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Press Release

October 31, 2007

PTC Denounces “Manhunt 2” Rating Reduction

Group Calls 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,” said Winter.


Hackers reinstate violence in censored Manhunt 2 - Games Industry


To schedule an interview with a PTC representative, please contact Kelly Oliver (ext. 140) or Megan Franko (ext. 148) at (703) 683-5004.

The Parents Television Council™ (www.parentstv.org®) is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. It was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media. This national grassroots organization has more than 1.3 million members across the United States, and works with television producers, broadcasters, networks and sponsors in an effort to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children. The PTC also works with elected and appointed government officials to enforce broadcast decency standards. Most importantly, the PTC produces critical research and publications documenting the dramatic increase in sex, violence and profanity in entertainment. This information is provided free of charge so parents can make informed viewing choices for their own families.




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