July 2, 2007 - If you're a hardcore gamer, chances are you've heard about the storm of controversy swarming around Manhunt 2. The game has been banned in numerous overseas countries and has received the AO rating, which bars it from release on any console. Rockstar, the developers of Manhunt 2 as well as the ultra-popular Grand Theft Auto series, have come out and supported their game, going as far as to call it a work of art. The game's violence isn't in dispute, as the first Manhunt was one of the goriest and most disturbing games ever released. However, Manhunt 2 violence has been compared to that of an R-rated movie, creating a huge discrepancy in the judging between the two genres.
This week Cheat Code Central is addressing the controversy surrounding Manhunt 2 and discussing what this will inevitably mean for the gaming industry.
D'Marcus Beatty, Co-Site Director
Manhunt 2 is a game that I was anticipating. It wasn't fairly high up on my list, but I was slightly interested in playing it. The first Manhunt was kind of fun, although I will admit that it was a bit graphic to me. There were scenes in the game that made me uncomfortable, but overall I thought the game was well done and did a good job of creating an atmosphere. The violence was justified because the game called for it.
I'm sure the situation is the same for Manhunt 2. Rockstar, as a developer, has always seemed to push maturity in their games, but the mature themes are always essential to the stories that they were telling, stories that, in my opinion, were always at the forefront of gaming. GTA III came out and set new standards in gameplay and voice acting, showing gamers and developers everywhere that they recognized a large portion or gamers had grown up.
I believe that the industry needs to be shaken up with this Manhunt 2 controversy. There are a bunch of mediums that had to go through the same growing pains to get respect. Movies, comic books, music, and television all faced censorship with people making the same claims that each medium was behind the moral decline of society. However, that claim gets a bit hypocritical when a person can see the same level of gore in Manhunt 2, with an AO rating, that they could see in the Saw series, which is rated R.
It's just a matter of time now before everyone recognizes that gaming isn't just for kids anymore. Perhaps then we'll be able to accurately divide games into kid-oriented and adult-oriented (without an AO rating) so that people outside of the gaming industry will recognize that every game released isn't targeting children.
Maria Montoro, Co-Site Director
I'm more bothered to hear the news about Manhunt 2 in Ireland and the UK than about the AO rating in America. What's happening in Europe is actually called CENSORSHIP and I really don't believe in that. I am also European and I know that my country had to deal with censorship for decades. Now that it seems most of the western civilizations have realized censoring art and other ways of expression is negative for everyone, I don't understand why two advanced countries like the UK and Ireland decided to prohibit the sales of a video game. This video game is not attacking anyone, nor is it proven to be hurtful for our society. Why would the government take justice in their own hands without listening to what the industry and the actual video game consumers have to say? They never banned the numerous horror movies that people have access to! Is that because they know about films but nothing about games and they're judging from an uninformed standpoint? Probably!
They say they have to draw a line somewhere; a line for what? - So they can decide what is acceptable for people to watch and what is not? A line so they can make decisions for people because people are not responsible or smart enough to make them? I don't believe a game or movie can push someone to act a certain way, if someone is likely to commit a crime, they don't need a game to go ahead and do it. The way people act is within them and their upbringing; a game or a movie won't turn any adults in their right mind into criminals if they weren't already mentally disturbed. Censoring is something of the past and freedom is being attacked.
As for the AO rating in America, I understand the point. They want to make sure young people are not going to be affected by this game in any way. What I don't understand is the M rating versus the AO rating; it just seems a bit strange to have a one year difference between them. They should just choose between one and the other, or it doesn't really make sense. Also, the series Saw is rated R, which means kids under 17 can't watch them. I doubt, although I haven't seen Manhunt 2, that this game is worse than any of those horrific movies. Why isn't Saw for adults only? Because the biggest fans of the horror genre are teenagers and the movie wouldn't sell as many tickets if they didn't have access to it; it's called business. Rating Manhunt 2 "Adults Only" means that this game will be rejected by Sony and Nintendo, and that all of the expenses that went into the development of this video game are going down the drain. In my eyes, it's a punishment to Take-Two and Rockstar for taking risks and creating games that are out of the ordinary, and it's also a decision made by most likely uninformed people, also influenced by religion and their own morality issues. Thanks for deciding for everyone else! What would we do without you?!
Matthew Walker, Project Coordinator
When it comes to the AO rating for Manhunt 2, I'm kinda torn as to whether it is a fair call on anyone's part to rate the game this way. The only thing is that both sides of me ultimately reach the same conclusion. However, the parental side of me just takes a little longer. Banning the game does nothing except raise interest for the game when there otherwise would be considerably less interest.
Let me explain myself a little. While the game could very well be one of those that we talk about for months on end, it could very well be another State of Emergency. Another issue that I have for the rating is that it may not even fully deserve the rating. If an R rated movie can show grotesque images that disturb people to the core, how could a game reach that same level of magnitude when we can easily turn the image off? I know some may think we can do the same with a film, but you cannot at the theaters.
The morality issue can be debated upon for several hours. For instance, the declaration that all of the big-wig gaming publishers, Sony, Nintendo, and even Microsoft, would not support AO third party games sparks heated discussion even amongst the most timid gamers. Personally, I do not agree with the bold statements, but I can definitely see the purpose behind such a declaration. If the gaming industry shows that they at least have an idea of how to police themselves, then we will eventually have the possibility of allowing the gaming industry to mature into the adult it wants to be instead of being trapped in the adolescent mindset many political leaders seem to think we are.
I can see the need to advance into uncharted territory in order to survive. However, I do not quite think the industry as a whole is prepared for what would follow after the first charge into adulthood. Maybe banning the game will open everyone's eyes to see that maybe the industry is not ready. That way we can look ahead and start shaping it so that we will be ready in a shorter period of time. Whatever comes from the rating and ban of the game, it is almost certain that Manhunt 2 will be one to the best selling titles when it is finally released.
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