in a film, such as a character drinking a certain type of beer.

Of course images influence us. To suggest otherwise in nonsense. No movie or game or song will make a child more violent, but if young people are surrounded by these images their entire life - it seems to reason that they'll be more desensitized to the results of violence and have a more casual attitude towards it.
 
10 years ago, I was working in an internet cafe in London. A local newspaper, interested in the uncensored access we had wanted to get kids to see if they could break one of the net.nanny programs and access porn.

They did it in just under an hour.

Classifying Manhunt 2 is all well and good, but how they are going to stop kids from downloading it off the net, the same way adults download tv shows, films, applications, etc. The infrastruture is already there for them to do it...
 
As I understand it the AO rating precludes Manhunt from being released for any of the major consoles so it looks like Take Two have really shot themselves in the foot on this one.

I am still a little torn on the issue of censoring video games. In general I am against censorship and yet I could imagine a video game that would be so nasty that I would not want it to be distributed. I cannot comment on either manhunt game because I haven't played them but imagine if someone made a video game where the main objective was to abuse children. I'd vote for banning that.

A problem I have with video game censorship is the perception of society at large that video games are just for kids. I think this often means that material which would be acceptable in an adult rated film causes uproar in a video game.

By the way I live in one of the countries where MH2 is banned.
 
Classifying Manhunt 2 is all well and good, but how they are going to stop kids from downloading it off the net, the same way adults download tv shows, films, applications, etc. The infrastruture is already there for them to do it...

We`re not talking about the small group of people pirating their entertainment media. This is about the millions of families wich buy their Manhunt2 within their grocery shopping at Walmart. This isn't about protecting tech savvy people but to protect the blue collar person. Especially the BBFC has warranted former bannings, with this exact argument and i guess this still holds true.

Ingame violence has reached a level of immersion that probably none of the readers here has experienced in their childhood, were a couple of red pixels were labeled outrageous.

I'm not saying that general censorship is a good thing, but let's be honest there is no undertone to this game with any kind of artistic perception. This is pure violent focused entertainment for just the sake of a quick dollar. So the argument for this game as a piece of art is the last straw T2 tries to grab. It's ridiculous.

All the "bannings" are justified in the sense that all rating boards know if they make this thing available for matures, kids and teens will be able to play it too.

If the BBFC bans it, it really must be a sick kind of entertainment, cause this rating board isn't as strict as people think. Sawing peoples heads apart with the Wiimote isn't quality entertainment, is it?
 
People are going overboard crying about censorship and freedom of speech. The fact is, the BBFC has banned only two games in the past 10 years or so, it is actually quite a restrained body as far as censors go.

Clearly Rockstar were pushing for the controversy dollar, and a small part of me can't help but feel glad that it's blown up in their faces. Stick to making good games, I say, if the story requires violence, fair enough, but don't push the violence level just for the sake of it.
 
This is about the millions of families wich buy their Manhunt2 within their grocery shopping at Walmart. This isn't about protecting tech savvy people but to protect the blue collar person.

Maybe people, particularly parents with younger children, should actually do some real parenting and find out exactly what game little tommy is asking for, so they can make an informed decision.

Children are not the only people who play games. The key market in this day and age is the 18-34 market, the kids that were playing their NES 15 years ago. The audience has matured, and yet there are those that would like to keep the entertainment industry where it was 15 years ago, because millions of parents are too damn lazy to raise their own kids and would rather other people do it for them.

People need to take some responsibility.

Clearly Rockstar were pushing for the controversy dollar, and a small part of me can't help but feel glad that it's blown up in their faces. Stick to making good games, I say, if the story requires violence, fair enough, but don't push the violence level just for the sake of it.

With all due respect, NGamer reviewd the game and had the following to say:

As dark a game as we’ve ever played, Manhunt 2 is a brilliant constructed piece of fanservice for horror enthusiasts and a masterclass in stealthy nastiness.

Ill let you make up your own mind whether they simply went for shock dollar and didn't make a good game (since, atm, the exclusive review is all anyone has to go on)
 
Tob, it surely isn't direct censorship, but just as happens with movies over here in the US, giving a title that kind of rating is damning it to lose lots of potential customers.

All one needs to do is play a game like Scarface to realize that there's something inherently wrong going on here with Manhunt 2. I'm really starting to think Rockstar's getting this sort of negative attention due to the stigma of the the GTA series and the original Manhunt more than the content that's in the game itself.

Back to my original point... it is censorship, even if through a loophole in the US. And it certainly is in the UK where it's being outright banned. It's just bad taste I guess. But then, the censors would argue the game "was in bad taste first".

And so it goes.

I don't give a damn when it boils down to it. I just hope the thing comes out when all is said and done and I can finally play it. I've always been a fan of the horror and suspense genre, and was VERY much looking forward to this game.

Man, I can't wait to see what happens with GTA IV.
 
I'm all for censorship when it is just and well directed.

Arguing that parents need to go learn to go and parent isn't an argument...

The censorship, in part, is there to protect kids from parents who can't do exactley that.

If parents all did what they should... and prevent minors from playing 18 rated games, we wouldn't need censorship would we.

Young and impressionable minds should not be subjected to such media. Like it or not we have an obligation to protect this quarter of society from adult orientated material.
 
I am REALLY not arguing about the actual rating issue here. I'm just saying that in this case it's being used as a way to keep the game from being released. Similar things happen all year every day at the MPAA. A group of righteous people claiming they know what's "good for us" shouldn't be something we're alright with, should it?

