MORE Bad News for Rockstar: Wii-mote Control Prompts Demand That Manhunt 2 Be Adults-Only in North America

June 19, 2007 -

Around the offices of Take Two Interactive, they're likely calling this "Black Tuesday."

In the wake of this morning's word detailing Britain's ban on Manhunt 2 comes more bad news for publisher Take Two and developer Rockstar.

Citing concerns over the Nintendo Wii's popular motion control system, the Center for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) has demanded that Manhunt 2 be rated AO (adults only) by the ESRB. The game is scheduled for release in North America on July 9th. 

Although Manhunt 2's rating has not been made public to date, the ESRB says that it has already informed Take Two and Rockstar of the game's rating.

The watchdog group's demand was made this morning via letter to ESRB president Patricia Vance. In a press release, CCFC also says that it will launch a letter-writing campaign "so that parents and advocates for children could share their concerns."

AO ratings for commercial video games are virtually unheard of and are considered the kiss of death at retail, since many stores won't carry AO-rated titles. The only commercial game to receive an AO in recent memory was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas following the 2005 discovery of the notorious Hot Coffee animations and the game's subsequent recall.

From the CCFC press release:

In Manhunt 2, players can saw their enemies’ skulls in half; mutilate them with an axe; castrate them with a pair of pliers; and kill them by bashing their heads into an electrical box, where it is blown apart by a power surge.  On Wii, players will not merely punch buttons or wield a joy stick, but will actually act out this violence...

Said CCFC co-founder, Dr. Susan Linn of Harvard:

If ever there was a time for the ESRB’s strongest and most unambiguous rating, it is now. An Adults Only rating is the only way to limit children’s exposure to this unique combination of horrific violence and interactivity...

An “M” rating is more like a wink and a nod than an effective safeguard. The industry appears to be going through its paces, but as the FTC’s most recent data show, these games are still being marketed to children.

Also quoted in the CCFC press release is Dr. Michael Rich, Director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston:

Video games are among the most powerful educational tools yet developed... players experience and learn the game’s skills, whether they be based in strategy, logic, or violence. The content of Manhunt 2 and the unique physical interaction with the Wii control combine to take this simulation a level closer to reality - we can expect that the effects of this experience will be even greater. 

On June 6th GamePolitics broke the news that, prompted by Miami activist Jack Thompson, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum was looking into Manhunt 2 on the Wii. It is unknown what role, if any, Thompson may have played in the CCFC's action, but it's clear that he knew it was coming.

The original Manhunt, controversial in its own right, was rated M (17 and older) at the time of its release in 2003. In addition to the Wii version, Manhunt 2 is scheduled for release on PlayStation 2 and PSP.

A statement received by GamePolitics from ESRB president Patricia Vance said:

We have received the letter from CCFC and, while we might take issue with some of the statements made within, we sincerely appreciate their expressed concerns.  Our ratings are intended to provide guidance that allows parents to choose games they deem suitable for their children, and that is a responsibility we take extremely seriously.   

It should be noted that ESRB has already assigned a rating for the Wii, PS2 and PSP versions of Manhunt 2, and that rating has in fact already been communicated to the publisher.  However, we are unable to publicly release the rating at this time as it is our policy that ratings be posted to our website 30 days following assignment, unless the game is released prior to the end of that period. This is done to give publishers the opportunity to consider modifying and resubmitting their games for rating or appealing the rating assigned to our Appeals Board should they wish to do so.  We have not yet been notified by Rockstar as to what they intend to do with respect to our rating assignment.

GamePolitics Poll: Should Manhunt 2 be rated AO or M? We now have a poll running in the right sidebar. Be sure to vote.



You have to laugh at the yanks, you can buy a gun and blow someone away on your proprty but you can't by a video game where you don't really do it...mad!!

[...] Wii-Mote Control Prompts Demand That Manhunt 2 Be Adults-Only in North America - GP [Posted by Marxi Julien on Tuesday, June 19th, 2007 at 1:50 PM.] Click here to read more | Source [...]

So all games should now be rated based on how they control, not by their content according to them?

Let us all have a moment of silence for the great genre that was the light gun shooter.

*bows head*

I'll have to pick up another copy with my pre order in case it happens.

