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

August 24, 2007 -
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.


You know the "marketed to children" line is really irritating and stupid. They state it as though its such a fact that no evidence is needed to back it up. No, I'm sorry I need evidence to prove this. Otherwise its just fearmongering to gain control over people.

"Despite industry claims to the contrary, M-rated games continue to be marketed and sold to children under seventeen. "

That is NOT the industry's fault - it is the fault of the retail market and a fault of the parents for (a) buying games for their children without full comprehension of the ratings system and (b)not policing what their children are playing.

'If we get our way, the system works, if we don't it's broken'.

If only those of us who lived in reality had such simple decisions to make.

I thought the ESRB was the independent review board.
And I want FULL BLOWN PROOF of marketing to minors, with definitions.

Because there's no WAY they just edited out the stuff the ESRB said was over the top, and re-submitted it. *eyeroll*

Stupid conspiracy nuts.

Once again ill propse to the watchdog groups out there.

Its a modest propsoal of course, but why dont we just remove children from the world?

That way the will never be corrupted by the evils that appear around every corner.

We could just labotomize them, or stick them into cages were they sit in isolation everyday, getting fed specificly designed meals and being taught the school stuff while in the cages.

Then we can release them into the world when they are no longer able to be corrupted by evil.

@ Erik

The "marketed to Children" crap annoyes me as well. At least it is a good way to tell that the person saying it is (usually) actually interested in an intelligent discussion. With this such group, given their track record, you know it is not the case.

Perhaps I am not watching enough Saturday Morning Cartoons, but I doubt commercials for this stuff appears before episodes of Pokemon or Dora.

Conservative morons. They hate freedom and expression. I wish I could censor their favorite form of fantasy: the Bible. Then they might shut the hell up, crawl back into their dens of superstition, and leave people alone.

Genocidal, mind-washing, dogma is being forced upon children under the age of 17. Where is the outrage?

"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."

Translation: We want the game to be reviewed by people we pick that may not understand certain things about video games, and therefore would think of only what the watchdog groups are feeding them...that MH2 is "the most violent game to date produced for the interactive Nintendo Wii platform – will be marketed and sold to children."

Anyone ever been sitting...flipping through the channels...and you stop on Nickelodeon...and see an ad for Manhunt 2? Christ, THERE IS A REASON IT SAYS MATURE ON THE GOD DAMN BOX! DO YOU PEOPLE NOT SEE THAT IT SAYS MATURE BECAUSE IT IS "INTENDED FOR AGES 17+"! CHRIST!

@ Pandralisk,

biased much? about this: If you don't want your children playing games like Manhunt or GTA or any M-rated games or a good parent and get involved with your kids' lives. Stop trying to blame everything on a bad rating system, or games that exhibit graphic about you turn towards bad parenting and stoicism to declining social and familial structure and values? Oh wait...sorry...of course it MUST be someone else's fault. Damn that rock and roll...I mean...rap music...I mean...metal...I mean...............

What part of the Bible is fantasy?

@ night Gia
Don't forget about books, jazz, dances, comics, etc....

They want an investigation? I'll 'investigate' it, as long as they provide the game, a Wii, and compensation for my time. And Metroid Prime 3. Might as well tackle all of the 'violent' games at once.
I'll dutifully take time out of my busy schedule to protect the children!

(Warning: Above Post Was A Joke. Don't Take It Seriously. If You Did, Drink More Coffee.)

I think this is just silly. if the ESRB thinks its OK to give the censored Manhunt 2 an M rating, than I would think these watchdogs would accept the loss. but no, now its saying the Wii is going to increase the violence with "Movement violence! OHH!!!" Here's hoping these people will go nuts over No More Hero's, the overly violent game by the Killer7 crew thatb allows you to not only do the sword swings yourself, but you 'Power up' by doing a masturbation movement

The ESRB did not do a "reversal". There was apparently a change to the game and, therefore, the ESRB "re-evaluated" the newly existing content. Therefore, it was NOT a reversal but but a re-evaluation due to content change.

"Independant" as in "Only the CCFC can make an 'unbiased' judgment of the content of said game. Our opinions are superior and therefore we have the right to dictate what is or is not appropriate for other individuals and their children."

Games are initially rated by the ESRB. Any private organization is welcome to review and rate a game based on their own personal opinions. But when it comes to initial rating and information, I'll seek the ESRB rating. Why? Because, at least originally, its ratings were based solely on content, not on judgment of the content. If I wanted more detail, there are plenty of other resources for me to check that I feel, for my personal use, are less judgmental about content and more informative about the games I'm researching than what the CCFC offers.

