Manhunt 2’s controversial British saga continues, as censors continue to try to block the sale of the violent video game by appealing last week’s hearing that favoured publisher Rockstar Games. Is this drama merely helping Manhunt 2’s publicity?
Digital Journal — British censors don’t like their ultra-violence mixed with console gaming. That sentiment was in full effect recently when the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) announced it would appeal a recent decision to lift the ban on Rockstar Games’ Manhunt 2. Last week, the Video Appeals Committee overturned the BBFC decision to ban the game, which features blood-soaked violent scenes.
Manhunt 2 follows an insane asylum escapee with multiple personalities who fights guards and bounty hunters using brute force. As a successor to the original Manhunt, this game allows the player to attack enemies with chainsaws, bats, knives and other weapons. "Environmental kills" are a new addition to Manhunt 2, allowing players to strangle enemies with phone cords or smash someone's face into a fuse box.
The game was first banned in June 2007, and a revised version was also banned in Britain months later. Manhunt 2, available for PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Wii, was released in the U.S. in October with less controversy than the U.K. drama.
But the BBFC said the recent win for Rockstar could set a dangerous precedent. It said in a statement:"The Video Appeals Committee judgement, if allowed to stand, would have fundamental implications with regard to all the Board's decisions, including those turning upon questions of unacceptable levels of violence."If the appeal is successful in getting a judicial review, Manhunt 2 wouldn’t receive any classification prior to the review’s outcome. This news also means the game will remain off U.K. store shelves until the legal battle is over.
But by banning Manhunt 2 twice, are the Brits really hurting Rockstar? Perhaps in the short term, but if the game is finally released in the U.K., expect avid gamers to be intrigued by what has stirred so much controversy. People might be afraid of what they don’t know, but they’re also itching to learn about anything they’ve been told is too dangerous to know.
Manhunt 2’s criticism is legitimate but it may also backfire. Look at how popular the Grand Theft Auto series has been in the face of think-of-the-children attacks. And I wonder which publisher is also responsible for that franchise?