Let Sleeping Dogs Lie – Or Just Kill Them

And so the Manhunt 2 saga continues unabated. Whilst it feels almost as if Manhunt 2’s media coverage should have it’s own channel (or blog – maybe the nice folks at Weblogs, Inc could capitalize on this missed opportunity), today’s installment – from the opposition, no less – raises a valid point regarding the ESRB and the way in which they operate.

Since neither Rockstar nor the ESRB themselves have yet disclosed what despicable acts of depravity were cut (sorry, edited) from Manhunt 2 in order to grant a commercial release, California Senator Leland Yee has not only called for this information to be made public, but also the communications between Rockstar and the ESRB that resulted in the edits and subsequent release. He claims that parents cannot trust a regulatory body that doesn’t disclose how they arrive at a particular rating, despite the fact that this page offers quite a considerable amount of information on their process. This can mean only one thing – he’s just pissed that he can’t find out exactly what was cut so he can use it for his own dastardly political gain in future nonsensical arguments about video game violence. However, he does raise a good point – should we know what content were cut from the original game? Or should we just trust the ESRB to make that call? After all, that’s their job, right?

Perhaps what would be more prudent would be to identify the qualities that makes the ESRB’s ‘specially-trained game raters’ (whom are, presumably, gifted with superhuman powers granting them more resistance to porn and violence than ‘ordinary’ people – y’know, like gamers) suitable for their roles. The fact that their official information specifies that ‘at least three’ game raters are required to pass judgment on a title before being allocated a rating is perhaps more worrying; three people is hardly indicative of an accurate cross-section of opinion. To quote the official site; “They rate games on a full-time basis, although they may be assisted by part-time raters when necessary.” I can only imagine the strength of moral fiber necessary to resist the evils of video games on a full-time basis; Herculean feats of endurance matched only by their determination to protect the youth of America from the immoral filth manufactured by developers like Rockstar; wearied, exhausted Republicans, dripping with sweat having spent the whole day resisting the temptation to fuck, kill and profane everyone around them – truly they are heroes indeed. As for the ‘assistance’ from part-time raters – do they ask the interns on their way to the hotplate if something is ‘too evil’? Does this look like porno to you, Jimmy? No sir, it don’t.

Whilst I’m less concerned with exactly what was cut (due to my aforementioned distaste for all censorship on principle along with many other rational, thinking adults capable of making decisions all by themselves), I would most definitely welcome more news regarding the ESRB’s process of determining suitable content, and what qualifies their staff to make these decisions. And needless to say, the communications between Rockstar and the ESRB would almost-certainly be more entertaining than the content of the game itself, censored or not.

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