Manhunt 2 Banned in UK

Manhunt 2 Banned in UK Manhunt 2 Banned in UK Manhunt 2 Banned in UK

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has announced that it won't issue an age rating for Rockstar's upcoming Manhunt 2, rendering it illegal for the game to be supplied anywhere in the UK.

Rockstar has submitted both Playstation 2 and Wii versions of the game for BBFC to review, and both got the same judgment. PSP version was not yet submitted, but it is expected to suffer the same fate if it is ever presented.

Here is BBFC official statement:
"Rejecting a work is a very serious action and one which we do not take lightly. Where possible we try to consider cuts or, in the case of games, modifications which remove the material which contravenes the Board's published Guidelines. In the case of Manhunt 2 this has not been possible. Manhunt 2 is distinguishable from recent high-end video games by its unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone in an overall game context which constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing. There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged, in the game."

"Although the difference should not be exaggerated the fact of the game's unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying and the sheer lack of alternative pleasures on offer to the gamer, together with the different overall narrative context, contribute towards differentiating this submission from the original Manhunt game. That work was classified '18' in 2003, before the BBFC's recent games research had been undertaken, but was already at the very top end of what the Board judged to be acceptable at that category."

"Against this background, the Board's carefully considered view is that to issue a certificate to Manhunt 2, on either platform, would involve a range of unjustifiable harm risks, to both adults and minors, within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, and accordingly that its availability, even if statutorily confined to adults, would be unacceptable to the public."

This is the first time a video game has been refused classification in the UK since Carmageddon in 1997. In that instance a sanitized version of the game was released with non-human characters and less violence. Publisher SCi (now owners of Eidos Interactive) were able to overturn the ruling however and the original version of the game was later released.

Rockstar has six weeks to submit an appeal.

Censoring in UK is generally rarer than most countries. However, the original Manhunt has had its share of media witch hunting and political protest campaigns in UK.

Manhunt was unfairly blamed for the murder of teenager Stefan Pakeerah in February 2004. Several protests and tabloid crusades have forced British games industry to defend itself for several weeks to no avail, although it was confirmed that it was the victim, not the killer who owned a copy of Manhunt. British police has also confirmed that robbery was the real motive behind the murder.

Stefan's mother, Giselle Pakeerah, had condemned the sequel, branding the gaming industry "morally irresponsible". "We have been campaigning against these games for a long time and the BBFC made the right decision," she said.

However, the BBFC insists that past incidents have not influenced the decision to deny the sequel to UK consumers.
"That had nothing to do with this decision, absolutely not," said Sue Clark of BBFC.
"We are independent of government and independent of the industry and we reached this decision based on our guidelines and our concerns and not on any other basis at all," she added.

BBFC has already granted Rockstar's Bully (now "Canis Canem Edit" in Europe) an age rating of 15, in spite of the huge controversy surrounding it. But on the other hand, BBFC has also granted the (arguably) more gruesome Dead Rising an age rating of 18 and allowed it uncensored in UK.

When questioned about their Dead Rising rating, BBFC commented: " There is no clear evidence that playing games leads to copycat behavior. We would only intervene if a game was going further than any other game in terms of interactivity and the "thrills" it offers a gamer."

Rockstar was quick to issue an official statement regarding the whole incident.

"We are disappointed with the recent decision by the British Board of Film Classification to refuse classification of Manhunt 2. While we respect the authority of the classification board and will abide by the rules, we emphatically disagree with this particular decision.

"Manhunt 2 is an entertainment experience for fans of psychological thrillers and horror. The subject matter of this game is in line with other mainstream entertainment choices for adult consumers."

"We respect those who have different opinions about the horror genre and video games as a whole, but we hope they will also consider the opinions of the adult gamers for whom this product is intended. We believe all products should be rated to allow the public to make informed choices about the media and art they wish to consume. The stories in modern video games are as diverse as the stories in books, film and television. The adult consumers who would play this game fully understand that it is fictional interactive entertainment and nothing more."

Rockstar's objection sounds reasonable; however recent research by the BBFC showed that negative press surrounding controversial games actually encourages sales.
"We have to make a decision. If we feel it's not appropriate for classification then we have to make that decision - we can't classify it and hope nobody notices it", said BBFC's Sue Clark.