Manhunt 2: Take 2's Top Man Comments

Don't get too excited...

Posted by Staff
Manhunt 2: Take 2's Top Man Comments
SPOnG can't be the only one who had the kind of mother who never shouted but instead said, "I am so disappointed in you" before locking us in the cellar. It's that word, "disappointed" that's supposed to shame you.

Which is why we're guessing that Take Two chairman, the fabulously named Strauss Zelnick has used it in his official statement to the world regarding the British Board of Film Censors' decision yesterday to take the Manhunt 2 banning saga to the High Court (great news, eh tax payers!?).

"We are disappointed that the BBFC has decided to appeal its own Video Appeals Committee's judgement in favour of an 18-plus certificate for Manhunt 2. We believe the VAC decision was correct and do not understand the BBFC's decision to expend further public resources to censor a game that contains content well within the bounds established by the BBFC's 18-plus ratings certification", says Strauss in an antiseptic statement.

Don't understand the decision. It's quite simple, Strauss, the BBFC is using your game as a 'line in the sand'; a first bastion; a thin end of the wedge against video game violence.

In case you (like Strauss) have missed out on the facts that... Take 2 and Rockstar decided to produce a follow-up to 2004's 'controversial' Manhunt; called it Manhunt 2; it was refused a classification by the BBFC; this meant it couldn't be sold; T2 appealed to the Video Appeals Committee; the VAC said, "What the hey! Give it a rating why dontcha!?"; the BBFC refused and is taking the whole thing to judicial review in the High Court... phew... well, you can read that all here.
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Showing the 20 most recent comments. Read all 35.
tyrion 20 Dec 2007 08:49
16/35
schnide wrote:
A point I've probably not yet made is that yes, you're responsible enough to know the difference between whether something is worth buying or not and whether it should be tolerated, so yes, it's fine for it to be out there on the shelves as long as the world is filled with people like you and me. But it isn't filled with people like that. There are very dumb and impressionable people out there who buy The Sun and who are influenced by it, who like to eat 1 readymeals containing every additive under the sun, and who with repeated exposure to repetitive actions of questionable moral content, might just be that little bit more likely to commit a violent act.

So what you are asking is if this is the sort of game you would wish your wife or builder to play? This does smack of the Victorian view that the intellectual elite could "handle" pornography, but the lower classes could not.

Manhunt 2 could very well be the thin end of the wedge. What is to stop the BBFC, if they win their appeal, from then banning GTA IV? I'm just guessing here, but I bet GTA IV will be a far superior and worthy game than Manhunt 2, but it is from the same people who tried to get Manhunt 2 published.

What's next after GTA? UT III? Call of Duty? Uncharted? Halo? Burnout desensitizes you to car crashes, even encouraging you to create them, how irresponsible is that?

Do you really want Manhunt 2 to be the starting point for a comics code like set of rules for games?
Tim Smith 20 Dec 2007 10:00
17/35
schnide wrote:
As an aside, do you really think that's true? If a game existed which approached the subject in a sensitive and mature way - it would be dark, but with the right writer it could be done - I don't think it would be condemned.


Yes I do think it's true. I do not think any publisher in the Western world would touch it with a bargepole.

schnide wrote:
But these are not comparable examples. These are generally accepted as high quality works of great value in spite of the subject matter. Okay, maybe not the Bible. But either way, I don't think you can put Manhunt 2 in the same category.


1) They are only generally accepted as classics because they all got published.
2) We can't start banning things because they are crap.
3) We can't know crap from good if we ban things.

schnide wrote:
A point I've probably not yet made is that yes, you're responsible enough to know the difference between whether something is worth buying or not ...There are very dumb and impressionable people out there who buy The Sun and... who with repeated exposure to repetitive actions of questionable moral content, might just be that little bit more likely to commit a violent act.


I'm going to have to refer to the classic Mervyn Griffith-Jones' quote:

Mervyn Griffith-Jones wrote:
"Ask yourselves the question: would you approve of your young sons, young daughters - because girls can read as well as boys - reading this book. Is it a book that you would have lying around the house? Is it a book you would wish your wife or servants to read?"


schnide wrote:
As I've said on related topics before, it's still likely in my eyes and unproven otherwise that playing violent games desensitises you to violence, and I don't think that's a particularly good thing in an increasingly violent world.


Is the murder rate actually up? Are we in a more violent world? Do they play a lot of video games in Darfur?

