Tiga CEO Fred Hasson and psychologist Guy Cumberbatch have spoken out in defense of Rockstar today at the company’s appeal of the British Board of Film Classification’s ban on Manhunt 2 in the U.K.
Hasson said he stood behind his earlier claims that the BBFC made its decision to ban the game based on articles in the Daily Mail and other publications, saying, “I can only come to the conclusion that is the case. Having seen the content of the game, I can’t see any other reason why they’ve done that.”
Hasson claimed he was “surprised at how tame it is compared to some very graphical scenes I’ve seen in other games which have received certification,” adding, “I expected it to be a lot worse… I can’t believe this has been singled out as something that is worth banning.”
Cumberbatch, who has done “extensive” research into media violence, said he conducted a survey in which 86 respondents, all of whom had seen at least two 18-rated movies and played two 18-rated videogames, played Manhunt 2 for 15 minutes and also viewed a series of video clips taken from different levels of the game. They were then asked how they felt the game compared to other games and films; 68 percent said other games on the market were equally violent, while 80 percent said equally violent films were available. Further, according to Cumberbatch, several respondents indicated that gamers would be “disappointed” with the level of violence in the game.
“Certainly no one’s going to suggest Manhunt 2 is one of the least violent games around,” Cumberbatch said. “In my own limited experience of playing Manhunt 2, it’s fairly sanitized as a work compared with what you might expect in a film.”
The BBFC first banned Rockstar’s Manhunt 2 in June, citing the game’s “unrelenting bleakness and callousness of tone” in its decision. While the ESRB decided to change the game’s original rating of AO (Adults Only) to M (Mature) following modifications to the game that removed or camouflaged the worst of the violence, the BBFC elected to maintain the ban, saying, “We do not consider that these changes go far enough to address our concerns about the original version.”
Rockstar’s appeal of the decision is continuing.