Everyone has their preferences. After 25+ years of being in-the-know, I've found that which suits me best. I do not now, nor ever have I required, any indivdiual, organization, or government entity dictating to me what is or is not appropriate for myself or my child.

NW2K Software

Marketed towards children... reviewed by a non-industry board... and I thought they might have something new to say.

You know, you all should take this seriously. I'm a real attorney. Look at my real degree - I printed it off the Intertron, but nowadays you kids are clogging up my own personal Intranets with your violent and pornographic Nazi games! Your games are clogging up my Internet tubes!

I have a lawsuit against this game coming up. Never before have children ever held something in their hand and mimicked a violent action. Look at Star Wars. Kids just watch Dark Helmet and the rest swing those laser swords around, and that's fine, because they're just watching. Not mimicking. But the second they start marketing products to children that enable them to mimic lazerswords, especially if they light up and make noises, you can be damn well sure I'll be taking them to court! Hooah!

Do you know what else is dangerous? Dirt. Kids could make towers out of dirt and then mimic the 9/11 attacks by kicking them over. Dirt needs to be banned. Look out for my next lawsuit against dirt.

By the way, since I've got all these lawsuits running against all these people, I have no time to take care of my kids, so I'll just buy them a bunch of video games and let them play them unsupervised. I heard this Gran Feft Otto is a good game.

I will personally make sure that no one who has ever played a video game, ever, will be on this independent board. Nope, the independent board will consist of menopausal old hags who hate everything technological since they can't understand it and spend most of their time whining about celebrities and taking everything George Bush says as gospel.

Just like me. A real attorney. This is las, signing off. Attorney. Me.

this smells like jack thompson has some involvement


The Bible is pretty much a collection of mythology no different from the stories of the ancient Roman, Greek, Hindu, Buddhist, or Norse religions. Zeus does not throw lightning bolts. Men and Women have the same number of ribs.

But the topic isn't about religion, so lets get off that.

The watchdog group are godd#m f#cken idiots that need to back off my right in America to play this game. If those damn watchdog group idiots cared so much about people, why dont they just spend their time saving lives in way worse situations than a video game.

I was so excited about this news and now those fuck#n bit#h's are still messing with the game after it got rated.

Yes, because cursing is going to get you really far with people like this.

Anyway.. I guess some people just aren't happy with anything. Personally I'd also like proof of these ridiculous claims of it being "marketed to children." If they claim that it's because children have access to the magazines and TV shows it's advertised in, despite said media being NOT for children, then they're simply delusional.

So they want access to the innards of a private contract? One designed to protect the content of a game from being leaked before the street date?

If I have been correctly informed, the only party who can release the videos, if at all, is the developer/publisher. The ESRB cannot give out the game play footage OR the version of the game given to be played.

Of course these idiots don't seem to realize you can redo some gameplay and edit art assets then resubmit. I don't envy the person who tries to explain this concept to them.

You know, I'm really getting sick of this crap. Parents want sex-ed, they don't want it, they want movie theaters regulated with armed guards, metal detectors in schools, federal investigations for a freaking game... Hmm, what do all these problems have in common? Parents! It's bad enough that we try to set a set of morals in stone when decades ago guys like Lenny Bruce were jailed for using off-color humor which today we widely accept from comedians like George Carlin and Dave Chappelle. Heck, give it 20 years and people will be complaining that there isn't enough violence in games to prepare children for the grim reality of the real world. A real-life plague of zombies might help too.

I hope you REALLY know what you are talking about...

Anyway, I'm still waiting for proof that this game is being marketed to children.


don't, it is not worth, i've tried. You'll get the same old rhetoric about how it's marketed to children because it's a "game". I had a discussion once with my old theology teacher about violent video games(who, ironically enough, looks very similar to Dr. Linn). She talked about evil GTA is because you "have" to kill prosititutes to get enough points to get to the next level. I could not convince her that wasn't true (I should have explained to her what a sandbox game is). She handed me this study (I think it was conducted by Grossman but I'm not sure) which I could tell was completely one sided at first glance.


sush up, or at least blame the Donkeys as well. Both 'sides' are looking to score brownie points by "saving the children".

In all truth both the donkeys and elephants are nothing more then bullshiters who say that they are diffrent then the otherside, then turn around and repeat them. There is one true thing to call them. Polititions, all most all exist to ban/extort the general public to make a quick buck.

