Wednesday, June 20, 2007

More on "Manhunt 2"

There is an enhanced article about "Manhunt 2" by the Associated Press, in which I found out about a Boston organization called Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood lobbying the ESRB to give Manhunt an AO (Adults Only) rating, which is equal to the MPAA giving a film an NC-17 rating. And here's the kicker, as you might be able to guess: No one in the CCFC has played or seen the game! I've been on their website and they seem like a well-intentioned organization, but I think they're wrong on this issue. I chose to write a letter to them, and here it is:

After reading your mission statement, I am very glad that organizations like yours exist to combat the rampant commericialism that is used by corporations to target our youth. However, I'd just read of your involvement in pressuring the ESRB to slap the AO rating on the upcoming video game "Manhunt 2", so that's why I'm compelled to write you this email. As an activist, I really do appreciate your efforts at outreach on the issue of businesses targeting children. But I'm also a video gamer. And I think you're out-of-bounds and reaching outside your purpose in lobbying for "Manhunt 2" to be rated Adults Only.
First, according to the AP article I just read that mentioned your group's opposition, none of you have PLAYED or SEEN the game. This is a long-running tradition that has to end. Politicians and groups like the CCFC use video games to make a name for themselves because they're easy targets. But how many of you have even held a gamepad? If you're basing your position on what some critic said, your position is extremely irresponible.
Also, and more importantly, I believe your group as well as the politicians are in a time warp and seriously out of touch. In the early years of video gaming, it was largely a child-to-teen dominated medium. Not many adults were playing video games back in the 80s or early 90s. I was one of those children. And as the years have progressed, do you want to know something? As an adult, I still play video games regularly. As do many others who have grown up playing them. Only speaking for myself, I love games like Super Mario and Sonic, among the many others that are kid-friendly and still fun for me to play. However, being as I'm an adult, I also enjoy more mature games like Grand Theft Auto, so I might also enjoy Manhunt 2. I know I can still play Manhunt 2, even if it's rated AO. But that's not the point I'm trying to make. The point I'm making is that "Manhunt 2" isn't targeting the grade or middle schooler. It's targeting the adult gamers like me, of which there are many. Also, The "AO" rating is the rough equal of an NC-17 by the MPAA. You've already established that you haven't even played or seen the game, so how would you know if there's content in the game justifying your position that it be rated "AO"? "Unremitting bleakness", in the words of Britain's ratings board, doesn't justify an "AO" rating, in my book.
To close, again, I'm glad your organization exists, and I think your objectives and goals would be better served by working on the other issues listed on your website. Just leave us gamers alone, please.
Thank you,
Jeffrey K. Blanch


Please write to the CCFC, and tell them to make better uses of their time. You should also write to the ESRB and tell them that the CCFC doesn't speak for you. The CCFC's email address is You can write the ESRB at their website at

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