Friday, June 22, 2007

Videogames = Art. Censorship need not apply.

I was going to reply to Trinity's post on the whole Rockstar-Manhunt 2 debacle going on right now but for some reason I can't get my work connection to let me. So I'll paste my response here.

You see this week's been yet another rough one for Rockstar and Take-Two as another one of their games is going under heavy fire from ratings boards and pre-emptive reaction parents. Subsequently, due to several European countries banning the game before release, and Nintendo and Sony blocking the release of it in the US because of the AO rating the game is set to receive, Take-Two and Rockstar have decided to delay the game to decide the next course of action (likely altering the code to make it less violent).

Anyway, here's what I had to say on the whole thing but couldn't post on

To be perfectly fair, Trin, Take-Two and Rockstar don't want the games marketed towards kids. They're fine with a Mature rating which requires all stores to check and make sure the person buying the item is over the age of 17. I'm all for ratings on games as they're necessary for parents who actually care what their kids play and are exposed to (too many don't).

But what's going on here is merely the ratings board taking a shot at Rockstar. Right now, on my Wii, I've been playing Scarface. There are more f-bombs, limb dismemberments by way of chainsaw, and blood spatters from bullet wounds to the groin and face, not to mention that the entire game has you pushing cocain... and yet it receives a Mature rating only. It's by far one of the worst games along the lines of graphic material that has ever come out... and it's released and not made a deal over.

But yet Rockstar, whose games apparently cause children to do bad things (sarcasm) gets picked on with every game release by Jack Thompson and other absolute morons who have no clue what they're talking about.

Manhunt one was violent, but it had a story to follow and plenty of reasoning behind the killing. It was like a psychological along the lines of SAW. Manhunt 2 has even more of a story, with you trying to escape a government testing facility by any means possible to see your family again... even if it means killing everything in your path as an experimental pharmaceutical messes with your head (which was part of the government testing). It's a thriller movie in game form.

What I'm getting at, is that the content in this game can be no worse than movies like GrindHouse, Kill Bill, Hostel, or any other horror movie. The ratings are supposed to be there to guide parents to making informed decisions, not limiting the artists who make the games because some close-minded people see graphical violence and immediately think of Harris and Klebold.

Every form of art has to go through this sort of wretched blame placed on it for the downfall of society. Jazz, then Rock and Roll, then Metal, now videogames. I just hope people come around and realize that what affects our children is our responsibility not that of the people making games.

Simply said, if you don't want your child being exposed to it, do your homework and pay attention. Don't go blaming a videogame company, or a rockband, or an author, or a film maker for the inadequacies in one's self (not directed at you at all, but being such a liberal these topics set me off).

You see, no matter what you want to say about the content of the game, the fact of the matter is that they fall under the same rights as any other form of art. AO rating or Mature rating, it shouldn't matter. Let the company release the damn game. I'm all for the rating system in terms of helping it inform parents about their purchases, but please for the sake of my mentality refrain from using the system as a form of "blacklisting" or censorship.

People amaze me. They really do.

EDIT: As an amendment, I'd also like to point out that neither Nintendo of Sony allow AO games to be published on their systems, so the ESRB rating effectively disallows the distribution of Manhunt 2. If for one second you think the ESRB didn't realize this, you're out of your gord. Say what you will about violent games, or whether or not you think Manhunt's premise is viable as art or entertainment as opposed to saddism... the fact still remains that should be released as per the rights of the game-makers. But unless they change the content now or win an appeal, it won't be.


JOHNNY said...

Let the game and artists have the freedom to do what they please.
The rightous always look for something to blame but themselves.

Cameron Sorden said...

I think a large part of the problem is that the country doesn't really have a baseline idea of what these ratings mean. The ESRB can't even rate them consistently, for that matter (as you point out).

Does the average parent understand the difference between M and AO? Probably not, except for the fact that they can buy one much more easily than the other.

And it's not that they won't be able to release Manhunt 2. It's that they won't be able to sell it through most of the usual channels. It's stupid, but there it is. There's no point releasing and promoting a game you can't sell (and that's banned all over Europe).