Bah, I'm coming of as a left-wing liberal, I know but it's just my feelings on the subject.

Informing the buyer = good.

Unjustly "censoring" = bad.
 
The censorship, in part, is there to protect kids from parents who can't do exactley that.

Why should i, an adult, be denied the ability to play a game that was made specifically for adults, because of careless parents?

Where does 'protecting the children' stop and straight up censorship start? This all stems from the stigma that "video games are for kids" and until ratings boards and governments manage to get rid of that stigma, this sort of thing will continue to happen.

Movies designed specifically for adults have no issue getting made and shown (Porn, Ultra violence etc), yet you do it with a game, and suddenly the children need protecting etc etc. It is hypocrisy at its finest.
 
A big part of the problem is self-censorship here. Because of the adult rating, console versions of the game aren't released, and the US version might not be released either. But all this is decisions by TakeTwo, Nintendo, Sony, etc. who all said that they wouldn't want to publish adult games. At least in the US this isn't the Big Brother state preventing you from playing this game, but just plain corporate greed: If they can't market violent games to children, the companies involved consider the game not being worth publishing, not profitable enough.

Several comparisons with porn have been made. But you won't find Sony making porn movies either, nor will you be able to buy them at Walmart. If we want adult games, we will need adult games shops, no access for minors.

Man, I can't wait to see what happens with GTA IV.

The really, really sad thing is that the fate of GTA IV depends on whether somebody finds a "hot coffee" mod for it. Violence is still way more acceptable to the public than sex is. But if you have children, when they grow up, would you rather have that they have sex, or would you rather have that they cut somebody into pieces with a chainsaw? Rating GTA III as "adult only" for a comparatively harmless sex scene that needed a mod to access was stupid. Any teenager can find a lot hotter stuff on the internet in less than 5 minutes of search, even if there are filters installed on the computer he is using.
 
It's Rockstar's attitude that annoys me more than anything.
Is controversy all they have to offer?
The problem with GTA for me was that there was no way to interact with people in the game except to either kill them or steal from them.
'Waaah why can't I play what I want?'
Anyone who takes pleasure from games like Manhunt 2 should look themselves in the mirror; violence for violence sake is not healthy.
Our streets are already full of yobs with little respect for anyone but their own pleasure. These sorts of games merely reinforce the psychopathic view that other people are just objects to be used and abused.
Developers like Rockstar will keep pushing the boundaries of horror/violence; you have to draw the line somewhere.
I think this is a good decision, irrespective of arguments like 'you can find worse stuff on the internet in 5 minutes'.
 
I think the Wii has changed the nature of censorship. One no longer has to press the B button to swing the hatchet, but wave their arms as if they were swinging the hatchet. Combine that with state-of-the-art graphics and you do have something slightly more concerning than a PS3 game.
 
I don't really see how this game is any worse than all the slasher movies released every year. I'm all for saying you have to be 18.

And it's only censorship if the government does it. These are industry organizations doing the rating, not the government. If the companies get together and don't want to do something for fear of bad publicity, or boycotts, that's capitalism in action. They are merely listening to their customers. Which is what we want when we agree, and then cry "censorship" when we don't care.

Yes that means some things won't get done, but again it's not censorship. It's listening to customers.
 
This is just an amplified version of the commotion surrounding Manhunt when it was released. It did eventually get released, it had tons of publicity...and it was a really weak game. It was obvious they had spent a lot of time on the atmosphere of the game (which was great) and on the kill system (which was amusing for about 2 minutes). Actually going through all the levels and finishing the game? No thanks, I'd rather play a good game.

For as good as the GTA series is, Rockstar's track record outside of that series is pretty spotty.
 
A group of righteous people claiming they know what's "good for us" shouldn't be something we're alright with, should it?

Bah, I'm coming of as a left-wing liberal, I know but it's just my feelings on the subject.


That's funny, I always thought it was the left-wing liberals who tried to tell us what's "good for us", then again, the right-wing isn't much better, but enough about politics.

Ben Elton summed up this situation perfectly in his book "Popcorn" where everybody wanted to blame somebody else for the antihero's action at the end of the book (including the antihero himself) and nobody wanted to be accountable for their own actions. You blame the media, you blame society, you blame your parents, you blame everyone for your own actions...except for yourself.
 
That's funny, I always thought it was the left-wing liberals who tried to tell us what's "good for us", then again, the right-wing isn't much better, but enough about politics.

Very true, very, very true. I can't say much else there.

You blame the media, you blame society, you blame your parents, you blame everyone for your own actions...except for yourself.

The day the majority of people begin to realize that their situations are often of their own doing, is the day I die fulfilled with the fact that Humanity is not a lost cause.
 
The game might be excessive in many ways, but the psychoanalysis of the video game industry is done by politicians and people who are very newbish when it comes to what the content actually is.

Ironically, they try bandaid any other game that has similiar violent scenes (resistance: FoM) into games that are excessively voilent (manhunt2) and it gets sent to the media as a big clusterF2CK of video game drama. They hold people responsible to a higher degree in the video game industry, than they do many other mediums.

My suggestion for games that are nc-17 or higher rating is to package them with a very noticeable warning or packaging as nobody under 18 could purchase it. Give adults the option to choose to purchase, imo, whether its "politically" or family friendly product.
 
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