ESRB’s Vance Fires Back at Yee, CCFC

Under fire after reversing Manhunt 2’s Adults Only rating, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) said yesterday that it will not reveal the inner workings of how the upcoming game came to be M-rated.

As reported by GamePolitics the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood was first to attack the Manhunt 2 re-rate. Co-founder Dr. Susan Linn spoke with ESRB president Patricia Vance (left) about the Manhunt 2 issue shortly after the rating change was announced last Friday. Later that day, via press release, CFCC said:

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.

Yee followed suit on Monday:

Parents can’t trust a rating system that doesn’t even disclose how they come to a particular rating… Clearly the ESRB has a conflict of interest in rating these games. It is time to bring transparency to this rating system and for the industry to be held accountable.  

Both Linn and Yee have called upon the Federal Trade Commission to investigate how the rating change came about. The ESRB’s Vance responded yesterday via statement:

Upon reviewing the modified version of Manhunt 2, the ESRB assigned a rating of M… with content descriptors for Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content and Use of Drugs. 

This is a very clear and firm warning to parents that the game is in no way intended for children…

Publishers submit game content to the ESRB on a confidential basis.  It is simply not our place to reveal specific details about the content we have reviewed, particularly when it involves a product yet to be released.  What can be said is that the changes… were sufficient to warrant the assignment of an M… rating by our raters… 
Rather than publicly second-guessing what is unmistakably a strong warning to parents about the suitability of a particular game for children, which presumably neither Senator Yee nor CCFC have personally reviewed, we feel a more productive tack would be to join us in encouraging parents to take the ratings seriously when buying games for their children. 

It is a parent’s rightful place to make choices for their own children.  The ESRB and console manufacturers provide families with the tools and information to help them do so.

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