There will be a tet (Sic) later.

ho-ho-ho

Tim
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schnide 20 Dec 2007 12:05
18/35
tyrion wrote:
Manhunt 2 could very well be the thin end of the wedge. What is to stop the BBFC, if they win their appeal, from then banning GTA IV? I'm just guessing here, but I bet GTA IV will be a far superior and worthy game than Manhunt 2, but it is from the same people who tried to get Manhunt 2 published.

What's next after GTA? UT III? Call of Duty? Uncharted? Halo? Burnout desensitizes you to car crashes, even encouraging you to create them, how irresponsible is that?

Do you really want Manhunt 2 to be the starting point for a comics code like set of rules for games?


I would say that in all the other games you've cited, the violence is justified in the wider point of the game. In the case of Manhunt, the violence is the point of the game, and that's why it shouldn't be tolerated by a responsible industry.
config 20 Dec 2007 13:29
19/35
schnide wrote:
I would say that in all the other games you've cited, the violence is justified in the wider point of the game. In the case of Manhunt, the violence is the point of the game, and that's why it shouldn't be tolerated by a responsible industry.

Any multiplayer shooter exists solely for the purpose of carrying out acts of violence on the other players. There's no story to justify the violence, with death match games boiling down to "how much more death can one player deal over the others".

Should those games be banned, or is death by pistol, automatic weapon, rocket launcher, sniper rifle or heavy ordnance seen to be more acceptable than knife, garrot, baseball bat or axe?

The difference comes down to little more than the implement used and the proximity it affords when carry out the act.
schnide 20 Dec 2007 14:39
20/35
config wrote:
Any multiplayer shooter exists solely for the purpose of carrying out acts of violence on the other players. There's no story to justify the violence, with death match games boiling down to "how much more death can one player deal over the others".

Should those games be banned, or is death by pistol, automatic weapon, rocket launcher, sniper rifle or heavy ordnance seen to be more acceptable than knife, garrot, baseball bat or axe?

The difference comes down to little more than the implement used and the proximity it affords when carry out the act.


When you play a multiplayer shooter, do you take more gratification from the way in which you've destroyed the representation of your opponent, or just the fact you have? There is brief amusement when you frag another player with a rocket launcher in Quake, but mostly you revel the fact you've beaten them when they could have beaten you.

In Manhunt, you're rewarded for brutalising who is often an unsuspecting virtual victim in the most violent way possible.

Therein lies the difference. Multiplayer FPS' didn't arise because someone said "hey, let's allow the player to see what it looks like when they blow someone up with a rocket launcher." It's a competitive genre in which violence is a means to an end, and the weapons have evolved from that. In a way, it's not so far removed from tag.

My guess is that Manhunt, and correct me if I'm wrong, came about from someone thinking up a way to get some violent acts into a game to be controversial and bending a fairly poor story to fit around it. You'll notice how there isn't a silent-violent-hunter-killer genre because it's too weak to justify these games being made for anything other than hype and money.
Tim Smith 20 Dec 2007 14:43
21/35
schnide wrote:
My guess is that Manhunt, and correct me if I'm wrong, came about from someone thinking up a way to get some violent acts into a game to be controversial and bending a fairly poor story to fit around it. You'll notice how there isn't a silent-violent-hunter-killer genre because it's too weak to justify these games being made for anything other than hype and money.


My guess is that it was made to make money. This was the case because a ready audience exists that revels in that kind of pointless violence.

Nope, no guess. Certainty.

I'd prefer that audience to be sat inside getting rid of their violent urges on a video game.

As I asked before... is the world more violent since video games? Or is violence merely more widely reported?

Tim
schnide 20 Dec 2007 14:58
22/35
Tim Smith wrote:
My guess is that it was made to make money. This was the case because a ready audience exists that revels in that kind of pointless violence.

Nope, no guess. Certainty.

I'd prefer that audience to be sat inside getting rid of their violent urges on a video game.

As I asked before... is the world more violent since video games? Or is violence merely more widely reported?

Tim


I think we both know there's an argument for both of those, and I'd tend to agree with the latter. But as long as the lines are blurred, and there's still no conclusive proof that the encouragement of violent repetitive behaviour in computer games doesn't make the individual more aggressive, I still support games like Manhunt 2 being banned if studios aren't responsible not to make them in the first place.
config 20 Dec 2007 18:00
23/35
schnide wrote:
When you play a multiplayer shooter, do you take more gratification from the way in which you've destroyed the representation of your opponent, or just the fact you have? There is brief amusement when you frag another player with a rocket launcher in Quake, but mostly you revel the fact you've beaten them when they could have beaten you.

