U.S. Senators Press ESRB Over Manhunt 2 And Videogame Ratings

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A group of U.S. Senators has sent a letter to the Entertainment Software Rating Board suggesting the agency’s M (Mature) rating for Manhunt 2 reflects deeper flaws in the industry’s rating system.

Sent by Senators Joe Lieberman, Sam Brownback, Evan Bayh and presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, the letter said the game’s violent content should have earned an AO (Adults Only) rating. Manhunt 2 was initially given that rating, but a modified version which eliminated the worst of the offending content was resubmitted to the ESRB and was downgraded to the M rating, clearing it for sale in North America.

“We ask your consideration of whether it is time to review the robustness, reliability and repeatability of your ratings process, particularly for this genre of ‘ultraviolent’ videogames and the advances in game controllers,” the group wrote. “We have consistently urged parents to pay attention to the ESRB rating system. We must ensure that parents can rely on the consistency and accuracy of those ratings.”

A focal point of the Manhunt 2 controversy centered on the Nintendo Wii Remote controllers, which players would use to physically emulate the stabbing, hacking, slashing and other clobbering moves used in the game, rather than simply pressing buttons. Some critics claimed these in-game actions would create a damaging level of immersion for the young children playing the game.

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