• U.K. Repeals Ban of Violent Video Game
  • April 17, 2008
  • Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • A U.K. agency has reluctantly reversed an earlier decision banning Rockstar Games’ ultraviolent game “Manhunt 2.”

    The ruling by the British Board of Film Classification, which comes nine months after its initial decision, authorizes the sale of the video game to consumers over 18 years of age. The “certificate 18” rating follows a final ruling by the Video Appeals Committee to release the game. It is slated to appear on U.K. shelves later this year.

    The game revolves around a man (the player) who wakes up in a living nightmare where he is being stalked for sport and must sneak through the shadows and kill by whatever means he can to fight his way out. In June 2007, the BBFC denied Rockstar the right to distribute Manhunt 2 in the U.K., citing the game’s “bleakness and callousness of tone.” In October 2007, the board rejected a revised version of the game.

    Rockstar appealed to the Video Appeals Committee, which voted 4-3 to allow the game’s distribution on the condition that it is sold only to consumers over age 18.

    “As I have said previously, we never take rejection decisions lightly, and they always involve a complex balance of considerations,” said BBFC Director David Cooke. “We twice rejected Manhunt 2, and then pursued a judicial review challenge, because we considered, after exceptionally thorough examination, that it posed a real potential harm risk. However, the Video Appeals Committee has again exercised its independent scrutiny. It is now clear, in the light of this decision, and our legal advice, that we have no alternative but to issue an 18 certificate to the game.”

    In a statement, Rockstar Games said it was “pleased” that Manhunt 2 would finally be available in the U.K. and pledged to market it “responsibly.” It will release a less violent version than originally designed, although hackers have been able to undo similar revisions in some U.S. versions.