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Jul 29, 2004

Comments

1.

Just a crisis management / tech aside - retailers who withdraw products from sale really should be careful with their e-commerce systems. A search for ‘manhunt’ on the PC World (part of the store group) web site does give one exact match, though if you try to select the item you cannot.

If you use google as your search engine you can get the sku if you then try to order the product you are given the message: “SORRY Due to high demand the following item(s) are currently unavailable. SONY PLAYSTATION 2 GAME - CERT: 18 MANHUNT”.

2.

You know what would be really scary? If the PARENTS and/or kid was responsible for their own actions? Ooo, that just gives me shivers at night, letting people take responsibility for something they did.

3.

Not a surprise. In Germany a districtional court ordered on the 19th of July the nation-wide confiscation of all the game copies.

In Germany, video games, as with other media, are subject to censorship, or "decency standards", that are strict by the standars of other European nations. For video games there is the index, also known as the "banned" list, which is a list of video games considered immoral. Games showing the killing of humans with blood or severed body parts involved, or in general showing cruelty to humans, are placed on the index, at which point it becomes illegal to advertise the games, display them on store shelves, or sell them to anyone under 18. This of course dramatically impacts sales, so most video game companies selling games into Germany elect to create a special German version that narrowly avoids the index by changing the graphics. Instead of red blood coming out of a wound, green blood is shown, implying that aliens are being killed and not humans; or gears and springs are shown coming out of the wound, implying that the victims are robots.

In the case of Manhunt, the court ruled that the game is exalting, glorifing and belittling violence. That is a penal offense in Germany, the game cannot be distributed and also the possession is illegal.

For more details you can read here (warning german language): http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/49606


Gamespot had also an interesting article about Video Game Controversy (including Manhunt):
http://www.gamespot.com/features/6090892/index.html

4.

On a lighter note:
http://www.techcentralstation.com/072804C.html

Also:
http://allpsych.com/researchmethods/correlation.html

I think there's a "third factor" in the occational link between games/tv/movies and violence.

5.

Aren't we all crying for our games to be more "immersive"? And if you are really "immersed" for hours in a game where you are an actor in a snuff movie, butchering others in a graphically explicit way with chainsaws and other weapons, is this not likely to have SOME effect on you? I am sure that video games won't turn saints into killers. But somehow your mental image, your natural repulsion, of violence changes when you are actively slaughtering people for hours, even if it is "just a game".

I haven't played Manhunt, but saw enough reviews and screenshots to know what it is about, and it is a lot more violent and psychopatic than GTA, GTA is just more infamous for having sold better. Even the official Playstation 2 magazine called Manhunt "sick". Keeping that game off the store shelves, and just selling it under the counter to people over 18 is not a bad idea.

Of course, being European, I am culturally indoctrinated against violence. And endlessly amused about the game "Singles: Flirt up your life" causing a big stir in America, because it has full frontal pixelated nudity. If violence has a right to "freedom of speech", how about porn?

6.

It might be worth it for video game scholars to go back and do reviews of the literature on violence and television. I took two classes last fall which went into it. By this point the literature is prodigious, better-refined than when the research on the topic was begun, but still feels to me like a very blunt instrument (but then, I read a small and oldish section of it).

The idea that people develop schemas, or basic mental patterns, of human behavior and interactions throughout their lives by exposure to various situations made the most sense to me as an explanation of how media might be implicated in violence, but it doesn't deliver the simple causal answer a lot of parents seem to want about violent behavior. Sure, playing a violent game a lot might make you disposed to solve problems aggressively, but it's only one of a number of influences in your life. How do your parents and teachers react when you bully other children? How (and how frequently) do the news media you're exposed to represent violent acts? Albert Bandura was one of the proponents of this kind of multifaceted take on violence.

7.

The latest news on the Manhunter murder is that it was found in the victim's home, not the murderer's. This makes the assertion by the mother of the murdered boy that Manhunter was to blame all the more perplexing.

Richard

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