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The ESRB, Earmarks, and Manhunt 2 in Game Politics 48

Posted by Zonk
from the sucker-punching-senators-like-rockstars dept.
GamePolitics has a number of interesting posts up this week on developing stories. The ESRB has fired off a warning to 3D Realms over some out-of-date labeling on the Duke Nukem portion of their website. The organization says it's standard procedure, but 3D Realms co-founder Scott Miller views it as a 'sucker punch'. Meanwhile, Senators discussing earmarks for the year are in a row over videogames. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is resisting a $7.5 Million appropriation for an advanced computer system, which he 'compared ... to videogames.' Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) countered by noting that Coburn authorized spending that resulted in the creation of an actual videogame, the Full Spectrum Warrior title released by THQ. Finally, Rockstar has fired back at GamesIndustry.biz. The respected European news site wrote a blistering editorial when the Manhunt 2 kerfuffle first started, saying that Rockstar was being 'juvenile, shameful, and irresponsible'. They've now responded: "What about games make them deserve special treatment from the authorities? According to industry groups, the average games player is in his or her 30s, yet you support the widely held view that games are somehow a less sophisticated medium than cinema, only suitable for immature audiences. In other words, although gamers can negotiate the boundaries between reality and fiction in other media, you believe we are incapable of navigating the same boundaries in videogames ... We believe in a well-run ratings system. With the best rating system in history and the future of the industry and medium at stake, we don't understand why it is necessary to effectively ban all games intended for players 18 and older."
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The ESRB, Earmarks, and Manhunt 2 in Game Politics

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  • For being a voluntary rating system. It's grown out of control.

    Bend to the will of the Enclave of Seriously Ridiculous Bureaucrats!

    I, for one, do *NOT* welcome our new ESRB overlords.
    • They enforced part of their contract in an ongoing attempt to cover the industries ass for the next big thing that involves games. They are trying to prove they have a functional, well maintained, and consistent ratings system. They are trying to maintain advertising guidelines that the industry agreed to. They are trying to prove on the PR front that the ratings system isn't a sham.

      Really the only thing the ESRB can do is make two adult ratings, one for "adult violence" and one for "adult sexual". The ones
      • Thank you for making that distinction. The ESRB doesn't ban games. retailers and console manufacturers do. (In the US at least)
        • Not to say that I have no problems with the ESRB, they done some annoying things too, but so have the ESA and others.
    • by nuzak (959558)
      I prefer "Sanctimonious Repressive Bureaucrats" myself.
  • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @11:00AM (#19902235)
    Rockstar makes games that don't often appeal to me, but at the same time, games do receive a lot of undeserved flak. As has been said many times before, what makes this game worse than Hostel or Turistas? Do games deserve to be judged more harshly than any other medium?
    • by westlake (615356)
      what makes this game worse than Hostel or Turistas? Do games deserve to be judged more harshly than any other medium?

      You watch a movie for ninety minutes. You watch a movie from a physical and psychological distance. You do not act out the twist of the knife. You are not rewarded for the brutality of your kills.

      The "torture porn" of Hostel has become box office poison.

      Manhunt 2 is the video game equivalent of the exploitation flick that ups the ante but hits the screens after the audience has gone elsew

  • ... Hrmmmm (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    .. These problems will disappear when I can download the game directly to my console (see: steam).
    • by metamatic (202216)
      No they won't. Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft keep just as tight a rein on what you can download. It all has to be signed with their secret cryptographic keys.
      • Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft keep just as tight a rein on what you can download.
        Apple doesn't. So why don't more games come out on Apple's "Mac mini" console?
    • by westlake (615356)
      These problems will disappear when I can download the game directly to my console (see: steam).

      The console manufacturers don't need the grief.

      There will be federal legislation - demands for proof of age online that cannot be trivially compromised.

  • For all the controversy, Rockstar are one of the few development houses actively pushing video games to achieve the same status as other media.

    They've called the whole situation for what it is, ridiculous. Without such controversies, video games will never break out of the "juvenille" image so many people have of them.
  • ... for being one of the few developers still willing to take a risk in this industry. You refuse to play by anybody else's rules.