Yes. In Warhawk, the exhilaration of a silent, swift knife kill, multiple wipeout with a single TOW missile or leaving an enemy as road paste under your 4x4 is nothing compared to a landmine or tank kill. Same was and is true of Quake 3's gauntlet and railgun.

The execution of the, um, execution is often half fun. Because I enjoy it doesn't make me potential murder, and the more I play these game isn't going to increase the likelyhood.

In Manhunt, you're rewarded for brutalising who is often an unsuspecting virtual victim in the most violent way possible.

Unsuspecting? No. Manhunt had you play a murderer on death row who'd been spared and then forced into played the bait for an exclusive snuff video show. Your victims were tooled up, and you had to take them out silently whatever you had at hand in order to progress.

Ignoring the graphic kills, the situation is hardly different to Arnie's "Running Man" movie. The Stephen King book was less brutal and would have made a much better movie given today's reality TV overload - it had the protagonist as a regular guy from ghetto looking to win money for his family by becoming bait for the TV show. Should either book or movie be banned, despite scenes of chainsaws to the groin (movie) or characters walking on their own trailing intestines (book)?

Anyway, I'm not sure the how important the style of the kill is in Manhunt - it's been a long time and after several "levels" the play became tediously repetitive. However, I think that like most games the player settles for the most efficient and least risky method and sticks with it. The fact that one could chose a more grisly attack for one's personal gratification wasn't something Manhunt created - Soldier of Fortune (PC) and even Barbarian on the old 8-bits courted controversy over their optional limb/head removal manoeuvres. Did the BBFC ban either of those? Nope (though the nanny state Australia banned SoF)

It seems the BBFC's argument revolves around the game's "unremittingly bleak tone" and "casual encouragement of sadistic violence". The first statement is just ridiculous and without merit - I find Eastenders "unremittingly bleak", but millions of people watch it every week with no ill effects (well, aside from they themselves becoming unremittingly bleak). As the for the latter - I cannot say as I've not (nor am I ever likely to be allowed to) played it, but if it's anything like the first game I think they're taking single element and suggesting it's the central gameplay mechanic. Plenty of films on general release fall into this category, but haven't been refused classification. Don't even get me onto book, which manage to get away without any classification - maybe The Man thinks kids don't read (apart from the Anarchist Cookbook)

Therein lies the difference. Multiplayer FPS' didn't arise because someone said "hey, let's allow the player to see what it looks like when they blow someone up with a rocket launcher." It's a competitive genre in which violence is a means to an end, and the weapons have evolved from that. In a way, it's not so far removed from tag.

My guess is that Manhunt, and correct me if I'm wrong, came about from someone thinking up a way to get some violent acts into a game to be controversial and bending a fairly poor story to fit around it. You'll notice how there isn't a silent-violent-hunter-killer genre because it's too weak to justify these games being made for anything other than hype and money.


I think you're making a leap there. Nobody but the folks at Rockstar North can say, but playing the game it felt to me that it was first and foremost a stealth game with some interesting AI granting enemies advanced 'sight' and 'hearing'. I've no doubt at all that thoughts of making a great stealth game where soon followed with "let's make it ultra violent because folks buy it and it get loads of press" (both evidenced by the studio's GTA successes)
config 20 Dec 2007 18:09
24/35
Tim Smith wrote:
My guess is that it was made to make money. This was the case because a ready audience exists that revels in that kind of pointless violence.
[...]
I'd prefer that audience to be sat inside getting rid of their violent urges on a video game.


Oi! I quite like those games, and in my default state have no violent urges. I'm a lover, not a fighter. And before you ask, it takes quite a bit of "encouragement" to knock me off my steady state and draw out them there caveman urges.

schnide 20 Dec 2007 22:53
25/35
config wrote:
Ignoring the graphic kills, the situation is hardly different to Arnie's "Running Man" movie. The Stephen King book was less brutal and would have made a much better movie given today's reality TV overload - it had the protagonist as a regular guy from ghetto looking to win money for his family by becoming bait for the TV show. Should either book or movie be banned, despite scenes of chainsaws to the groin (movie) or characters walking on their own trailing intestines (book)?


