BBFC's Value In Question After Year-Long Manhunt 2 Snafu

March 22, 2008 -
While the U.K. ban on Manhunt 2 ultimately failed, it certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying on the part of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). 

The content rating organization fought tooth and nail for the better part of a year to keep Rockstar’s game from being sold. Some say the campaign may have tarnished the organization’s credibility.

Said Darren Waters, editor of BBC News’ technology index:
The grudging nature of the BBFC’s statement, that it now has “no alternative” but to grant the title a certificate, coupled with the fact the body went to the High Court, twice rejected the game itself and tried to overturn the original judgment of the VAC leaves the organisation with its credibility bruised.

TechDigest’s Jonathan Weinberg weighs in with his thoughts:
The argument here is not whether Manhunt 2 is bloody, brutal, sick or whatever superlative people want to choose. What it shows is that the current certification system the Government can’t wait to get involved in is not worth the paper it is written on.

With the BBFC’s value under scrutiny and alleged consumer confusion over UK games that sport two rating certificates, one from the BBFC and one from the European rating body PEGI, could the British rating board’s future be in jeopardy?  Waters suspects that could be the case as early as next week:
Dr Tanya Byron is expected to deliver her report into video games, violence and children [on March 27th] and I understand she favours handing the job to PEGI.  The BBFC’s dogged fight to ban Manhunt 2, even though industry figures lined up to defend the title, might come back to haunt it.

Via: MCVUK.com

-Reporting from San Diego, GP Correspondent Andrew Eisen

Comments

Yep. Not lookin' good for the BBFC. That's what happens when you act like a dick.

@ deftangel - don't confuse the BBFC not having to report to a governmental body with not being funded by the government and therefore the taxpayer.

Theoretically if the game developer had to pay the BBFC fees (as they do with other rating bodies) a rating to sell the game would not be compulsary. In the States if a developer does not want to pay to get the rating they can still release the game on the PC; not so in the UK. Certificates are compulsary for all games regardless of platform.

Besides, the organisation isn't paid in fairy dust, the money for the raters and the fees and the appeals and the courts and research in to effects of gaming on tadpoles comes from *somewhere*; are you honestly naive enough to think all that extra is coming from game developers' pockets? If it was it would be so expensive to sell games in the UK that the entire market would dry up, no matter how much you may like playing CoD4.

This is a really good week to be a gamer, even if I personally hate the game.
Sounds like a big mess up.

Personally I don't like Manhunt at all but it's no worse than Hostel or Saw. But censorship is bad in any case, unless it's ban a baby butts.

"The argument here is not whether Manhunt 2 is bloody, brutal, sick or whatever superlative people want to choose. What it shows is that the current certification system the Government can’t wait to get involved in is not worth the paper it is written on."

I like that right there.

the best solution would be for the BBFC to stay out of games and just go by PEGI, which is better supported, funded, and knows what the hell they're doing.

I like that smell in the *looks at corner of the screen* evening, smells like good fun.

why do they still care about manhunt 2 anyway, Condemed 2 is worse

@ Jake

"He cannot kill what he cannot see, and power has blinded him long ago."

@Jake

Because Condemned 2 actually has tolerable graphics ^.^

It's good to see criticism of the anti-gamers. Makes me smile.

The problem is that the BBFC was releasing reports saying that the interactive nature of Video Games may actually reduce their impact one minute, and then banning a game because of 'risk of harm' a few months later.

That 'risk of harm' comment was the crux of the matter, had they used the 'unacceptable to current social values' they may even have got a better run, because it's practically impossible to find anything in the UK that one denomination or another won't find offensive in some way, but by using that somewhat poorly thought out statement, not only did they go against their own research, but they also opened the window on the fact that Manhunt 1 was wrongly blamed on the murder of a teenager. It all looked suspicious, as Rockstars' lawyer pointed out, as to whether it was suspicious, I couldn't really say, but such a major change in stance for the sake of one game sounded like governmental pressure, if not directly, then at least by people like Vaz getting constituents to write in and complain (probably by telling them there was rape etc in it).

If they did bow to pressure like that, and ended up with egg on their faces, then as much as I hate to say it, they deserved it.

Y'know, the BBFC probably could have saved face with this issue... Had they just accepted the first appeal and just accepted it, it might have helped them some. It's like, "well, we got a job to do and we thought the public was concerned, but we guess it's not... oh well, whatever"... as opposed to bringing it too court TWICE, the 2nd time trying to overrule the first appeal, and then feeling regretful in their lose. This gives them that "grudging nature" mentioned in the article... it makes a difference, in that the later makes it sound like they have no choice, were forced into this decision and thus have limited power, while the former allows them to give off the impression, "we just did are job, this is how these things works" and save some face

I think the BBFC's stance against Manhunt 2 is just a precursor to the treatment the government have lined up for the games industry in the coming months. Youth crime is seriously out of control in the UK and the very unpopular government will be looking for some sort of easy target to tag the blame on to. The industry needs to fight tooth and nail to defend itself because it's about time someone told this government where to stick it.

Remember what ever she says in the report will be just a recommendation. The government wont have to follow suit.

