The CCFC’s concerns focus on the motion-sensitive control system of the Nintendo Wii, which will require gamers to make chopping, stabbing and other clobbering-type movements as they progress through the game. According to a CCFC press release, “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.”
Most violent games receive an “M” (Mature) rating from the ESRB, which is intended to keep games out of the hands of anyone under the age of 17. According to the CCFC, however, a recent Federal Trade Commission report found that 42 percent of unaccompanied 13- to 16-year-olds were able to buy “M-“rated games, and that the industry continues to advertise “M”-rated games on television shows popular with younger teenagers. Dr. Susan Linn, co-founder of the CCFC, said, “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.”
“Adults Only” ratings are extremely rare in the industry: Over 13,000 games have been rated by the ESRB, and only 23 have received an “AO” rating. The “AO” rating has only been given once because of violent content. Most publishers attempt to avoid the rating whenever possible, because many mainstream retailers will not carry “AO”-rated games, virtually eliminating any chance of a title’s success at the retail level.
Manhunt 2 was recently banned by both the British Board of Film Classification and the Irish Film Censor’s Office, although it has yet to receive an ESRB rating. The game is slated to be released on July 10 in North America and July 13 in Europe.