Monday, June 25, 2007

N'Gai Croal on Manhunt 2

This pretty much sums up Manhunt 2 for me. Italics and emphasis are my alterations.

Croal writes:

The thing is, while I can quibble with the BBFC and the IFCO's descriptions of the game, for the most part, I can't really disagree with them.

Yes, there is a "bleakness and callousness of tone," though it's certainly not "unremitting," as evidenced by that one darkly comic sequence during our joint play session that prompted us to first drop our jaws to the floor before laughing out loud. (Since you were wielding the Wiimote and nunchuk during that scene, I'll give you the honor of describing it to our dear readers.)

Yes, the overall game context "constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing," though as you point out, the protagonist is sufficiently horrified by his first kill that he drops to his knees and vomits.

Yes, there indeed "is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged."

Yes, the game does have an "unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying," and there is a "sheer lack of alternative pleasures on offer to the gamer."

And yes, the game does include "acts of gross violence or cruelty including mutilation and torture."

My response to all of that is, so what? What does that have to do with adults like you, or me, or the aforementioned magazine editor making our own decisions as whether or not we want to play this game? What does that have to do with the countless number of adults in the U.K. or Ireland for whom the BBFC and the IFCO have decided to play nanny, wag their respective index fingers, and say, "We know better than you, and we in our infinite wisdom have decided that you can't play this game"? Unless they have good reason to believe that this game is an imminent threat to the public order, or that it will in and of itself incite adults to violence, their decision seems to me to be based on taste, and I will never believe in substituting anyone else's tastes for my own.

I am not a believer in censorship, although that doesn't mean all things appeal to me.