Blah, blah, should be up to parents, blah, blah, get the Government out of our lives, blah, blah, etc.

I'd like to say would be up to the parents they wouldn't let their kids play this game, but you can't speak for every individual. And every individuals choice matters, the Government shouldn't micromanage people's lives.

We elect them to be the servants, not the masters.

My personal opinion is that Manhunt 2 should be AO, but like the article said, it would hurt sales. I just want see an end to parents groups/half-wit politicians making overseeing ERSB committees and bad-pun ratings systems. Perhaps actually using the AO label would give the ESRB more clout. It could also stop any "violent game being marketed to children" propaganda in their tracks.

Would I buy this game? No. Not even remotely interested in it. I don't even own a Wii. Should it be sold? Yes. I might not want it, but someone else might. That's the beauty of living in a free-market economy in that there's always something to cater to your own tastes.

I hope the ESRB does not cave in to pressure on this, and they shouldn't. Hot Coffe was one thing, but now there are people out ther condemning a game they've hardly seen let alone played. It's almost like Bully times 10 now, even if Jack Thompson isn't directly involved he's still doing everything he can to stir the pot as it were.

Hopefully the ESRB will keep a level head in this and rate the game on its own merits as opposed to what everyone else wants it to be rated. If it's rated M, they can scream all they want about it. If anything, the ESRB can use this game to make a point that not all games are for kids, that some are actually intended for adults, and that the ratings need to be enforced and paid attention to.

If only we could convince retailers to carry AO games. They carry plenty of violent movies too.

But anyway, isn't the M descriptor "17 and up" while the AO descriptor is "18 and up"? Pretty pathetic, if you think about it, that such a fuss is being made over a one year difference.

"An Adults Only rating is the only way to limit children’s exposure to this unique combination of horrific violence and interactivity…"

Well that or, I don't know, RESPONSIBLE FUCKING PARENTING!!!

Y'know, I may just buy this game purely for all the hooplah surrounding it. Maybe send a message to these groups that all their yakking only gives the game a ton of free press.


So your going to buy 2 copies of a game if it gets a higher rating.... does that make any sense?

Where are they getting the line about castration from? I would really love to see a source for that one.

A few things about this that bother me.
1- A random watchdog group does not had the right to make demands to anyone. A few pissed of parents don't change anything.

2- The Wii had parentalc ontrols built in already. If your child somehow gets their hands on an M rate wii game (of which there are very few of) thena RESPONSIBLE parent would be able to stop that. Seriously, parents of the world, read the f***'ing manual!

3- Say the parents ignored point #2 and decided it's easier to do it the CCFC's way.. Well, the Wii has a built in function that tells you how long a game has been played that day. If your kid is spending 80 hours a week mutilating digital genitalia, then I think it's time for a talk.

On top of all of that, I still don't see how this game is being marketed to children. The game doesn't even have commercials out yet, and the kids that read the gaming magazines are old enough to know some semblance of right from wrong. The only thing these groups are doing is turning this game into a proverbial forbidden fruit to teenagers who fall into the 'unaderaged' grouping.

Long term, I wonder if there is a way to start changing the image of "AO" games so they are not, as was said, the kiss of death.

I could see the removal of the always rather silly "M" rating helping there. Or changing it's scope.

Getting the smaller retailers to change their policies would be another step. One might not be able to convince wallmart, but gamestop might be receptive.

Adults - myself included - are going to buy this game no matter what or where it's purchased. Personally I stay away from "Big Box" retailers where AO is an issue.

I do find it interesting that Manhunt2 is being released for the Wii. It just doesn't make sense - I have to admit that I view the Wii as something you play with the kids or Zelda or bowling. Family friendly - not Addams Family friendly.

It's funny. I've never played Manhunt (or any other FPS for that matter... besides FEAR) but all this hype that Manhunt II is getting is making me want to buy this game just to see what they're complaining about.

I guess it's true when they say... all press is good press.

This game is being marketed to kids solely on the basis that it is a video game. There is no other reason nor proof needed. The fact that it is a game imeans it is for kids.

I propose that we no longer call them "video games". I propose that we instead call them "entertainment software" That removes all doubt that they are games and for kids.

