Watchdog Group Calls for Investigation in Wake of Manhunt 2 Re-rate

While Rockstar fans are high-fiving over news that Manhunt 2 will now see the light of day as an M-rated horror game, the Campaign For a Commercial-Free Childhood is not impressed. 

The group has called for a federal government investigation into how Manhunt 2 came to be an M-rated game.

GamePolitics readers may recall the CCFC, which first impacted the video game scene last Fall. The group led a protest which resulted in the banning of M-rated game ads from public transit vehicles in Massachusetts.

On June 19th of this year the CCFC issued a demand that Manhunt 2 be rated AO. One of the group’s primary concerns was the gesture control system of Nintendo’s Wii, which the CCFC worried would make Manhunt 2’s violence worse.

The group had incredibly bad timing however. Just hours before its campaign launched came word that Manhunt 2 had been banned in the U.K. And later the same day, the ESRB dropped its own bombshell, revealing that it had already rated Manhunt 2 for Adults Only.

Following today’s announcement that Manhunt 2 will launch on Halloween with an M rating, the CCFC has gotten back into the fray. The group issued a press release which reads, in part:

On a phone call with CCFC’s Dr. Susan Linn, ESRB President Patricia Vance refused to comment on what changes Rockstar made or whether any of the content described [in an IGN preview] was still in the game.

The press release includes a statement from Dr. Linn:

The [CCFC] is extremely concerned that the ESRB has downgraded its rating for Manhunt 2… Despite industry claims to the contrary, M-rated games continue to be marketed and sold to children under seventeen.  The ESRB’s reversal of its earlier decision dramatically increases the likelihood that Manhunt 2 – the most violent game to date produced for the interactive Nintendo Wii platform – will be marketed and sold to children.

Just three months ago, the ESRB felt that Manhunt 2 was so violent that it took the extraordinary step of giving a game an AO rating for violent content for only the second time in its history.  We urge the ESRB to make public their rationale for changing Manhunt 2’s rating, including detailing any content that was removed from the game.

We call upon Rockstar Games to allow the content of Manhunt 2 to be reviewed by an independent review board with no ties to the video game industry.

We ask the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the process by which Manhunt 2’s rating was downgraded from AO to M.

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