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Censorship Entertainment Games

Manhunt 2 Banned In Britain 593

Posted by Zonk
from the wii-controls-make-it-that-much-squickier dept.
westlake writes "Rockstar's Manhunt 2 has been banned in the U.K. for what the British Board of Film Classification calls its 'unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying.' 'There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged, in the game.' The company has six weeks to submit an appeal. The last game to be refused classification was Carmageddon in 1997. That decision was later overturned via the appeals process."
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Manhunt 2 Banned In Britain

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  • How dare they! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by godfra (839112) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:05AM (#19565953) Journal
    If this game gets released for the PC I'm going to import it out of principle. Now, where did I leave my hammer again?
    • by BlackCobra43 (596714) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:21AM (#19566211)
      buried in my skull. Please take it out soon, it's starting to really itch.
    • Import, people, import. It's a free market, and the game will be on sale in France/Italy/Netherlands etc. Generally, games in these markets are either completely untranslated (except the manual) or still have English available as an option.

      I wasn't particularly interested in this game but will now certainly be buying it - aside from a simple anti-censorship protest I also want to know what's considered bad enough to get banned!
  • by bmw (115903) * on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:06AM (#19565965)
    It lets me know which ones to buy.
    • Because in a hundred years "Manhunt 2" will be remembered as 2007's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" or "Of Mice and Men."

      But, yeah, censorship is what it is, regardless of the relative worth of the item in question, which in this case is about zilch.

  • Great advertising.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:06AM (#19565967)
    Manhunt 2, available soon in the US on the Wii...
    GamePro gives it 8/10.
    IGN rated 9.5/10.
    British Board of Film Classification calls its 'unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying.' 'There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged, in the game.'
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      I didn't read your title before the post, and my thought was 'wow, that sounds like fun.' lol I don't usually even -like- those kinds of games. I think it's the 'sustained and cumulative casual sadism' bit... Very intriguing.
  • distasteful maybe, responsible for murders no. The people that do such crimes are crazy psychos t begin with yet instead of blaming the damn psycho for what they do they blame the game they may or may not have played.
    • The problem is that for that tiny minority of nut jobs out there, games like can help fuel their little deluded fantasies. Unfortunately that makes these games high visibility, easy targets so the system can pretend its doing something to protect society rather than working out how to do the hard bit which is identify and treat these nut jobs before they go postal.
  • The idea is dumb. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:09AM (#19565997) Homepage
    The very idea of banning ANYTHING entertainment-related in a 1st world country/area is completely stupid.

    Any newscast will be covering events at least as horrible if not worse than anythin you will find in a video game. The difference is, when you hear about someone getting brutally murdered on the news, a person actually died.

    I've always felt those that say videogames/movies/whatever that are too violent are the sick ones, for they apparently cannot discern fantasy from reality.
    • by Traa (158207) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:37AM (#19566445) Homepage Journal
      The very idea of banning ANYTHING entertainment-related in a 1st world country/area is completely stupid.

      The key here is "entertainment-related". So where do you draw the line when games cross from entertainment into objectionable content? Which of the following do you consider harmless fun if depicted in a video game:

      killing monsters
      killing people
      killing cops
      clubbing baby seals
      sadism
      extreme brutal violence
      sex
      porn
      kiddie porn
      snuff

      For me, there are a few things on that list that I have no problem with if they are banned. There is no entertainment value to be gotten from them except for people who need help.
      • by Pojut (1027544)
        Honestly, the only thing in there for me would be kiddie porn, and that's only because children are too young to know what they were doing.

        There is no entertainment value to be gotten from them except for people who need help.

        Based on the number of people that are currently seeing psychologists on a monthly/weekly/daily basis, that would imply the market for it is rather huge. Beyond that though, never forget one thing: the outlet for your frustration and anger is NOT the same as everyone elses. Many peop

      • by clem (5683) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @12:24PM (#19567133) Homepage
        Having read your list, all I can think of is the potential of the Wii controller for an immersive baby seal clubbing game. Well, that and those two Japanese gents from the ad campaign playing the baby seal clubbing game.
    • There is strong evidence that exposure to violence, even in a 'fantasy setting', desensitizes real people to violence. I don't care what anyone does to a movie or video character (fiction), but I do care if a violent game/move results in measurable increases in violence in the real world. As I understand the literature in the field (which is limited because I am not an expert in psychology/sociology/psychiatry ), these really are correlated and this correlation suggest that some movies/video games can be
    • The difference is, when you hear about someone getting brutally murdered on the news, a person actually died.