Cartoon characters labeled food villains
Rebecca Smithers, consumer affairs correspondent
The Guardian
Tuesday August 21, 2007

Food products promoted by popular cartoons and film characters are undermining parents' efforts to make their children eat healthily, according to a survey published by a consumer group today.
It warns that biscuits and other snacks are being advertised as ideal for school lunchboxes when in fact they are high in fat and sugar. The unhealthiest foods include many popular cereals as well as biscuits. Products on the blacklist all attract red "traffic light" labels under the new system introduced by the government's Food Standards Agency.

The series and characters identified by Which? for its Cartoon Heroes and Villains report include The Simpsons, Bratz, Shrek and Spider-Man, as well as new characters created by food companies themselves. Three-quarters of parents interviewed by Which? said they thought it was irresponsible for companies to feature cartoon characters on unhealthy foods and wanted the practice to be stopped. They also objected to marketing practices linking purchases to competitions and promotions on websites.

The report cites Bratz characters appearing on packs of Bon Bon Buddies' Fabulous Biscuits, said to be high in fat, saturates and sugar, and characters from the film Flushed Away on packs of Burton's Jammie Dodgers and on Kellogg's Coco Pops Straws, which are both identified as high in saturates and sugar.

A Happy Feet penguin was used on the box of high-sugar Weetabix chocolate flavour Weetos, and Shrek appeared on packs of Kellogg's Frosties. The Simpsons appeared on Butterkist honey nut popcorn, which is high in sugar, while Spider-Man was used on packs of Nesquik chocolate flavour cereal.

Winnie the Pooh and Tigger appeared on a selection of products including Marks & Spencer's soft fruit gums and Nestlé's little chocolate pots, high in both saturates and sugar. The Pink Panther was used on Northumbrian Fine Foods' Jammy Wheels, which are high in saturates and sugar.

Sue Davies, chief policy adviser of Which?, said: "There are precious few examples of cartoons being used to promote healthy products. Our research shows that the majority are being used to encourage children to eat fatty, sugary and salty foods. We are calling on companies to follow the example of Warner Bros and Disney, and no longer use cartoons to promote unhealthy foods.

"With so many parents fed up with the amount of marketing aimed at their children, it also makes commercial sense for cartoon brands to distance themselves from unhealthy food products. Regulation should be put in place to protect children from all forms of irresponsible marketing of unhealthy foods, whether it's TV advertising, packaging, free gifts or websites."

For its research Which? bought examples of products featuring popular cartoon characters from supermarkets and looked at other food promotions using cartoon characters between March and June. It then questioned 557 UK adults with children under 16 in face-to-face interviews at the beginning of July.

Julian Hunt, director of communications at the Food and Drink Federation, said: "The report is bizarre given that the UK already has some of the strictest regulations in the world when it comes to advertising and promoting food and drink products to children, and industry is fully complying with these rules.

"There are regulations in place that ban the use of licensed characters on TV ads for high fat, sugar and salt products aimed at primary school children or younger."

Kellogg's said in a statement: "No further Kellogg's promotions will use licensed characters; the focus is now on entertainment, health or activity."

The blacklist

Bratz (MGA Entertainment). Bon Bon Buddies Bratz Fabulous Biscuits, promoted as being ideal for lunchboxes, contained 24.6g of fat, 15.4g of saturates and 37.6g of sugar per 100g

The Simpsons (20th Century Fox) were used to promote Honey Nut Popcorn from Butterkist with 41.3g sugar per 100g.

Shrek the Third (Dreamworks) featured on Kellogg's Frosties, with the incentive of a free child's cinema ticket for which it was necessary to collect three different codes from special packs (37g sugar per 100g).

Coco the Monkey (Kellogg's) was shown in ads with other cartoon animals promoting Coco Pops Straws (6g saturates per 100g, 34g sugar per 100g) and other Coco Pops products.

Spider-Man (Marvel) comics came free with Nesquik Chocolate Flavour Cereal (36.1g sugar per 100g).

Pink Panther (MGM). Northumbrian Fine Foods Pink Panther Jammy Wheels contained 10.4g saturates per 100g and 30.1g sugar per 100g.

Source: Which?
They hate everything

I was just mad when I was saying what I thought about those violators of our rights. The game has been rated already so they need to leave the game alone so we can play the game by which we have the right to do.

@ Jack Thompson
As for you there is nothing you can do about the game coming out because it got rated already and a release date. To add on with that you would be dealing with our amendment right. Case closed on the Manhunt 2 issue.

