6/19/07

Manhunt 2 Ban Really Necessary? [Update 2]

Just today CVG Online alerted us that Manhunt 2, the sequel to media-frenzied Manhunt for the PS2, will not be sold in the UK. Manhunt 2 is a game published by Take-Two, the same company responsible for controversial games such as the Grand Theft Auto series and Bully, and is set to release on the PS2, PSP, and Nintendo Wii. According to the article, right here, the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) refers to the game as offering "casual sadism." But the question here is does this game really need to be banned?

Let's begin this discussion by first pointing out a few of the features of Manhunt 2. The premise of this game is quite gruesome to start with, basically you are a scientist who wakes up to find himself in a loony-bin filled with crazy people caused by your failed experiments. Essentially, and there is much more to the game but this is the jist, you sneak around the environments and you kill people in unique and creatively gruesome ways. One example, you grab the testicles of said enemy and tear them off, thus, killing him. There is actually a feature that allows the player to decapitate the enemies and wear their heads as a prize. And if that's not enough, you can later throw the heads near other enemies in order to distract them. Things get even more interesting when it comes down to the way you play the game on the Wii. Rather than seeing an animation of these kills like in the PS2 and PSP versions, you actually act out the kills by way of the Wiimote.

So this leads us to the ultimate question, is it really the responsiblity of the government to ban the sale of games like this or should it be handled on a per-store basis? If a game can legally be sold in a particular country it doesn't mean that Joe's Game Shack is required to sell the game, or that Little Tommy Thompson is required to play it. In fact, it could even be argued that games of this nature could save lives. Imagine a man or woman with homicidal tendencies who gets uncontrollable urges to act out acts of violence on other humans. Got them pictured? Good. Now imagine them being able to purchase a game such as Manhunt and act out these disgusting urges in a virtual environment rather than in real life. We just saved a life. Now obviously the opposite could be argued, someone buys the game and loves it so much that it turns them crazy and they try it in real life, but that's the great thing about debate, playing both sides.

So why the ban? Do you guys agree or disagree?

[UPDATE 2]
The official ESRB rating for this game just came out and it will be rated AO (Adults Only) here in America meaning many huge retailers won't carry the game in stock. Only GTA: San Andreas was rated AO after the "hot coffee" sex scandal but it was quickly edited and rereleased with a Mature rating. Take-Two has a chance to appeal the decision or edit the game content and release that version instead. So we'll see what they choose, my guess is they will edit it and try to actually sell some games.

[UPDATE 1]
First review for this game is up: 92%. Check out the full review right here. Either the game is actually really good or the guys over at CVG are just sick and demented.

6 comments:

Boitano said...

dangit trav....i wrote a long response to this but accidentally closed the window before i submitted it...

too tired to write it again (for now at least)....

TanookiTravis said...

Man that sucks. There's an update to the story now too so maybe that will alter your response anyway. And by the way, Resident Evil for the Wii is out now, just thought you'd like to know.

boitano said...

are you gonna get RE4 again?

if i have trouble sleeping again tonight, then i'll try and remember to come back and write an opinion on that...

TanookiTravis said...

There is apparently a way I can get the game for only $10 at Circuit City with a coupon. So if that's the case then I will totally buy the game again, if not, then I will wait until it's used or drops in price. Beating the game 4 times makes it hard to pay $30 for the game all over again.

Chelsea fan, no not clinton, the football club said...

aparently mr boitano and TT know each other, but as for the post:

i must say that what you kinda described might be too far in my book (and i've never been one to complain about violent video games and all that). the difference i see is that through the advancement of the wiimote and its use in Man-Hunt, the combination results in an extreme narrowing of the gap between reality and....non-reality. very violent games in the past, despite how "great" or "awesome" the graphics have been or are, they've always had one more characteristic that separated them significantly from reality -- the violence or killing or whatever was performed on a controller with joysticks and buttons etc. the wiimote allows that great divide to be removed and it's as if the dam was blown up. now, with great graphics, people are able to play a game like Man-Hunt (that has the purpose and goal of gruesomely killing people) with a method of controllment that involves real simulating movements. not only does it look like real killing, but it feels like real killing based on the way you physically move your own body.

now before the hardline wii fans defend their "best ever" system, let me say that to attack the wii's use in man-hunt as "not real motion simulation" atacks the praise of the system itself. when the praise surrounds a systems for making you "feel like you're really..." bowling, batting, playing tennis, sword fighting, etc etc etc, then it CANNOT turn around and say, "it can make the user feel like he (or she - gotta be "PC") is really playing all those other activities, but it doesn't make the user feel like he's doing the activity of killing people." especially since the game itself is all about killing people as gruesomely as possible.

however, i dont' know that it's the government's place to step in and censor the game. but should the producers/creaters bare some sort of burden for their gross deviance from responsible societal creativity? how could they be held accountable? answer, they can't. they're off the hook. nobody upset or highly disapproving of the game has any influence on the game developers such that they could hold them accountable. you cannot buy the game, but you can't keep the developers from making another similar or another or another. is it merely a case for the stores to censor? nope, what can a store really do? they can be noble and refuse to carry the game, but does that benefit them in any way? nope. most people who even find out that they refused to carry such a game would probably think "thats nice, i admire their integrity," and then they would never think twice about that again. good press? i guess, but it's momentary good press. when the next great game comes out, who's really going to stop and say, "oh i'm going there because they didn't carry Man-Hunt."

so what, if anything can be done, if there are no viable censoring options or methods to rid such filth from the market? the answer then goes back to govt censorship as britain did.

there's a big difference between pressing three buttons and pretending to watch and kill someone and then using a remote that allows you to physically simulate what movements it would take to slit someone's throat and watch you do it while you act out the motions.

TanookiTravis said...

Individual stores are in no way responsible for censoring anything. All they have the right to choose is whether or not they carry a particular product. And not selling Manhunt does far more than just one person saying "oh i'm going there because they didn't carry Man-Hunt." Walmart (just an example) never sells products that they believe to be immoral or explicit. This is something that consumers know and many respect that. This is held in the back of their mind as something they appreciate, something they agree with. Once Walmart starts selling a game with an Adults Only rating people may start rethinking their opinion about Walmart, it will put a bad taste in their mouth so to speak.

I personally believe the one way to solve this issue is to leave the censorship up to the company responsible for the system the game will be played on (not something that works in the movie industry). Unlike the movie industry, each console manufacturer has the right to deny any game be made for their system (at least to a certain extent). I am totally for the decision on Sony and Nintendo's behalf not to allow Manhunt (rated AO) to be released on their respective consoles. They are very open about their stnace on AO rated games so it should come as no surprise to Take-Two. Hence the reason Take-Two has made multiple responses about the ESRB and not Sony or Nintendo. If the ESRB rates it Mature, then those companies will allow it.

And as for the Wii making the game more immersive than the PSP and PS2 versions, honestly no one really knows yet aside from the very few that have actually played it. The only thing we can do is assume that the game, if done properly on the Wii, will create a more immersive environment for the player like it tends to do with other games. But as proven by many other games, it's not the case. So making the "Wiimote makes it more violent" argument at this point is just crazy. The hardline Wii fans, as you referred to them, that "turn around and say, 'it can make the user feel like he is really playing all those other activities, but it doesn't make the user feel like he's doing the activity of killing people" are just pointless because they haven't played the game either. So yeah, let's just wait until anyone actually plays the game.