    I used to think that the "main-streamification" that began 10-15 years ago was a good thing. More people were playing games, which meant that because of the increase in sales, more games would be offered. Aw, if it only were that simple. Now most development houses are too cowardly to take a risk on a game that might fail. They would rather stick to the tried and true shovel
    • Um what has rockstar changed? 1:Make something violent and controversial. Make sure there is a hoopla about it. 2:??????? 3:Profit, rather well. Really none of the GTA games have been that big a departure, really They haven't been innovative. They have improved on a rather fun formula and added some nice social commentary and a rather funny, yet at the same time serious story. manhunt on the other hand... whats the point? All it seems to have are better graphics graphics and the Wii controller. What is g
      • bugger

        Um what has rockstar changed?
        1:Make something violent and controversial. Make sure there is a hoopla about it.
        2:???????
        3:Profit, rather well.

        Really none of the GTA games have been that big a departure. They really haven't been that innovative since GTA3. They have improved on a rather fun formula and added some nice social commentary and a rather funny, yet at the same time serious story.

        Manhunt on the other hand... whats the point? All it seems to have are better graphics graphics and the Wii control
        • Let my clarify for you: I am not necessarily saying Rockstar is the most innovative of developers. Rather, I am saying they seem to be one of the few left in the industry willing to take a risk. What other companies are pushing the boundaries of what we find acceptable in games? Rockstar has been doing this for sometime now. And it appears as though they may have finally found it.

          It will be interesting to see if Manhunt 2 is ever released and what changes they make in order for it to "comply." The only
  • by Satanboy (253169) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @11:26AM (#19902695)
    Since none of the three console producers will allow AO games, they have effectively ruined the rating system.

    If these companies would just allow all games to play on their systems without artificially hampering them, everyone would be happy. This issue has less to do with the ESRB and more to do with the foolishness of the console makers for stating that we, as adults, cannot judge for ourselves what we want to play.

    Imagine if your DVD players said 'this movie is too adult for you, you cannot play it' if you tried to play a John Waters film or a porno.

    Shame on Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo for preventing AO games from being able to play on their systems!
    • It would be kind of nice if they allowed the games but had a parental control option and required the game format to include its rating so that a parent could lock down a console to not play these games.

      This would seem to be a much better way of dealing with this. Hell, I dont even care if retail places wont carry AO titles, if they are available on the internet people might make them and eventually someone would make one that was really really good and had enough other merit that people might take notice.
      • by Winckle (870180)
        You know what the craziest part is?

        The console based parental restriction system you described is already in the wii, and probably in other next gen consoles as well.
      • It would be kind of nice if they allowed the games but had a parental control option and required the game format to include its rating so that a parent could lock down a console to not play these games.

        This exists in each of the current systems (Wii, PS3, 360) and is enforced for both retail games and downloadable content. They also as a matter of policy will only allow games that are rated by the ESRB (or whatever the local equivalent is) on their system.

        The exact scenario you described exists with

    • > Imagine if your DVD players said 'this movie is too adult for you, you cannot play it' if you tried to play a John Waters film or a porno.

      Most DVD players do have such lockout features. My player occasionally gets corrupted and locks EVERYTHING out -- have to reset the firmware to fix it.

      I'm all for controls in the console, but unfortunately the morality police won't be satisfied unless they personally control the distribution of everything.

    • by dufachi (973647)

      Imagine if your DVD players said 'this movie is too adult for you, you cannot play it' if you tried to play a John Waters film or a porno.
      OMG you mean it's not supposed to do that? How do I turn that off?! Must... have... pr0n!
    • Well, AO games can still be distributed for the PC although it would have to be by download since Walmart and the gaming stores wouldn't carry it.

      As you said, the console makers have made these decisions. But if they decide that the effort to police the sale of a game and the risk of bad press (see Hot Coffee Mod) is too high, they aren't going to make a decision to make something available, then there must be market forces that indicate there is something detrimental to making the game available. If that
    • A better analogy would be if a major movie studio decided they were not going to distribute a porno, which I'm pretty sure they wouldn't.

      Of course the analogy doesn't really match up, as the DVD players are a profitable item unto themselves, use an 'open' standard, and are made by people who don't also make movies. (And people make DVD's who don't make players)
    • by westlake (615356)
      Since none of the three console producers will allow AO games, they have effectively ruined the rating system. If these companies would just allow all games to play on their systems without artificially hampering them, everyone would be happy.

      Manhunt 2 is "adult entertainment" only in the sense that it rquires proof of age.