This manhunt thing, if what JT and CCFC say is true, would most likely get an AO rating. But could get an M rating. It all depends on how graphic the violence is and what sort of context it is in.

Who knows maybe this game will be the one that gets retailers to start carrying AO games. Sure they would keep them behind the counter but they would be there for the Adults who want them.

As for the M to AO ratings gap, maybe they should widen it. Make M 16+ or AO 21+ One or the other. One year difference really is kind of strange.

JB, Manhunt isn't an FPS. It's a third-person sneaking game (think Splinter Cell, Thief, etc.)

Frankly, I doubt that if the ESRB decides on an AO rating, it would hurt sales of the game. I don't really understand the distinction between M and AO anyway (aside from retail implications) but suffice it to say that I think the first Manhunt was deserving of an AO rating and there's no reason to think the sequel is scaled back, so it probably deserves one as well.

So how the hell is this game being marketed to children?
Did the ESRB give it an E for Everyone rating and broadcast commercials for it on Saturday morning cartoons. Seriously what the hell is wrong with these people. They are making a mountain out of a molehill.
Manhunt 2 is definetly an extremely violent game i have no doubt and yes, young children should not be playing it whatsoever but Manhunt 2 is no more being marketed to young children then Hostel 2 was. Trust me this has nothing to do with children otherwise this moralist bullshit group would be attacking movies, music and other media also.

P.S. - While i can understand that releasing this game on the kid friendly Nintendo Wii might not seem like a good idea but that doesn't mean it's being marketed to kids. Alot of teens and adults i know and work with love the Nintendo Wii, even more then the XBox 360 and PS3.

I lurk the blog here at GP (very nice stuff), and based on the stories I've read here, and elsewhere, I think it should be the parent's job to keep an eye on what their kids do. Assuming M games can only be sold to 18+ (I think. Maybe it's 17), then nobody below that age should have the game, unless a parent buys it for them. Therefore, the system works right up to the parent. See below.

ESRB rates ==> Retailers sell only to 18+ =/=> Parent gives game to child

I don't think we need watchdog groups to tell us that GAMES are the problem. The way I see it, parents need to step up to the plate. Would you let your child see an R rated movie? Then don't let them play an M rated game.

No I'm buying 1 to keep and 1 for eBay.

Seeing as the game is supposedly being created only for adults, it's not unreasonable to rate it AO. What's unreasonable is that game stores refuse to carry AO titles. If the industry doesn't take the ratings system seriously nobody else is going to. How can we say these sorts of things aren't for children, but then pretend as if the adult entertainment market doesn't exist? It's hypocrisy, and it's time to change it.

Just thinking - why wasn't there a big deal around Resident Evil or Scarface for the Wii? The graphic decapitations and assorted shocks in RE or the profanity and violence filled Scarface seem pretty adult oriented.

When all is said and done I think that gamer's & gamer culture don't have a thing to worry about. Growing up watchdog groups felt it necessary to shield me from slasher movies, gansta rap, Communism, and Dungeons & Dragons. This too shall pass.

So the UK has banned it, and the watchdog groups are panicking... and yet none of us have actually played the game OR even seen much in the way of videos.

I can picture mentally what the game will probably be like, and if it's in any way accurate then I would give it an AO rating, no question. But you can't just start making demands about a game that you haven't yet played.

As far as retail outlets go, Manhunt isn't exactly a mainstream title. It is aimed at a niche audience, an audience that will actively seek out the game. If it isn't on Wal-Marts shelf it might hurt sales a bit, but to say it's the kiss of death is probably an overreaction in this particular circumstance. Very few people will be impulse buying Manhunt on a whim, and there will be plenty of access to the game if the fans know where to look (boutiques, music/video stores, online).

manhunt+wii+contravercy=SALES[now the wii prints money]
unfortunatly early 3rd party games on the wii are destined to suck.

i say im don't care cause manhunt 1 sucked, it was mostly shock appeal.

let jack win this one...than CRUSH HIM LIKE A BUG!!!!!!!

dude.. the wii has been printing money for a while now.