      Another difference is when you play the game, you are doing the killing. I'm not for banning video games, but let's not dismiss entirely the consequences of such a simulation. Simulating the performance of violent acts does have some overlap with actually committing them. Imagining action and watching actions all recruit the brain's circuitry for action planning and performance (see mirror neur [wikipedia.org]

  • Will it help? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by saibot834 (1061528) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:09AM (#19565999) Homepage
    The question is: will it help? In Germany they also have a big controversy about violence in computer games (they call it "killergames" / de: "Killerspiele"). But the politicians don't ask them self if banning a computer game stops the users from using it. If the children can't buy it at the store, they'll just download it from the bittorent or edonkey network. And if they don't have an internet connection, they copy it from their friends. Children are not stupid.

    Another question is: is this appropriate? I can truly understand that the politicians don't want to promote violence in games, but it's one thing to not like something and a complete other thing to ban/censor something.
    • Re:Will it help? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by glesga_kiss (596639) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:26AM (#19566291)

      If the children can't buy it at the store, they'll just download it from the bittorent or edonkey network.

      And the best way to make children want something is to tell them that they cannot have it.

    • by f1055man (951955)
      A commentary, the angry german kid playing Halo: http://youtube.com/watch?v=kBVmfIUR1DA [youtube.com]
    • Re:Will it help? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Awful Truth (766991) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @01:14PM (#19567917)
      Devil's advocate here:

      Suppose

      1) you really believe exposure to violent games leads to a more casual attitude towards violence. I think there's evidence both for and against that theory right now, so it's not an unreasonable belief, if still unproven. And

      2) You don't consider video games to be a protected form of expression -- that they're just toys, rather than artistic vehicles. Hey, they're called "games" for a reason. Maybe this is not a popular perspective on Slashdot, but again, not totally unreasonable.

      Sure, the kiddies are going to download this via torrents, but Rockstar won't make any revenue from these downloads. If Rockstar doesn't profit from this game, they won't produce violent ones in the future. If you believe these things to be true, then a ban is a very effective way of influencing the future content of games.
  • by TheThiefMaster (992038) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:10AM (#19566029)
    From the Wikipedia article for Manhunt [wikipedia.org]:

    In the UK, the game was linked to the murder of Stefan Pakeerah, 14, by his friend Warren Leblanc, 17. Giselle Pakeerah, the victim's mother, claimed that Leblanc had been 'obsessed' with the game after the former pleaded guilty in court. During the subsequent media circus, the game was removed from sale by some vendors, such as the UK and international branches of GAME and Dixons, leading to "significantly increased" demand both from retailers and on internet auction sites. The police denied any such link between the game and the murder however, citing drug-related robbery as the motive. The presiding judge also placed sole responsibility with Leblanc in his summing up after awarding him a life sentence. GAME have since returned Manhunt to their shelves, after it transpired that the murderer did not even own or ever play the game. It was apparently the victim who owned a copy of Manhunt, even though he was under 18.
    • If someone's so mentally unstable that they might conceivably go out and kill someone after playing a violent video game, perhaps the problem is with their mental stability than the videogame.
    • So despite the fact that the murderer never owned or played the game, the parents of the victim still blame the game for their son's death.

      I thought the standard for when bad things happen without an apparent reason was to blame God. That at least makes some sense, rather than some video game that the killer never played.
      • by Kadin2048 (468275) *
        So despite the fact that the murderer never owned or played the game, the parents of the victim still blame the game for their son's death.

        Well, yeah. I mean, the alternative is the truth, which is that their little angel got killed in a drug deal gone bad, when he was presumably still living in their house, under their care. Oops.

        Much easier to blame it on the big bad video games.
      • by bri2000 (931484)
        There's a fairly sick tendency in the British press to exploit murders (especially murders of children or young people) to make political points. From what I remember of this case (from an analysis of it in Private Eye a couple of years back) a reporter for the Sun approached the parents and made a lot of false claims to them about the killer and the game which led to him getting the quotes he wanted which allowed him to write the anti-video games story his editor wanted. And, of course, under the bizarre r
    • So you're saying that even knowing someone who owns manhunt can turn you into a killer?

    • by @madeus (24818) <slashdot_24818@mac.com> on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:26AM (#19566293)
      Yep, and both parents of the murdered 14 year old said they used to play it together (which the police said was not true and went out of their way to state very clearly it wasn't a factor as the killer had never played it, that newspaper reports to the contrary were incorrect and that the motive was robbery).