So i bet if she favours handing the job to PEGI they wont, yet if she favours handing the job to BBFC only then they will.

Clearly the BBFC had an 18 rating to fit the game, but the tried to ban it outright anyway.

NOW THAT IS CENSORSHIP...in my own personal opinion.

In Australia with the OFLC however there is no R18+ rating, so they had to ban games downunder that exceeded the MA15+ rating.

BBFC did the wrong thing by trying to be moral and also they might have been pressured by the Brittish Government by knowing no matter what they did, they would certainly get in trouble either way, OFLC can't do anything but to ban things over the legal classification because the government has more say in what they can and can't do.

I hate to think how much taxpayer's money has been squandered to satisfy the BBFC's witchhunt. The BBFC is supposed to be fair and impartial, but the fact they consistently pursued a ban after a court high ruling rejected its recommendation show that certain individuals are not acting impartially, and clearly have an axe to grind.

I wouldn't be surprised if the seemingly non-stop publicity ManHunt has got since this saga began has actually served to increase sales by sensationalising the whole thing instead of writing it off as a one of the few examples of extremely bad taste in games.

I know exactly why Manhunt 2 was singled out instead of far more violent games like the Condemnd series. It's Rockstar. The company's very existence creates controversy across the globe. I can't explain it but as I've said before, Rockstar is responsible for about 90% of the controversy in the gaming industry. They are constantly stalked by the anti-gaming crowd ready to pounce on anything the company even thinks about releasing. To be honest, I think Manhunt's controversy is undeserved. We all know that it generates higher sales and I think the excellent Condemnd: Criminal Origins deserves all the negative (yet financially helpful) press that Manhunt received.

"The grudging nature of the BBFC’s statement, that it now has “no alternative” but to grant the title a certificate"


and thats the problem, it isnt about whats right/wrong, its about whats the current trend /policy the government wants people to look like they're supporting this week .


and thats just not right.



oh n in all fairness to rockstar, i actualyl creidt to them for being brave enough to release this game

@Corey
as I’ve said before, Rockstar is responsible for about 90% of the controversy in the gaming industry.

What controversy was there for rockstar table tennis? I seem to recall someone, probably he-who-shall-not-be-named (Not from fear of his awesome but very short lived legal career, more because he's not worth talking about) trying to start something but can't remember what it was? Something about jiggly boobies perhaps, I suspect it must have been a sex controversy.

I've not played Manhunt 1 or 2 yet, never seen them to buy but as mentioned Condemned: Criminal Origins gets a bit gruesome in places. Hehe and it scares the shit out of rednecks.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSa6YmLyols

@Aliasalpha
First off, that was one of the funniest game videos I've ever seen. Secondly, I'm sure Jack Thompson and others did everything they could to find something wrong with Table Tennis. Unfortunately for them there were not any hidden sex scenes to complain about. Nonetheless, I still think Rockstar gets a lot of undeserved attention when there are far more violent games on the market that get ignored by the press. Look at games like Gears of War where you can dismember opponents with a chainsaw. Or the God of War series with its over the top finishing moves and hot steamy threesomes. And of course I already mentioned the brutaly violent Condemnd series. All of these games have something in common. They are all far more violent than Manhunt and yet they got ignored by the mainstream media. Rockstar games has become the honorary whipping boy of the industry and I just don't understand why. Yes they make violent games but so do a lot of other developers. The games I just mentioned came from Epic, Sony, and Sega respectively. I could go on all day about games I feel are just as violent if not more so than Manhunt and GTA but I think I'll just end my rant here and go shoot some more terrorists in the head on Rainbow Six Vegas 2.

Thats the problem with any system that bans they become moot in a free society, because normal citizens will scoff and circumvent their foolishness even if tis a minor crime to import baned media.

the BBFC needs to get off tis high horse and stick with slotting media and letting the populace decide what THEY want as a FREE society....

Okay, so the BBFC made the wrong call on Manhunt 2, but the system worked, and VAC got the game released on appeal. I certainly put more store in what the BBFC say, given their approach to certification than than the tickbox-checking PEGI method.

Jezcentral
being released after a year+ under undue process is nto helpful to anyone.

@ Jazcentral

I'm glad you're ok with your tax money being wasted on the legal fees the BBFC have to cough up for the year long debacle.

@Xen

It's just as well the BBFC isn't funded by the UK tax payer then.

I've got a very good understanding of how the BBFC works thanks; it's funded by the submission fees it charges to the industry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bbfc

BBFC ratings are not presently compulsory for all video games, only those that lose exemption under section 2 of the Video Recordings Act 1984. Same goes for some video works, like music or sports videos. If they are exempt they don't need to be classified.

Moreover, presently those classifications can only apply to a physical product. Distribution of PC games online via a service like Steam, for example, isn't covered.

The PEGI system is completely voluntary, it's the console platform holders who mandate all games published on their platforms have ratings, nobody else.

The BBFC's accounts are published in their annual report each year but if you still doubt this post and/or Wikipedia then feel free to write to Department of Culture Media and Sport, a film distributor or a games publisher and they'll confirm it for you.

this is gay
 
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