Thursday, June 28, 2007

Violent Video Game Stirs up Controversy

Video game Manhunt 2, which is supposed to be available for the Sony PSP, PS2, and Nintendo Wii gaming systems next month, has been given the dreaded “AO” rating (“Adults Only”), which neither Sony nor Nintendo approves. In the UK, the game was actually banned.

For years, parents and adults, alike have criticized certain video games for being too violent. Despite this, game after violent game has squeezed its way onto store shelves. So what is it about Manhunt 2 that’s so bad? Heck, I’ve seen games where characters are chopped to bits by their opponents with raging chainsaws! USA Today provides a quick glimpse into Manhunt 2 killings, and apparently they involve things like private parts of the human anatomy, and hand tools. 'Nuff said.

Where does one draw the line? Chainsaws? Check. Murder? Check. Blowing someone’s head off? Check. This gets a Mature, 17+ rating. So at what point do you decide to slap on that 18+ sticker? Is all of the above not disturbing enough?

Some say in the case of Manhunt 2, the controversy has more to do with how violence is portrayed in the game, and not so much the violence itself: a “you-have-to-see-it-to-really-understand-it” kind of situation. The game follows a character who has escaped from an insane asylum as he goes about a killing spree of his enemies. The original Manhunt, released in 2003, received a Mature rating. Wikipedia describes it as being centred around a character on death row, sentenced to death by legal injection, but given a sedative instead by the sadistic doctor, who then forces him to engage in brutal killings for snuff films. Er, that actually sounds worse to me!

What’s even more disturbing, in my eyes, is the fact that the game is intended for the Nintendo Wii gaming console, which has not only found its main appeal as a “family” gaming system, but also requires full-bodied simulation of actions using a remote control! Warning: couples in a heated argument should not play this game!

Will Manhunt 2's publisher Take-Two Interactive and developer Rockstar Games push for creative freedom? After all, if you don't like it, don't buy it, right? Or will the company decide to rework the game so that it qualifies for a Mature rather than Adult rating? According to USA Today, a rework would cost upwards of US$1 million. It will be interesting to see where this controversial situation goes.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

What saddens me the most is that their is such a strong market for violent video games not to mention games in general. I find it absolutely pathetic that games are now being considered an addiction. What's going on in your life that you get to a point where you are adicted to a game? My knee jerk reaction is to blame the parents but when the average gamer is 40, they can blame themselves.

I have no interest in games, especially violent games. In my opinion they make no positive contribution to a society or individual. I'd be much happier to see people out skiing then skiing with their thumbs or actually throwing a football the running the electronic field. Then again, perhaps it's better that the psycho's playing violent games blow people's brains out on the screen then go out and do it in the real. Violent video gamers, maybe you just need to get a dog or something, or a girl friend (a real one not a virtual one) and start looking at the world beyond the joystick.

Anonymous said...

Video games progression towards violence runs concurrent to most popular media today. There is only controversy because of the rating given to the game, rather than the game itself. Are we trying to say that video games are more violent than films?

There is a plethora of games available today which have just as much violence (GTA3, Gears of War, Halo3)as Manhunt2. There are even games which involve characters from popular violent movies (Strangehold from John Woo's movie "Hard Boiled").

As the last poster wrote, they have no interest in games, no problem, then simply do not play them. I wonder how many real life threatening injuries have occured from kids playing football, rugby, or skiing for tht matter. This opinion is based upon ignorance and following the easy trend of blaming the video game industry for the woes of our society, which is simply ridiculous.

Manhunt 2 is not designed solely for the wii, it is also programmed to operate on the psp and ps2(which should also make it ps3 compatible). Id say keep playing with your joystick as long as you want, you're safe at home from the pring eyes of those who live to judge others.

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

Hi Anonymous',

It seems we've got a great debate going here, so I thought I'd throw in my two cents. I actually agree with BOTH of you. On the one hand, we should be encouraging children to get out there and participate in physical activities. After all, the obesity "epidemic" (as some call it) is running rampant in North America.

As for the games, anonymous (con-video games), you seem to be closed-minded to the benefits that video games can provide: hand-to-eye co-ordination, developing social skills for a child who hasn't yet come out of his shell, a thereupeutic stree outlet for adults (it's better than drinking or smoking, right?). Not to mention that there are several educational games out there with no purpose other than to stimulate the mind.

Anonymous (pro-games): you say that the controversy is only because of the rating given to the game, and not the game itself. However, the rating was obviously given for a reason. We could slap an X-rating on a cartoon, but this wouldn't make it pornographic, nor have any bearing on what people thought about it once they actually saw it.

And I do agree that kids can get more easily hurt while on the playing field outdoors, but this does not mean that the answer is to shelter oneself indoors, and only engage in "virtual" forms of play.

I grew up in the Atari and early Nintendo era. I will admit, I played video games. I loved them. We'd get together on family occasions, and have a Super Breakout tournament; or my cousin and I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning during summer break battling evil mushrooms in Super Mario. But just as often, I played ball outside. I rode my bike, ran around, played tennis in the park, jump rope on the driveway. It is possible to have a balance that includes both physical activity, and mental stimulation. This debate, however, has to do with the violent nature of the game, and not whether one should even play games to begin with. It is interesting that it has spawned such passionate views on either side, though. Keep the comments coming everyone!

Maria C. said...

Wowzers!

Mike S. said...

When i saw manhunt 2 was being released on the wii,the first thing that came to my head was what the heck is nintendo thinking? not only does the game make Grand Theft Auto (the politician's favorite) look like a day at disneyland but the first installment was a really bad game. i have no problem with violence and would rather my kids play god of war or halo 2 than watch an episode of C.S.I. but just like in film, there's violence that pushes the story along as in Bravehart, Casino and Gladiator and there's violence for the sake of shock as in Hostile and the Hills had Eyes. we should been critical of the latter. no sane child is going to go out and mimic what he sees in this mediocre game produced by rockstar, but then again the United States (the largest consumer of video games) is slowly becoming a breeding ground for medicated, alienated kids just waiting to snap.