There's a fundemental difference here. Psychologically, watching a film or reading a book is just that - you empathise, but you do not partake. Computer games are different. Granted you do not have a knife peripheral and a plastic dummy in which you have to make these actions physically - but how far would, for instance, a Wii version go with this?

Anyway, my point is this - playing games may well involve a different part of the brain. The part of the brain that forms behaviour. Repetitive actions, performed enough times, create new habits and behaviours. I'm not our famous friend Jack Tretton in disguise here or claiming that computer games are training our kids to kill, but think about the sentence I've written before this fully.

config wrote:
Anyway, I'm not sure the how important the style of the kill is in Manhunt - it's been a long time and after several "levels" the play became tediously repetitive. However, I think that like most games the player settles for the most efficient and least risky method and sticks with it.


See above. Can you disprove that computer games have no effect on behaviour? This runs into a wider debate but Manhunt is a prime example. We're not discussing the effect it could have on kids because kids shouldn't technically be able to play this game. But nevertheless, let's say playing a certain game, like Manhunt, increases the aggressive tendencies in an individual by the smallest fraction each time.

That individual gets into an argument with his girlfriend, and he has the opportunity to lash out. How confident are you to say that there is no chance repetitive, rewarded, aggressive actions played in computer games will have no effect on the situation and he will be just as likely not to use force in real life as if he'd never played a game?

To my knowledge there is no conclusive evidence either way, but as I've said before, I'm not comfortable with the industry supporting games like Manhunt until it's been disproved.
tyrion 21 Dec 2007 08:53
26/35
schnide wrote:
To my knowledge there is no conclusive evidence either way, but as I've said before, I'm not comfortable with the industry supporting games like Manhunt until it's been disproved.

Excuse me for cutting most of your post to reply, but let me assure you I have read it all.

I'm not sure I can reconcile your suspicion of the impact of repeated killings, or other undesirable actions, in games and your particular distaste for Manhunt 2.

You've previously said that other games are OK because the violence in them is justified, yet the violence is just as repetitive (in some cases much more so) and desensitising as it is in the Manhunt games. How about the special death scenes in The Punisher for example?

Either repetitive violence is bad and we can't let it out, or it's not a massive factor in real world violence and we should concentrate on the societal issues that surround the perpetrators of awful acts of violence.

I don't think we can base our judgements on factors such as "it's a s**t game and nobody will buy it anyway". Either we are for games being censored to a greater extent than films or we aren't. I'm not.

Good or bad, games deserve to be given the same access to market as DVDs. The "interactive situations are more likely to lodge in your brain" argument was contradicted by the BBFC's own research into the subject which found that the thought required in manipulating the controller caused a mental disconnect from involvement in the on-screen violence. So they can't use that argument to support stricter regulations for games.

In my opinion, it comes down to education. The "won't anybody think of the children" aspect is played upon because "the establishment" still thinks that games are for children. They need to be educated as much as parents do. Hopefully the Byron review will help towards this, but for now we need to keep shouting about our adult status and our ability to differentiate games from reality. And we need to protest the different standards that games are apparently expected to comply with.
schnide 21 Dec 2007 13:15
27/35
tyrion wrote:
You've previously said that other games are OK because the violence in them is justified, yet the violence is just as repetitive (in some cases much more so) and desensitising as it is in the Manhunt games. How about the special death scenes in The Punisher for example?


I can't comment on The Punisher as I've not played it. I wouldn't be as black and white to say either that other games are okay, nor that the violence is justified, but I think in some cases it fits with the context or is displayed in a more appropriate way.

tyrion wrote:
Either repetitive violence is bad and we can't let it out, or it's not a massive factor in real world violence and we should concentrate on the societal issues that surround the perpetrators of awful acts of violence.


I wouldn't, for example, discourage the practising of martial arts but I would be inclined to prohibit two people who wanted to beat other to death with wooden planks with rusty nails in them.

Tyrion wrote:
The "interactive situations are more likely to lodge in your brain" argument was contradicted by the BBFC's own research into the subject which found that the thought required in manipulating the controller caused a mental disconnect from involvement in the on-screen violence.


So you don't agree with their decisions but you're championing their research? ;) Either way, I'm not convinced by that. And I think the Wii controller is a good example of how that line is blurred further. As long as you are rewarding the player for choosing to commit a violent act, I am convinced that there's a level of conditioning going on, however subtle.

tyrion wrote:
For now we need to keep shouting about our adult status and our ability to differentiate games from reality. And we need to protest the different standards that games are apparently expected to comply with.