      Yet still both parents of the victim hold the game responsible - even though the only person involved who owned or had played a copy was the victim! They have not explained why their 14 year old child was allowed this 18 certificate game when they thought it was so deplorable - however they have the nerve to accuse Rockstar of being irresponsible. Given by their own admission, they were blatantly aware their 14 year old had this 18 certificate game and used to let him play it, that's somewhat ironic. I fully expect they even bought it for him.

      Of course, the press (The Sun, The Mirror, GMTV, The BBC) didn't bother to correct their stories when it transpired they had been grossly misreporting the story for months (even after the police had been very clear in saying what the press was reporting was incorrect).

      • by @madeus (24818)
        Oh, and there are some really choice quotes from the (understandably) distraught parents that make a big deal of how "evil" the killer was and how he was specifically evil because he was deceptive and that was the "worst kind of evil". Considering they committed perjury by making false statements in court (in addition to reciting them to the press) that strikes me as a bit rich.
  • Somehow, I can't help but think this is an overreaction and even unfair.

    I didn't enjoy the first Manhunt. This is partly due to the initial description a friend of mine gave. I was under the impression it was a far more open game than it was. The gameplay simply wasn't fun for me, snuff genre aside.

    However, I wouldn't for a moment consider banning the game. Violent, yes. Gruesome, yes. Morally dubious, yes. However, so are lots and lots of movies, books, and the news. There are plenty of movies I've seen in
  • by Xest (935314) * on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:12AM (#19566069)
    What the BBC report fails to mention is that the copy of Manhunt involved in the Stephen Pakeerah case was actually owned by the murdered boy not the murderer - this is something that was acknowledged by the police.

    Whilst the BBC report mentions that the police have come forward to say that the game had no impact on the killing, it's sad that they omit the very fact that frees the game from any blame, that as mentioned above, the victim owned the game. To me this suggests that they were clutching at straws to find an example of why the game should indeed be banned, and when unable to find one figured they'd use the next best thing and omit the facts that would negate the use of this example.

    Of course, it was only yesterday we were hearing about how the BBC has a serious bias problem in it's reporting, so it really comes as no suprise. It's just a shame that only a day later they insist on proving their fault with the fact they once more publish half truths and bring up an irrelevant murder to try and justify the ban.

    I'd argue, that the whole reason Manhunt 2 has been banned is not because there is a problem with the game as such, but because the BBFC felt it had no choice due to the public uproar various anti-video game media establishments like the BBC have produced - you only have to look at this weeks Panorama for a top notch example of the problem. How could the BBFC allow a game to be published, that as far as the general public know is responsible for a murder? It's hard to blame the BBFC on this one but easy to see that the British media is the real problem here.
    • by john83 (923470)

      I'd argue, that the whole reason Manhunt 2 has been banned is not because there is a problem with the game as such, but because the BBFC felt it had no choice due to the public uproar various anti-video game media establishments like the BBC have produced - you only have to look at this weeks Panorama for a top notch example of the problem.

      Panorama's gone to hell since it became weekly. That shift is an example of one of the main causes of shoddy journalism today - overworked journos trying to meet deadlines, leaving no time to do any proper investigative reporting.

  • by Syncerus (213609) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:14AM (#19566089)
    Well, England is a country that believes firmly that firearms cause murder and that the best way to promote civil rights is to have 100,000 cameras filming the public at all times. Whatever happened to punishing the guilty and letting the rest of us move on with our lives? You can't protect people from themselves.

    Nobody needs the government to tell them what games to play. They're just games, and what people do after playing the game is THEIR responsibility. No video game is going to MAKE someone commit a murder. It's FANTASY and a healthy way to release aggression in a harmless way. Sigh.

    I love Britain, and have visited many times; but they look like they are heading down the slow road to Hell.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This is why I hate articles about Britain being posted on Slashdot. We can expect 1,000 smug Americans *sighing* with mock sympathy about our nanny / fascist / police state. Why did you bring firearms in to this debate? No English person (of sound mind) would wish it to be even EASIER for kids to get guns than it arleady is. The logic that applies in America simply doesn't apply here.

      I'm British - I'm disgusted by this banning, but it's not the end of civilisation. But what I don't understand is this: when
    • I love Britain, and have visited many times; but they look like they are heading down the slow road to Hell.

