I reported a couple of days ago on the BBFC and Irish Film Censor Office’s decisions to effectively ban Manhunt 2 in the United Kingdom and Ireland by refusing to rate the game, citing “casual sadism” and “callous violence”, and the ESRB’s decision to rate the game “Adults Only”. Since then, Sony and Nintendo have both reaffirmed their policies (which I was unaware of at the time of the last article) of refusing to license “AO”-rated games, or to even let them play on their systems. Universally, these boards and companies are treating this game as an imminent threat to society, and that is not an exaggeration on my part.
This should put a burr beneath the scrotum of any adult who feels that we have a certain right to decide what forms of entertainment are suitable for our own consumption. As an American, I applaud the constitutionally-enforced inability of the ESRB to ban this game, but am saddened and disturbed by Nintendo’s and Sony’s decisions to disallow games designed for responsible, mentally-capable adults. According to figures from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), sixty-nine percent of American heads of households play computer and video games, and the average gamer age is 33. Of all gamers, only 31% are under age 18, with 44% falling between 18-49 years of age, and 25% aged 50 years and over. Quick addition tells us 79% of all gamers are adults, yet these companies, boards, and committees find this adult content intolerable, and in some cases illegal. This is disheartening to me in a way I can’t begin to express to you.
But I digress. Before I lose you on this one, I wanted to share with you GAMERS FOR GAMING, a cause championed by Jim Sterling and David Houghton, two of my new favoritest tea-sipping bad-asses over at Destructoid.com. They’ve attached themselves to this story like a couple of rabid wolves may attach themselves to… another rabid wolf… attached to… freedom of expression? I dunno, metaphors aside, these guys are working on getting our thoughts and feelings across to everyone who is working to stifle our freedom to choose, the freedom of media, and the freedom of expression in art. Fight with us. Follow along. This affects us as gamers, as consumers, and as free people. It’s not a little issue. It’s not about one game, but about everything that ratings boards and law makers can take from you in the future once we start down this slippery slope. There are so many reasons to get in on this, I’ll not try to innumerate them. Get involved.
A very special thank you to the people with the voice that have taken up this torch. It’s good to see gamers getting involved in something worthwhile.