You've all heard about the outrageous banning of Manhunt 2 by the British Board of Film Classification, as announced yesterday. You should also all be aware by now that European members of the Destructoid community have had enough and will soon mount our official response very, very soon. The news has lit a fire underneath me, as it has my fellow British editor, David Houghton and between us, you can expect some brand new items regarding the fair and just treatment of videogames in the near future.
But to business. Yesterday, I emailed the BBFC, the group who tested and currently refuse to rate Rockstar's Manhunt 2, to share with them my impassioned thoughts on the issue. More or less restating the comments from my original news report, I did not hold back in my remonstration of the decision. The BBFC, through their Policy Chief Assistant J L Green, has sent me a reply, contained after the jump, in which they detail how they tested the videogame and where you can go if you wish to view the BBFC's extensive guidelines for yourself.
More after the jump.
Firstly, this is the email I sent to the BBFC. As stated earlier, it was a reworked version of my post-jump thoughts on my original story concerning the banning. Included for completion's sake, you may wish to skip this email if you've read the first story:
My name's Jim Sterling, a videogame journalist who works for Destructoid.com and who had to report for his site earlier today that you'd decided to effectively ban Manhunt 2 in the UK. I find this news depressing beyond all reason. I didn't even like the first Manhunt, but for this game to be banned because a select group, a small part of the population won't let us decide what media we can and cannot handle is just a shocking example of how farcical this country has become.
Hardcore pornography is legal, movies show shocking and deplorable acts time and time again, but because this is a videogame, we in the United Kingdom have suddenly been told we're not allowed to experience it. This is the kind of sickening double standard that an industry that rakes in more money than Hollywood has to deal with and we, the consumers, are the ones who get punished. What will it take for this childish and reactionary prejudice against videogames to end?
To claim that this game is harmful is a statement of purest arrogance. I would optimistically hope that the BBFC actually played this game before banning it - are your testers harmed in any way, shape or form by what they saw, or believe they saw? Evidently not, if they are not in therapy currently and were mentally capable enough to ban the game, so what justification do you have to just assume that everyone else is too weak to handle playing it? That's an insult to adult gamers up and down the country and I choose to take that insult personally. I'm 23 years old and I don't live with mummy anymore, I should be able to make my own decisions about what videogames I can safely play.
It just fills me with an icy dread that this is merely the beginning. Once an action is taken and succeeds, it becomes consequentially easier for that action to happen again and again. I hope Rockstar fights this and I hope Rockstar wins, not just for its own game, but for every game that could potentially fall victim to the whims of the few.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a game to import.
On principal alone.
Thank you for your time and for any general, copy/paste reply I may recieve,
Indignant and emotive, yes, but you guys know how I roll by now. Enough about me though, here's the main event, the BBFC's official, Dtoid-exclusive response on this issue:
Dear Jim Sterling
Thank you for your email and your interesting comments.
The BBFC has considerable experience in classifying games, and we employ
several highly knowledgeable and experienced gamers as examiners. Although
it was not possible to play the game in its entirety, a significant sample
of MANHUNT 2 was played and examined by a number of our examiners, both
gamers and non-gamers, before a classification decision was made. We also
have access to various cheats and 'God' modes, provided by the company, to
enhance greater access to all parts of the game. All our classification
decisions are made in line with our published guidelines. These guidelines
are available on our main website - http://www.bbfc.co.uk - under the
section entitled 'downloads'.
You will find it useful to read our press release regarding our decision on
MANHUNT 2. This is available on our main website - http://www.bbfc.co.uk -
under the section entitled 'news', and then 'press'. The release is dated
19 June 2007.
You also like to read our recent video game research published earlier this
year. This study is also available on our main website under the section
I can also assure you that this response is neither a 'general' one nor a
cut and paste job.
J L Green
Chief Assistant (Policy)
I thank Mr. Green for his personal (and amusingly sarcastic) response to my email, but what do we think? Did he answer the questions this issue raises to a satisfactory level? Considering many of my points were not addressed in the least (I seriously want to know what damage was done to the BBFC's testers), I have to say that I'm not entirely satiated by what I have been told.
You can guarantee that more comprehensive answers on not just this issue, but many issues involving the unbiased and equal treatment of videogames will be actively sought out from this point forward. Stay tuned to Destructoid for upcoming news regarding just how these answers are being searched for.
Remember, this is not just about Manhunt 2, this is about videogames.