      I assume that you are from the US. I think perhaps you are rather further down the road to Hell than Britain, particularly with respect to violent crimes, the odd gun massacre and a disproportionate number of crazys.

      Just because it is fantasy does not make it harmless, for example [bbc.co.uk]. Maybe you would argue that such censorship is another infraction of your civil rights. However there are some serio

    • by GeckoX (259575) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:54AM (#19566705)
      I too am sick of the gun slant being thrown in everywhere.

      Off topic and unrelated, but here it is at it's base. By your statements, I'd expect that if someone suggested handing guns out to all students it would be OK. And that we shouldn't worry about what might happen, rather, just put the kids that inevitably do commit murder in jail.

      Maybe we should do the same with drugs, make them freely available to all, throw the abusers in jail or let them wither away in the streets, they made a choice and get their just deserts.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm not in favor of the current British police state...way too Orwellian for comfort...however, give it up already. Gun control is not inherently a bad thing. On the contrary, unrestricted access to firearms is definitely a problem.

      No, guns don't kill people. People kill people...with guns. How many people have died in bar fights because a gun was pulled when what SHOULD have happened if anything were for the parties to drag their beaten asses home and live to learn from their mistakes. Just one simple example. I don't give a shit if you want to hunt, target shoot, whatever, go nuts. But if your motives are purely such, how can you possibly argue against doing so with proper legal controls in place? Why must you insist on being able to buy a concealable handgun with no other merits other than to kill?

      Irregardless of how you live where you do, why must you further condemn every other country that disagrees? Other countries that have much MUCH lower death and injury rates due to firearms? Psychopath actually is a very fitting term for people that do.
    • by westlake (615356) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @12:23PM (#19567111)
      Well, England is a country that believes firmly that firearms cause murder and that the best way to promote civil rights is to have 100,000 cameras filming the public at all times.

      These stats are a bit dated, but still suggestive:

      Gun deaths per 100,000 population

      US Homicide 4.08 Suicide 6.08 Accidental 0.42 [1999]
      UK Homicide 0.12 Suicide 0.25 Accidental 0.01 {1999] [*slightly simplified] Some Facts About Guns [gun-control-network.org]

      There were 765 homicides in England and Wales in 2005/2006. The numbers are small enough that the work of a single serial killer or a lone terrorist incident can be visible on the charts. 'Homicide' - Long-term national recorded crime trend [crimestatistics.org.uk]

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by grassy_knoll (412409)
        From another view, there's this [statemaster.com].

        Note that Washington DC leads the nation in per-capita violent crime, even though they have very restrictive firearms ownership laws ( until recently, private ownership of handguns was illegal ).

        Number 49 on the list, Vermont, permits it's citizens to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

        So, to those who think more restrictive firearms laws somehow equal a safer society... would you care to explain that?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by pi_rules (123171)

          Note that Washington DC leads the nation in per-capita violent crime, even though they have very restrictive firearms ownership laws ( until recently, private ownership of handguns was illegal ).

          Still is, actually. The law was struck down in the Parker case but still remains in effect while DC appeals the decision.

          There was some movement in Congress to repeal the law after Parker won but it didn't go anywhere, nor would I want it to go anywhere, as that would strike the case as moot and the Supreme Court w

    • by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @01:06PM (#19567769) Journal
      I love Britain, and have visited many times; but they look like they are heading down the slow road to Hell.

      We're trying hard, I tell you but, gosh, darnit, you Americans are hogging the fast lanes in your SUVs.
  • by pembo13 (770295) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:14AM (#19566093) Homepage
    Is Manhunt 2 better than Clockwork Orange? Because I liked that movie. Hope Manhunt 2 comes out for Wii.
    • by mccalli (323026)
      Clockwork Orange was never banned in the UK, it was withdrawn as a self-imposed gesture by Kubrick himself. You'll notice that the moment he died, Clockwork Orange was available for sale in the UK again.

      Cheers,
      Ian
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:19AM (#19566179) Homepage
    "Rockstar's Manhunt 2 has been banned in the U.K. for what the British Board of Film Classification calls its 'unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying.'


    But that's what makes it FUN!
  • by bestinshow (985111) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:23AM (#19566253)
    The issue is that the game will be played by people under the age of 18, even if they can't buy it. Leaving aside the matter of downloading the game from the internet, most parents seem happy to buy games rated 18 for their 12-17 year old offspring without a second thought.

