Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
20 June 2007
Rockstar should welcome Manhunt 2's AO rating
I don't understand why Rockstar is dismayed that their upcoming game, Manhunt 2, is slated to get an AO rating. And, unlike Josh, I don't really care whether it is for violence or sexual content or a mixture of the two.

If Rockstar really wants to make a game that includes content that pushes it over a line that society has set (by proxy through the ESRB) then they should just accept that. Society self-censors all the time. Parents limit what their kids can see, to varying degrees. Communities set limits on where a bars -- with our without dancers -- can be run. Stores put magazines behind the counter or on the top shelf, out of reach of youngsters.

And now Rockstar has made a game that's been judged to have an AO rating. Them's the breaks. If you're really confident in the game on its own merits, then deal with it. If you really made something you think is remarkable, but deals with subject matter than society doesn't want some youngsters to have, then that's the world you live in. Perhaps your game will change some minds and future ratings will be made differently. Embrace that you're truly breaking new ground and show people that you're not just skirting the line to earn some extra money.

As for me, I'm not buying another Manhunt. These past few years I've had to face images of a three-year-old child with one leg blown off and men with heads covered entirely by the smooth scar flesh that grows after the original flesh has burned away. I don't need a game to remind me of what horrors humanity can inflict on its members.

Update: Having read the comments, let me try to distill my point a bit: The material in Manhunt 2 already limits the audience that society would find acceptable. The rating is intended to communicate that to potential buyers, and it sounds like that's precisely what will happen. It's not like Rockstar didn't understand the environment in which it was working.

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--Matt Matthews at 09:46
Comment [ 13 ]

Comments on this post:

what you dont realise is that RETAILERS are the problem.

walmart, ebgames, and virtually every other store that carries videogames DOESNT carry AO games.

when the ESRB gives an AO rating, it generally means, this game will never be sold.

when a company invests millions of dollars into a game, they HAVE to sell it.. so the only solution would be to sensor it.

unless a miracle happens, this is bad news.

i hope that the original AO version can still be purchased somewhere, even if its only from rockstars own site.

anyways.. i agree, im not a huge fan of brutally violent videogames, but they shouldnt be censored. the games are made for adults, and adults should still be able to find and purchase these games.

its not fair that a ratings board gets to decide if i, an adult, am allowed to play a game or not.

well.. the ratings board is at fault, but im more angry at retailers.. like walmart.

..and just the generally ignorant population at large, who dont realise that games are make-believe and that an adult should have access to them, should they so please.

By Blogger Joel, at 20 June, 2007 14:43  

"an adult should have access to them, should they so please."

Certainly, but the target market of Manhunt 2 is more likely to be the 15-22 demographic. Lots of non-adults in there.

From what I've read about the game, the AO seems to be an accurate rating, and if Rockstar doesn't want to change the content, they accept the rating.

Frankly, I'm tired of gamers blaming ratings boards and retailers for making decisions based on the cards the developers deal them. If this adult content is so essential to the integrity of the game, accept it and market it.

If Rockstar accepts the AO rating, they are too big a developer to not get the game in retail outlets. Not Walmart, but Gamestop and online retailers will likely carry it - there simply haven't been enough high profile AO games to judge how much brick and mortar retailers avoid them.

My guess is it ends up behind locked cases at EB but with floor displays noting that it's for sale.

By Blogger Troy Goodfellow, at 20 June, 2007 17:37  

Apparently, Nintendo has also given Manhunt 2 the kiss of death if it has an AO rating. They won't license it, so it won't be released on Wii.

They're going to have to go back and attempt to mitigate that rating, but I can't see how they'll do it.

By Blogger Jeremy, at 20 June, 2007 18:02  

Pointless. Rockstar doesn't make "edgy" games... it makes games that are run of the mill styles and sprinkles "edgy" items and subjects in them to seem more "mature" to a demographic that thinks fart jokes are the pinnacle of humor. ;)

(Hey, I was 15 once... and to me... fart == funny for quite a while...)

By Blogger JFT, at 21 June, 2007 00:39  

Sony have also stated they don't allow AO titles. I guess it's official, videogames are for kids only.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21 June, 2007 02:30  

Ya, thats great, except Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft do not allow AO games to be published on their consoles. So it's not like it's been given an AO, its more like its been banned altogether. Which means adults have been denied their right to make that choice.

By Blogger Trevor, at 21 June, 2007 15:21  

If Sony,Nintendo and Microsoft don't allow AO games to be published on their consoles as a matter of stated policy, the anyone who *voluntarily* buys those consoles has essentially given up the right to play AO games on those consoles, and has no right to complain.

The Big three have a "right" to regulate what is published for their consoles. If you don't like it, you can try to convince them, but they aren't obligated to do so. And that's okay.

If you believe that you have the right to play AO games, don't buy consoles that won't allow them.

Although, I agree that most of these games just have tacked-on over-the-top content just to get the "young male" demographic which is such a massive chunk of gaming revenue.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21 June, 2007 16:37  

'The Big three have a "right" to regulate what is published for their consoles.'

They don't, that has been decided in courts long ago. What has changed is that they now have effective means to lock out anyone that don't want to publish through them.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21 June, 2007 16:49  

The companies license what they want to license. They make the console, they front the money. They shouldn't be forced to license everything that is presented to them.

Rockstar has a right to make whatever kind of game they want. They don't have the right to force other people to license, sell, and buy it.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21 June, 2007 17:12  

The manufacturer have all the rights in the world to choose what they publish, but they don't have the right to prevent someone else from publishing for their hardware. With the introduction of crypto-based authentication they have the means to stop it from happening.

Always keep in mind that a console security system has two objectives: preventing unauthorised copying and locking unlicensed developers out. Of these the second function is arguably the most important as there are laws against illegal copying, but unlicensed games means no more income for the hardware manufacturer.

Anyway, as it now looks like Manhunt 2 won't be released at anywhere at all, the number of Wii games that interest me has been reduced to one and as that one is a port/rerelease there's really nothing that would persuade me to buy the console.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22 June, 2007 04:40  

Rockstar's games already scrape the gook off the bottom of the barrel in terms of quality and content, so why not let them get a rating that reflects that? Come on, the only selling point for the GTA series was that it was tasteless.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22 June, 2007 11:39  

To comment above:
Dude, that's harsh. You fail to mention the sandbox revolution pioneered by the GTA franchise. It's only tasteless to soccer moms (which you could be, by the way...) and stubborn politicians.

By Blogger HumanWaste, at 26 June, 2007 18:20  

Exactly the same situation here in the UK, where our equivalent body (the BBFC) has refused Manhunt 2 a release at all (not having recourse to an AO rating - our only equivalent is reserved for pron films) without cuts / edits (the likeliest situation - the bits it particularly objects will be pixellated or cut by Rockstar - not too expensive for them I assume - and then the game will come out on an 18 certificate). It is always tough on sexual violence, but I wonder if MH2 is worse than some of the current cinema crop of Hostel, etc.

By Blogger Paul, at 27 June, 2007 09:08  

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