This is the biggest bloody joke I have ever seen. The CCFC is a joke in itself, but demanding that the ESRB set it to AO? WHAT A JOKE! Down with soccer moms/parents groups/child advocates that dont know a jack SHIT to what the are talking about. As for the UK "banning" it, someone can take their PS2/Wii over to France, buy it there, pop it into their PS2/Wii and come right back across the border. They'll never know.

"An “M” rating is more like a wink and a nod than an effective safeguard. The industry appears to be going through its paces, but as the FTC’s most recent data show, these games are still being marketed to children."

What? I'm sorry, but since when has it became the retailer and the ESRB's job to make games that are specifically for ADULTS unavailable for children? Whatever happened to a thing called "Parental Responsibility"?

On a second note (sorry for double post), I'm not interested in the least in the game, and I would get the 360 version anyways, but i sincerely think that this game (probably) deserves the same rating as the version for the 360

"Just thinking - why wasn’t there a big deal around Resident Evil or Scarface for the Wii? The graphic decapitations and assorted shocks in RE or the profanity and violence filled Scarface seem pretty adult oriented."

No offense meant, but this argument (which gamers make all the time for some reason) makes us look pretty ignorant. It's pretty clear that to the average thinking person, onscreen decapitations are a far cry from physically acting out garroting somebody or slitting their throat. Resident Evils violence is passive, Manhunts is (supposedly) very interactive. There's a big (*big*) difference between aiming a pointer around on a screen to shoot a virtual gun at zombies or mobsters and the methodical multi-motion sequences re-enacting a brutal murder that Manhunt gleefully advertises as it's defining feature.

You also have to take more into account than just the existence of the violence. The context is just as important: Resident Evil is you versus the zombies in a Hollywood style adventure and the stylized, over-the-top violence is a staple of the horror genre. Manhunt is based on snuff films, movies that are meant to depict real-world death, and the violence is as gruesome and painful as they can make it, intentionally trying to disturb and offend the viewer. Both of these are valid artistic uses for extreme violence, but they require different considerations when rating. Personally I can't stomach the very concept of Manhunt, while in Resident Evil I'm always going for head-shots.

Once again, I'm not going to say that Manhunt definitely deserves an AO rating, because I've never played it. But arguing that it doesn't deserve one is equally pointless, the definition of "violence" is not that black & white.

Apologies to Joshua for picking on his post here. You're not the only one to say something like this, but hopefully by responding to it others will read it as well and put a bit more thought into the situation before they make such poor analogies.

You know what? I'm sick and tired of gamers rehashing the same old "parents should watch what their kids play!" argument every single time something like this happens. The ESRB is there to rate games and give parents trustworthy information, but the difference between an M rating and an AO rating is such a joke; one year? Come on, that's a load of nonsense and you know it. There shouldn't even be any differentiation. We shouldn't have "Rated M" and "Rated AO." We should just have "Rated AO" period. The comment about M being a wink and a nod is totally accurate; it's a useless rating, because lots of stores still don't card you for a rated M game.

I agree that parents need to be involved, but you know what? The industry DOES count on KIDS playing games like this, whether they admit it or not. And I'm not talking about 9 year olds; I'm talking about 14-16 year old gamers who quite possibly THINK they're mature enough to play games like this. And while they may not be mature enough, they're certainly smart enough to work past all those safeguards like built-in parental controls.

One of the ratings needs to be abolished, and the retailers need to get their act together and support the industry instead of allowing a rating to completely kill the sales of a game.

This is a losing situation either way for the ESRB. If they rate if M, they will be called on for not "protecting teh children." If they rate if AO, it's essentially the kiss of death, sales wise.

I’m talking about 14-16 year old gamers who quite possibly THINK they’re mature enough to play games like this.

Personally by the time a person reaches that age they should be able to play any game they want. With the exception of young children (who don't yet have the full capability to understand the difference between right and wrong, reality and fantasy and what is and isn't acceptable to do in real life) age limits IMHO are extremely arbitrary. It absolutly rediculous to believe that once a person reaches some magical arbitrary age limit they are suddenly and miraculously able to handle the content and withstand the supposed *cough* Bullshit *cough* negative effects of the game in question. But before they reach that magical arbitrary age they are not.
The fact of the matter is there are loads of teenagers who can handle these games perfectly fine and loads of adults who cannot not. People have really got to stop basing everthing on age. Yes, age does play a part but a much, much smaller part (esspecially for teens) then people make it out to be.

