Manhunt to blame?


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From GamesIndustry.biz this morning comes news from the UK:

"British electronics retailer Dixons has removed Rockstar's Manhunt title from stores, after newspapers and TV news shows reported allegations that the title had influenced a teenager found guilty of the murder of a younger boy."

The article states that the boy was "obsessed" with the game. And while realizing that this is a sensitive subject for the games industry trying to protect our freedom of expression, I remain steadfast in my belief that these ultra-violent titles are, and will continue to be, getting in the hands of a young impressionable audience that probably shouldn't be exposed to such heinous violence.

On July 8, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released their fourth follow-up report to Congress on the marketing of violent movies, music, and games to children:

  • As part of an undercover survey of teens shopping for games, the FTC found that 69 percent of unaccompanied shoppers under 17 were able to buy an M-rated game at a retail outlet.
  • The FTC found that ads for M-rated games continue to appear in game enthusiast magazines popular with teens.

Last November I wrote an open letter to Rockstar North about this very topic. I knew that young people would be getting their hands on the game and it remains largely unknown what effects these gruesome games have on a younger audience. I urged Rockstar to use their powers for the good of mankind instead of creating another man hunt. What will it take?

News such as this will not go away as long as the games industry continues to develop violent games like Manhunt. The sad thing is there are those that will publish what ever sells—regardless of the effects it has on society—because the only thing that matters in this capitalist world is the bottom line. Freedom of expression is one thing, but at what price should we have to pay for that freedom? Can anyone really be certain that these violent games have no undesirable influence on our youth? I believe it is proven that it just isn't possible to keep these games out of their hands.

5 Comments

Manhunt is pretty disgusting - but I usually stick with the theory that I have always felt -- A lot of times when I am just angry (for a reason in real life), the way I can most easily get rid of that anger instead of violence is to play a violent game - simulated anger hurts nobody.

One could make the claim that manhunt might give someone more creative ways to kill someone -- but one could also claim that manhunt was able to relieve some anger for many people that opted for a non-violent expression of their anger.

eh. the world is a different place nowadays

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An important thing that you should know about manhunt

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It's a comic Tim, I'm not so sure about the "important" message you feel it offers. I certainly do not have a closed-minded view of violent video games in general as the characters in that comic obviously do. I simply do not enjoy violence, neither in reality nor in the games that I play.

An important thing that you should know about violent games is that they continue to get into the hands of people too young to be playing them. And what impact do these games have on a more impressionable mind? Hmm?

Are ultra-violent games really that desired, or is the controversy they breed the real attractor?

As a game developer, is an ultra-violent video game the kind of contribution you want to make to culture and society?

You can laugh at Penny Arcade's comic of the issue all you want, Tim, but the fact of the matter remains this is a very sensitive issue for a lot of very good reasons, and it cannot be solved by a comic.

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robert S. June 27, 2005 4:51 AM

i agree with jay about children and violent games as im only 12. i don't approve of such games (weird words from a kid..) but thats just me since that stuff makes me sick in the stomach. i can play games for enjoyment but not to get ideas, if anything salespeople should actually refuse to sell mature or Ao(adult only games) to children and maybe even teenagers. I think that the mature game age should be raised to 21 or whenever we develop a sense of reality. i did play some mature games like grand theft auto and such but only because it looked cool back then and i know it isnt real, but some people don't i guess. i already know curses and such but i think its fine because i never use them. I think i can name plenty of dumb things i've done through my life the only i can think of involving anything i saw on tv or the computer was sliding down the railing of the stairs and falling off and breaking my arm, i was in kindergarten back then now i've learned about gravity and an expression i'll never hear enough of- S**t happens.. im not sure who made it up but it's probably the greatest ever invented, i tend to censor it due to my age. Anyways, my statement to salespeople is: pay attention!

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robert im very impressed that a kid the same age as me would think that way about games,however i dont agree.from expirience i know that some kids parents dont like there kids playing m ratid games such as halo and the same parents that also let there kids matrix reloaded not to mention the violence but there is also a five minute sex scene. hmmm i think id rather let my kids play halo

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