@ jer, The part about the great flood is fake. Otherwise we would have no freshwater fish. They would be dead. However that is not the point of this, so moving on.

There has been more than two times the ESRB used the AO rating.

These aren't conservative morons. That's the Parents' Television Council. THese are liberaly morons whose main issue is they don't want kids eating candy.

Odd. "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."

Why do you need to know what was *removed* from the game in order to judge it now? Does it matter in the slightest what content is *not* in the retail game? Dr. Linn should be ashamed of the foul language and graphic sexual references that she didn't include in her statement.

The Campaign For a Commercial-Free Childhood is extremely concerned that the ESRB has downgraded its rating for Manhunt 2 from 'adults only' to 'not suitable for children'.

Yeah. OK.

At the end of the day, it is not the industry's fault if minors play games intended for adults. It is a concern for the industry and they have the responsibility to stop these games from getting into the hands of minors, and they do a great job of it.

First time round, ESRB rates Manhunt AO. Due to this, it is banned on all the major consoles (who refuse to allow AO games on their consoles; so much for trying to disseminate the myth that only children play video games) and even if it was allowed, only over 18s could buy it.

Second time round, ESRB rates Manhunt M. Consoles should allow it on their systems and only over 17s can purchase it.

There, the industry has done its bit.

If the retailers do their bit, and apart from one store in Tallahassee or whatever these censors insist is still selling violent games to minors, then the fault is entirely on the parents who buy the violent games for minors.

You don't buy your kids violent games? Fine. Don't encroach on other people's rights to decide what media their kids can view. And certainly do not go after the industry that has done all it can, you fat, useless, old hags.

@ all involved in the Bible/Myth commentary

It is pretty much proven scientific fact that Jesus existed, and I'm fairly certain that a lot of his life's detailing is either correct or an exaggeration to some unknown extent written by the uneducated people of the times (ever seen the Family Guy Movie?). My religious faith tells me that the parts intended as truth are, in fact, true. Parables are not intended as truth, for example. Some of the other stories are not fact as well, such as the creation stories. Rather, they were contrived to portray a set of ideas. For example, that "resting on the seventh day" thing just gives a good reason to "keep holy the sabbath". After all, how can a single religion believe that the world was created in two different, non-interchangeable ways? Anyway, my point is that only SOME of the Bible is fiction. Unfortunately, many interpret the fictional elements as fact. I'm also guessing that Goliath was not a giant, just a tall muscular man.

All of this debate on AO video gaming and the Bible makes me want to make the Bible: the Game.

The Marketed to Children line is used to describe ads for M rated games that appear of television shows before 9PM and after 4AM. They also use it to describe ads that appear on game related sites. They have no basis for this.

They really need to take a step in the real world and if they think these games are marketed to children, I want to see these examples. And no WWE does not count.

"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."

UHHHH........ the ESRB?

@Jack Thompson and the CFCC.
Haha neener neener suck it.

@ The sane world
Good job guys.

Very nicely done.

Stop using the 'somebody think of the children!' bullshit line. We know its just for you. YOU are irresponsible parents who can't control what YOUR children bring into the house. When I was little, I purchased Grand Theft Auto with my father. Before I played it, he played it, and then he said 'based on the fact that you are not a complete retard and know its just a game, I feel you are more than intelligent and mature enough to play this game'. Maybe YOU, as the PARENTS should watch what your children are playing, rather than expect the government to do it for you.

It turns out it doesn't take a village; just a parent.

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

Here, let me spare the tax payers their hard earned dollars. R* trimmed off some of the over the top content and resubmitted it to the ESRB. The amount removed was sufficient to bring it under whatever ceiling the M rating has. Cue complaints from the nanny stateists that want all media to conform to the standards suitable for your average 8 year old.


The article didn't say that it is the second time the AO rating has been used, but that it is the second time it has been used due to violence. Looking at the list in the link you provided I see that the other one would be "The Punisher" which went through the same process as Manhunt 2 has and was re-rated to M. All of the other games on the list were rated AO for sexual content save for one casino game which earned it for gambling.

I am as upset as everyone else about all this ho-ha! over games getting bad publicity. As i keep saying, over, and over, and over again is that history repeats it self ALOT.

This has all happened before. Death Metal, the Jazz dancing our grandparents did.(I forgot the name), but it was "too vulgar" or some shiat.

The only thing we can do, is back up our claims with facts that we have readily available and just weather the storm. I do hope that it wont get out of control. If it does, well, i just pray we can come to a good conclusion.