    Ratings on games are ignored far more (and by a larger age gap) than ratings on movies. Probably because of the word 'game'. Even if the stores hold up the game's rating at the point of sale, the parents will still go and buy their kid the game for them.

    This is the situation in the murder case - the parent's bought their 14 year old sun an 18 certificate game. Aside from that irresponsible act, it had nothing to do with the child's death unless he was goading on a drug addled thug with themes from the game.

    99% of kids of 14+ can handle 18 films and games without an issue I'd hazard a guess. However that other 1% can cause a lot of issues, hence the ratings.

    I'm totally against bans however. I think the game should be made available, but not via the usual routes. Sell it in sex shops, so adults can buy it, but they'll stop and think about why their getting their 12 year old kid something from a sex shop. If they're happy to buy their kid things from a sex shop, then quite clearly the game isn't the issue at fault anyway.
    • by Sciros (986030)
      LOL are you serious? Sex shops? I think you should also register to vote in sex shops. And also perhaps enlist for the military there while you're at it. It'll be a "one stop shop" :rolleyes:

      Nevermind that in the US the general policy is 17+ for "mature" games and movies but 18+ for adult-rated content, so that doesn't even make sense outside of the UK.
  • Carmageddon (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Glacial Wanderer (962045) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @11:27AM (#19566305) Homepage
    Best physics
    Best scoring system
    Best audio
    Best gameplay

    Very possibly the best game ever! I think my entire floor in the dorms got addicted to this game (yes, it was an all male floor at an engineering school). I never would have guessed that senseless exaggerated violence with a buggy rubber band physics system could have been so much fun.
  • When you outlaw the electro pedestrian bastard rays, only outlaws will have the electro pedestrian bastard rays!
  • Anybody remember the senate hearing from the '80s in which the Tipper Gore lead "Parents Music Resource Center" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parents_Music_Resour c e_Center [wikipedia.org] tried to ban 20 or so albums due to excessive sex/violence in Rock music? They ended up putting a big black sticker that said "May contain..." which eventually became a beacon to kids to buy the album.

    I welcome a new "Tipper Sticker" as now I'll know which games to buy.

    To quote Dee Snider,

    "The full responsibility for defending children falls on the shoulders of my wife and I, because there is no one else capable of making these judgments for us."

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Anybody remember the senate hearing from the '80s in which the Tipper Gore lead "Parents Music Resource Center" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parents_Music_Resourc [wikipedia.org] e_Center tried to ban 20 or so albums due to excessive sex/violence in Rock music? They ended up putting a big black sticker that said "May contain..." which eventually became a beacon to kids to buy the album.

      It also turned out to be a fairly effective form of censorship. Certain outlets, primary among them Wal-Mart (second-largest employer in

  • The least of which is the movie they just saw or the video game they just played. He probably displayed other anti-social behavior in the past. (Not silly things like black trench coats but actually physical assault, fascination with violence, and possibly killing pets or other small animals). The VA Tech shooter was a text book example of "missed warning signs." While that's not my favorite genre of games I think that claiming the game made him do it is up there with witches' spells and demonic posessi
  • It appears to be human nature to find an easily definable cause for a problem. Games are easy. Games based on violence are easier. There seems to be a compelling need in the mind to find a cause, or scape goat, to satisfy our emotional needs. Politics makes good bed fellows for these emotional compulsions. I believe there will still be violence and murder even if all video games were banned; then we would just seek out another scape goat.

    It's interesting that I never even heard of this game until the contro
  • In other news... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OctoberSky (888619) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @12:34PM (#19567279)
    Hostel II, the movie about rape/murder/torture/death/slashing/etc, was 5th in terms of revenues for this last weekend in the UK.
  • and... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nanosquid (1074949) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @01:00PM (#19567667)
    How are sadistic killings and relentless manhunts different from standard Hollywood movies or TV series?

    Disembowelment, shots to the head, criminally insane killers, rape, torture, etc., they all seem to be standard plot devices in movies and even TV shows.
  • Banned for whom? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jugalator (259273) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @01:12PM (#19567879) Journal
    Oh... adults! Yes, clearly those "adult" bastards can not be trusted. A movie board is much better off deciding what's best like them. Kiddos!

    Seriously, why can even movies be "banned"?

    Because this movie, unlike any other gory action movie, will inspire murderers and they won't be inspired by anything else either? :-S

"Never ascribe to malice that which is caused by greed and ignorance." -- Cal Keegan

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