on ESRB to Explain Why the New Videogame Received a Softer
Rating in U.S.
LOS ANGELES (October 31, 2007) – The Parents
Television Council™ called on the Entertainment Software Rating
Board (ESRB) to explain to parents why the new explicitly
violent videogame, “Manhunt 2,” was given a softer Mature (M)
rating and not the original Adults Only (AO) rating.
In Manhunt 2, players take on the role of an
insane asylum escapee where murder and graphically disturbing
methods of torture are commonplace. Manhunt 2 was originally
rated AO by the ESRB. After the publisher of the game, Rockstar
Games, re-submitted a new version, the ESRB then gave the game
an M rating. However, there was no public explanation from the
ESRB about the changes, and the
New York Times
suggests that the game “seems to retain at least 99 percent of
the original content.”
“Manhunt 2 encourages players to act out some of
the most horrific violence ever imagined in a video game. Yet
the game is now rated at a level where many children will easily
gain access and where some parents may be fooled to believe that it
is suitable for children. When graphic torture and the brutal
execution of innocent characters can be acted out by shooting,
stabbing, bludgeoning, strangling and electrocution, how could
such a product be deemed appropriate for children? But by
removing the Adult-Only label, the video game industry is saying
that this material is appropriate for people other than adults,
i.e. children. Such a statement by the industry is wholly
irresponsible, and their sole motivation for doing so is to line
their own wallets,” said PTC President Tim Winter.
“Only a handful of video games in history have
ever received an AO rating. And yet the ESRB originally rated
Manhunt 2 with this rating, knowing that some major U.S.
retailers might not carry the game. But the ESRB’s fleeting
moment of lucid thinking quickly came to an end and the AO
rating was reduced to M. We believe that the ESRB has an
affirmative duty to inform consumers what changes were made to
enable this game’s softer rating. Parents deserve transparency;
they deserve to know what the changes were, if any.
“From the PTC’s own secret shopper campaigns, we
have found that many retail stores do not check for ID and allow
children under the age limit to purchase adult video games. In
fact, a majority of under-age children are routinely able to
purchase video games in direct defiance of the industry’s own
guidelines. The PTC will continue to push for enforcement of
the ESRB ratings guides backed by financial penalties for those
who do not adhere to age-based restrictions.
“Social scientists have said for more than 50
years that exposure to violent media products leads to
aggressive behavior in children. The U.S. military agrees, and
uses simulators that are similar to first-person shooter video
games to desensitize soldiers to violence and mentally prepare
them to kill if necessary.
“We warn parents about the explicit nature of
Manhunt 2. When graphic sex, extreme violence, and the
glamorization and codification of disrespect for the most basic
of norms that make up human decency are involved in a product
that children can use and learn from, parents need to be a part
of the decision making process.
“The ESRB needs to explain to parents why this
game was given a lower rating. If there was a real
justification, then the ESRB needs to be forthright. So far it
seems that the ESRB is playing into the hands of Rockstar Games,
which clearly does not have children’s best interests at heart,”
Hackers reinstate violence in censored
Manhunt 2 - Games Industry