Manhunt 2 Told Us It Was Hardcore...

With the (still planned) upcoming release of Manhunt 2 for the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 2, and Sony PlayStation Portable just weeks away, the time has come for the outrage and the bannings over the content found within developer Rockstar's...

This is an exact quote from the esrb web site.

Titles rated AO (Adults Only) have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.

Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for person’s ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

You know reading this; I can think of a few other games that I have played that probably should have been AO rather than M. Like Resident Evil (Chainsaw death scene) and Silent Hill 2 (Pyramid head doing his thing with the things while buddy hides in the closet... um yeah). Great games but thinking back on it after looking at the difference in the categories, giving them M ratings really isn't enough and I do hope that Manhunt 2 gets it, if it is as violent as everyone, including its creators, make it out to be.

I'm probably gonna get crucified for saying this, but I sort of understand where they're coming from, and I agree -to a certain extent-. It's a little bit...odd to wield a shard of glass to cut someone's throat with a wiimote, and I can definettly see what they mean by "active participation". It makes me vaguely uncomfortable, to be honest, to be able to not just smash the B button or whatever to kill someone, but to swing the controller instead. Now, that said, I somewhat agree with the AO rating. If that wasn't, as GP said, a kiss of death, it may well be warranted. Not because the game is marketed to children, but because it's...I dunno, a little weird.

Of course, I have no problem with copious and frequent Lancer bayonet kills in Gears of War, so color me hypocritical. I do think, however, that this game might be getting a bit too close to the borders of good taste.

Don't ban it, don't censor it, but give the proper information so consumers can make the right choice for themselves. Maybe slap a non-obtrusive but visible
"This game not intended for people under X years of age" on the front for games like this, just to get the point across to the willfully blind parents and cashiers out there.

Just my 2 cents.

[...] Click here for Report [...]

An 'AO' rating means nothing. The game will still sell well enough to kids, adults etc. Parents will still ignore their children and claim ignorance when said child kills. Besides, what parent allows their child to be 'un cool'? Bad karma all around for Take Two as they suck up to the m$ tit over GTVI download content to the tune of $50 million. Reap what you've sewn Take Two, REAP IT.

The flaws ESRB rating system at work.

@Shariq Ansari:
I agree with a few of your points; M and AO should be merged/changed. The retail industry should figure out a kid-friendly (in that it prevents kids from getting their hands on it) way to sell AO games.

I'd suggest a 15+ rating for things like Half-Life (shooting, some blood, but nothing over the top) and an 18+ rating for this. I'd like to see them both in the same store, and (eventually) be able to buy them both. R movies are sold next to G movies. Why not sell 18+ games next to (roughly) 15+ games?

However, the changes that would require to the industry won't happen overnight. Guesstimating, I'd say at least several months would be required. Until something like that happens, I think it's the parent's job to monitor what his kid watches. I'm not saying it's right. I'm saying how it is.

I find it funny that people don't see a difference between the PS2 and Wii version of the game.

People, it's as much a difference as watching a movie of Romeo and Juliet, compared to acting in a school play of it. Either way, it's still fiction.. but in one case, you're actually acting out the part. That's where the big difference comes from.

Just pushing a button doesn't do a lot for stimulating, or even training the brain to understand how certain moves are done. Imagine.. playing a WWE game, on PS3 or X360. Sure, it's all nice, flashy, and has a lot of characters and moves.. but it doesn't matter HOW good you are at the game, you're not going to last 30 seconds in the ring in real life, without being in a lot of pain, unless you're already trained in stunts.

Actually acting out a mimicry of said action.. well, that's how babies and children learn. They watch, they mimic. Be it vocalization or actions. We learn by doing. And Wii allows one to do it, in as close a mimic to real life as possible, for all the important aspects.

That being said, since I'm 25.. if it does get an AO rating and I'm only able to buy it online, I'm gonna pull out my credit card and do so. I want the game, and I want to support the idea that Wii, and Nintendo in general, isn't just for kids and families. Nor is gaming in general just for kiddies.

if you're going to rate this game AO, rate all the versions AO, not just the Wii version...