I'm mainly worried about all the people that actually believe the BS they spew out of their mouth 24/7. You all know people that fit that profile.

They are the kind of people that make Darwin a very, very, very unhappy panda.

"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."

Hey, I'm independent from the video game industry. Send me a copy right now and I'll review the game.

"There has been more than two times the ESRB used the AO rating."

I believe CCFC are confusing the ESRB with the UK's BBFC, which outright banned Manhunt 2, and if memory serves is only the second ever time they've done so with a game. Fills you with confidence in their fact-checking ability if that is indeed the case.

"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."

Heres a fun fact....... I ride this subway every day two and from work (it sucks) and on this subway that doesnt want to market unappropriate ads to kids, appears many ads for alcohol. Thats right. Alcohol is ok for kids but video games are the devil. Oh and Im not talking about one small add for Budwieser or something Im talking dozens of huge 10sq ft ads for alcohol. And to tell the truth 99.99% of the people that I see riding that train are over the age of 18.

They're talking about an AO rating assigned because of violence. There was indeed more than two AO ratings assigned to games but all of these excepted for two exceptions (one being Manhunt 2) were because the games contained adult only nudity, sexual content, etc.

Watchdog organizations are for all the parents out there who are too lazy to think for themselves, and end up hurting others due to their own ignorance.

Actually, I personally sympathize with most of the CCFC's aims. It's great that they want to stop commercial exploitation of children. However, sometimes they go too far- like right now.

No federal organization in this country has any business in this situation so long as

A) I pay my damn federal taxes in full

and B) this country still claims to follow its constitution.

For any presumably educated adult to call for FEDERAL INVOLVEMENT in something so irrelevant like this is both apalling and stupid.

The problem here is word got out that Manhunt got an AO rating. Now that R* cut some stuff its gets a M rating. See a lot of games probably getting rated higher than the developer was hoping for, granted most of those games are rated T and was initially given a M rated so the developers go back and get rid of the M stuff. I bet R* was shooting for a M rating and well the random people who rated thought differently. The problem is the word got out about the AO rating and here we are today. I knew this would happen and I know someone would have a problem with it. Lets just hope this doesn't stop anything cause I would be really mad and I'm not even planning on buying the game.

All I can think about this world is its all screwed up and the sad part is its the so call "Can Do/Baby Boomer Generation" screwing it up. Funny all the hard times made them the so called greatest generation and now they want to screw up the world for the rest of us but making it one huge nanny state. I feel sorry for the kids today who can't even ride their bike 100 feet from their house.

First of all, M-rated games are not marketed to children. If they are sold to children, how is that the industry's fault? The retailers are the ones selling the games to the children. The parents are the ones that are buying these violent games for their kids without even looking at the ESRB rating sticker. Second of all, just because the games are marketed on popular media (namely print and television) does NOT mean that they are marketed to children. I just saw an ad for the M-rated game BioShock, and the commercial clearly stated "Rated M for Mature".

Additionally, a parent should be aware of what their child is doing. If you catch your child watching an R-rated movie, do you blame the film industry? If your child just downloaded a song with obscene lyrics, do you blame the music industry? If your child is caught reading a Playboy, do you go after Hugh Hefner? If you don't want your children to be playing M-rated games, then you should take it upon yourself to be a parent keep games like Manhunt 2 out of the hands of your kids.

Why should Rockstar need to have the game content reviewed by anyone besides the ESRB? Why shouldn't Rockstar be allowed to make whatever game that they want to make? This is a free country, and Rockstar should be allowed to put out whatever product that they want to create. It is already bad enough that Rockstar was forced to cut content from their game in order to avoid the AO rating. A Federal Trade Commission investigation would just be a waste of everyone's time, not to mention government resources. It is completely unnecessary. Is it that hard to figure out why Rockstar wanted an M rating? An AO rating would result in major retailers refusing to carry the game, which would completely cripple the sales. Therefore, Rockstar has no choice but to cut content in order to get the M rating. That way they can at least sell enough games to cover the costs of the development. Does anyone really need the FTC to tell them that? Dr. Linn and the CCFC should really reconsider their priorities. There are bigger dangers to kids out there than Manhunt 2.

Would it be out of line if I "called for" Dr. Susan Linn to grasp my manhood firnly in one hand, place it between two slices of thick, peasanty bread, slather it with the condom of her choice, and proceed to consume the meat that is me?

If it is, I won't suggest it. Just want to check first.
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