I agree, and arguing for Manhunt 2 to be released will undermine that cause. I play games, I'm well educated, I still disagree with it being released. How willing do you think the average Daily Mail reader or MP will be to discuss it like this without pushing for further restrictions on what can or can't be released?

Even if your arguments are valid in the long term, now is not the time to be standing up for a game like this.
dr dave 21 Dec 2007 16:21
28/35
schnide wrote:
Tyrion wrote:
The "interactive situations are more likely to lodge in your brain" argument was contradicted by the BBFC's own research into the subject which found that the thought required in manipulating the controller caused a mental disconnect from involvement in the on-screen violence.


So you don't agree with their decisions but you're championing their research? ;) Either way, I'm not convinced by that.


One is based on research by reputable scientists, the other is the opinion of a bunch of mealy-mouthed idiots.
schnide 21 Dec 2007 19:48
29/35
dr dave wrote:
schnide wrote:
Tyrion wrote:
The "interactive situations are more likely to lodge in your brain" argument was contradicted by the BBFC's own research into the subject which found that the thought required in manipulating the controller caused a mental disconnect from involvement in the on-screen violence.


So you don't agree with their decisions but you're championing their research? ;) Either way, I'm not convinced by that.


One is based on research by reputable scientists, the other is the opinion of a bunch of mealy-mouthed idiots.


I hope you're not referring to me. I'm no expert, but last time I checked there was no conclusive evidence either way as to the true effect of gaming, and in addition, not every scientist says the same thing, and finally I'm studying for a second degree in psychology and have just learnt about conditioning. What I've read about doesn't fit neatly with the BBFC's conclusion.

As I say, I'm no expert, but I'd like to think I bring more to the discussion that name-calling.

Feel free to do the same. Or have you been playing too much Manhunt?
PreciousRoi 23 Dec 2007 03:14
30/35
feh...you sicken me...

Even defeating you in detail would be an excecise in futility...rather it would be like decapitating a zombie chicken and while watching your headless carcass run around the barnyard might be worth a chuckle, but not a belly laugh, so I shall refrain, aside from saying that you are dead wrong, and the 'industry' must push for even-handed and appropriate standards at all times, most especially when they are under attack. You sound like the industry should 'appease' its critics somehow...I don't think thats a stategy for success, Neville.

Your attemt to use your educational aspirations as a cudgel is charming, though, if pathetic in an amusing way...a Psychology degree...and this...

schnide wrote:
I'm no expert, but last time I checked there was no conclusive evidence either way as to the true effect of gaming, and in addition, not every scientist says the same thing

smells like the same brand of bullshit the people who try to discredit Evolution in favor of Creationism shovel to me...not saying you're a Creationist or anything, but you're using their playbook...

But while an "abscence of evidence is not evidence of abscence" an unprejudiced scientific view would find no reason to suspect videogames of having any deleterious effect on children or anyone else, given "no conclusive evidence either way". Why, desipte your claims of an advanced education are you so determined that the reverse is true?
schnide 23 Dec 2007 10:37
31/35
PreciousRoi wrote:
Your attemt to use your educational aspirations


*snigger*

You know a good argument's gone bad when Comic Book Guy feels like he can contribute.

Spong - it was a pleasure debating the issue with you.



PreciousRoi 23 Dec 2007 14:53
32/35
damn, the zombie chicken knows its dead after all...

It will be a pleasure to be proved wrong if he does indeed STFU.
Tim Smith 24 Dec 2007 13:56
33/35
schnide wrote:
Spong - it was a pleasure debating the issue with you.


Just where the hell do you think you're going?! Anybody would think it was 'The Holidays' or something.

Merry The Holidays and a Happy New 365-day cycle (or is next year a leap-year, I don't recall?)

Tim
tyrion 24 Dec 2007 21:10
34/35
Tim Smith wrote:
Merry The Holidays and a Happy New 365-day cycle (or is next year a leap-year, I don't recall?)

It's a leap year when the year number is divisable by four, unless it's divisable by 100, unless it's divisable by 400.

2008 is divisable by four and not divisable by 100, so it's a leap year.
Tim Smith 28 Dec 2007 12:41
35/35
tyrion wrote:
It's a leap year when the year number is divisible [snippity snip]


Phew, and I've just finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which I can thoroughly recommend.

Cheers

Tim
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