Now that that's out of the way, this is bad news for the ESRB. If they do rate it AO, then the parents groups can basically do whatever they want when they don't like the rating. Bully 2? AO. Left Behind 2? E. The next Bible Game? M for mandatory purchase.

also, @ oldest gamer:

"The game will still sell well enough to kids, adults etc. Parents will still ignore their children and claim ignorance when said child kills. Besides, what parent allows their child to be ‘un cool’?"

The problem there is, no AO game will be carried on store shelves. Not in gaming boutique stores, not in Wal-mart, not in Blockbuster. It would mean the parents would have to actively seek it and purchase it, on their credit card, online, where they'll be hit with all the information required for them to make a decision. They won't be distracted by a bunch of other games, they won't be confused with anything else, it'll all be about that game, and that game only.

There's a gulf of difference between passively buying whatever the kid hands their parents, and their parent having to actually look at it every step of the way and have all the time in the world to read about it, without their kid harassing them.

I guess you can say we knew all this controversy was coming. There are certain things that you are going to be able to do in Manhunt 2 which some people may not find appropriate. Additionally I can see that the Wiimote does add a deeper level of game play which is not going to be suitable for any children. However, this game is not made for children and I think Rockstar isn’t trying to market this product to them. This game is for the more mature gamer (as are most of Rockstar games), and it is up to the parents to prevent there games from getting into the hands of their children. As for me, I will own and play this game on July 9th. I truly feel sorry for all the gamers that will be missing out on this fine piece of art. Regardless of how gruesome it may be, Rockstar is making it, and one way to look at this situation is that all this controversy may be intriguing the minds of some gamers who otherwise may not have known about it. This could be looked upon as free advertising, not the black Tuesday that was mentioned in the article. Of course this does mean that there will be a lack of sales for the product, but Manhunt 2 wasn’t designed as a game for everyone in the first place.

Can we please ban hunting? Killing a real live animal... stalking it... etc.

The people making this game are pathetic. Simply marketing a game on its shock factor...

Using a Wii control to physically act out the extreme violence?

These developers need help, seriously.

I say bring it on. This will only serve to increase knowledge about the game, specifically the Wii version if it's the only one getting an AO rating. I bet it will make people more interested in it, not less. I'm personally picking it up, because it looks like a fun game and I've heard really good things from previews and hands-on play tests.

All I see AO as is a way to legally ban games. These watchdog groups don't want games rated properly, they want them removed from existence. This is a bigger issue in my eyes than the rating of a stupid looking game. This is censorship at its finest. They know how to make games go away, and this is their step in creating their ideal world.

On the side, I am sick of R*/Take 2. They make their fame and fortune on controversy alone.

I can see JT at his desk now.

"Dance little puppets dance."

If Take Two really wanted to clean up...

They'd hand distrobution themselves, completely online transactions, thus bypassing the major retailers.

Of cource the game would be like $90 to cover shipping costs and other kinds of crap.

But they would've effectively gotten past the ESRB and the retailers that won't stock games that are either unrated or AO.

what would be very very funny is even with all this hype of the game, you end up not using the remote to 'slit' throughts and are instead forced to use the classic controller or something.

What would be even funnier is it never comes out, not because of Jacky or the OMG groups, but cause rockstar never actually produced the game in the first place... and instead are secretly working on a hidden game they dont want anyone to know about.

(Memo... when i get my own gaming company, pretend to produce overly graphic game. Start viral campain on april 1.)

Why are the rantings of some laughable watchdog group bad news for Rockstar? By that example every rant and email by Jack thompson should also be portrayed as horrible, seriously bad news for Take-two.

Anyway, if this was rated AO in the States we would all know about it. It would have been a too juicy piece of news to not be leaked.
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Andrew EisenSo, like a space where we can all hang out and chat while the site is down? I can dig it. No idea how to do that though. Is there a way to create a public chat in Google Hangout?08/31/2015 - 8:23pm
benohawk@Goth Thirded, I think the motion carries08/31/2015 - 8:17pm
PHX Corp@Goth_skunk Seconded08/31/2015 - 7:43pm

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