The Irish film censor has just banned the game Manhunt 2 from Irish stores (and it has been banned in the UK too). They said it was banned due to “the level of gross, unrelenting and gratuitous violence…”. I have to trust them on that, because I haven’t seen it and don’t intend to either.
Rockstar, the developers of Manhunt 2, say: “Manhunt 2 is an entertainment experience for fans of psychological thrillers and horror. The subject matter of this game is in line with other mainstream entertainment choices for adult consumers.” (My italics).
First, it isn’t “mainstream”. It is a fringe offering for a fringe audience. I find it creepy and offensive when some corporation tries to tell me that something is “mainstream”, as if that makes it normal and sensible. Shrek 3 is mainstream. NBC Nightly News is mainstream. Since when was an interactive video game featuring the beating up, killing, maiming, or mutilation of people “mainstream entertainment”? Or have we as a society completely lost all sense of right and wrong?
Secondly, it shouldn’t be classed as “entertainment”. I can see that some very psychotic individuals may find this entertaining, so in one sense it is entertainment. But only entertaining in the same way that Serbian warlords found killing Bosnians in Srebenica to be amusing. Being entertaining doesn’t justify it.
No doubt, banning the game will increase it’s notoriety for a short time. In fact, it has probably raised the awareness of the game to levels way out of proportion to anything it deserves.