      One of the rewards of maturity is turning your back on the schlockmeister's blood and gore fest and admitting that you rather spend an evening out with Brad Bird, Tim Burton, Nick Pa

  • This also sounds like a dup...but then I realized it's just good Slashvertising.

    2 Manhunt 2 mentions in 2 different "stories" (blogfarts) in 2 days? It's a plant, Burt.
    • Considering you can't buy the game, I fail to see how this is "Slashvertising". The fact that we can't buy AO games because of the console makers is a big deal. Any gamer should be concerned that we are held to a different standard than other media. Of course, this will eventually get better with time. As the older generation that is scared of video games die off...those of us who grew up with it will take over.
      • Considering you can't buy the game, I fail to see how this is "Slashvertising".


        I can help with that part of your education too: look up "AIDA" somewhere. We're currently in the "Awareness" to "Interest" sections of Manhunt 2's marketing plan.
         
  • Oh noes! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Ecuador (740021)
    They demanded that 3D Realms updates their website. They were late with DNF as it was, if they also have web design tasks, I am afraid they might never finish it...
  • Choice (Score:1, Redundant)

    by hellfire (86129)
    Just to make a point...

    I don't like the Grand Theft Auto series, I don't like the concept behind manhunt 1 or 2. I think these games are overly juvenille and unentertaining. I also don't like slasher movies with incredible amounts of gore for the sake of gore, and I think gangster rap is crap.

    I like heroic and funny movies and games. I like movie soundtracks, folk music, upbeat rock n roll.

    I also like the fact that I can chose, like a grownup, what I do and do not like.

    Down with video game bans.
  • seen an NC-17 movie being played in a movie theater? Just a thought. If the ESRB ratings system roughly equates to the rating system of our other four-letter word friend, the MPAA, then EC~G,E~PG,T~PG-13,M~R,AO~NC-17.Then I would say that this does seem about right. If a game developer oversteps the "M" boundaries, is it really absurd to make them edit the game content to not receive an "AO" rating? Look at the number of films that have been rated NC-17 and then been edited down to R... http://en.wikipedia. [wikipedia.org]
    • by ivan256 (17499)
      I've seen at least one of the movies on that list which wasn't re-rated in an actual mainstream theatre....

      However, I've seen many of those movies released on DVD as "unrated" (really the original cut that got an NC-17 before editing) available for sale in stores like Target, or BestBuy, and they are playable in my DVD player (as are many more explicit titles). Unlike AO video games, NC-17 movies are available to purchase and play, whereas AO video games are essentially banned.
  • If I were Rockstar, I'd be saying "Hey, Sony, are you going to release Manhunt 2 as is, or are we going to make GTA IV be an Xbox 360 exclusive?"

    Then we'd see how quickly Sony caved.

    (GTA IV is the one thing currently making me think I might buy a PS3 before the end of the year.)

    ((Not that I have any interest in playing Manhunt 2.))
    • Except that from reports, it seems that the PS3 version is going to be the "definitive" version. Rockstar is having serious issues because they can't count on a Hard Drive being in the system; which essentially means no free swap space (Using the internal Hard Drive for memory swapping was a common thing on the original Xbox). The relatively small size of DVD's is also probably hampering development. Rockstar knows what they're doing of course, and they will/may have already find (found) a way around the
  • Senator Coburn has a long-standing record of fighting against pork barrel spending (aka the "earmarks" referenced in TFA). I can certainly understand how he would have approved spending for development of a videogame that is essentially a marketing tool for the military (and which ultimately paid for itself) while opposing the 21CSI project, which, as I understand it, has no clearly defined value whatsoever.

    I don't support Coburn's position on a great many issues, but as a porkbuster, he's virtually unriv

  • I do think there is a problem, and that's the inconsisistancy between game ratings and movie ratings. I have no problem with Manhunt 2 being rated AO (NC-17 equivelent), if there's any game that deserves this title on the basis of violence, it's probably this title. However, it is nothing compared to what the film industry is allowed to do. Hostel, Saw, Touristas and the like just as grim and violent, yet they somehow "buy" themselves out of the NC-17 rating. It really is the movie rating system that's corr
  • Please release on PC, maybe on STEAM or any other online system. That way the demographic tends to be older and you don't have rating issues.

Save gas, don't use the shell.

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