Little rant here..
The ESRB has been SERIOUSLY pissing me off recently. I thought the MPAA was horrible, but those guys are pornographers based on the standards ESRB uses to rate videogames.
First of all, there's that whole deal with Manhunt 2. Since no retailers will carry an Ao (Adults Only) rated game, and no game console manufacturers will allow Ao games on their systems, the ESRB has de facto censorship control over many games. They rate Manhunt 2 as Ao and it CAN NOT be released. That's too much power for any organization to have, period. And why have an Ao rating if it is the definition that retailers use to no carry a game. I thought the purpose of ratings was a guideline for consumers to accurate select games that are appropriate for them, not to deliver a black mark of censorship on any product the ESRB wishes.
How about control freaks too? The newest bunch of bullshit coming out of left field is that now the ESRB wants control over ratings AND distribution of internet trailers! Even the MPAA doesn't go that far. They want to rate trailers (which will cost money to the publishers, of course) and any trailer for a game rated Mature or Adults Only must be behind an "age gate" (those things where they ask your birthday).
What's wrong with that? First, age gates are stupid and they don't work.
Any kid will figure out immediately. Heck, when I bother to do it, "I just say I was born in 1969, just because I can."
The second problem is that they said that trailers for M or Ao games must be behind age gates. Not that the trailers are M or Ao, but that the games are. That's like saying you have to be 18 to see a trailer for an R-rated movie.
Also in that little posting is the note that the trailers for the game Dark Sector were so offensive that the ESRB wouldn't even let them be posted behind age gates. That's right. They don't just have the ability to control which games get released, but also which TRAILERS do!
Their goal of cleansing the videogame world of every nasty thought for the sake of our children is an admirable goal, but children aren't the only people who play videogames. Having the ability to outright ban videogames and even videogame trailers is just too much power, and the conservative context of the upcoming presidential election (in which videogame violence will no doubt play a part), we'll be seeing more and more control enforced at the whims of the ESRB. I have a major problem with that, and not just because I wanted to play Manhunt 2. (well maybe a little)
In the more major mediums, out right censorship takes place. With the radio and broadcast television, the FCC is psychotic - but both have private alternatives like Serius Radio or HBO. With the movies, the MPAA is psychotic, but when the movies get released to DVD these days, it's the unrated director's cut.
But what alternatives do videogames have? An ESRB rating is not only required by many large retailers (who, I should point out, have no problem selling the unrated director's cut of Hostel), but going unrated essentially guarantees that you can't sell your game at all. States are trying to pass laws which put M-rated (not even Ao-rated) games in back rooms that you need an id to get into, putting it on the same level as porn.
They rerated Oblivion based on the fact that hackers could remove female tops, and the boobs had NIPPLES! But they didn't just rerate the PC version of Oblivion. The rerated the Xbox 360 version, which you couldn't access nipples on. In both cases, the rerating costed the publishers millions as they had to recall and relabel all the games. If absolute control over distribution of products isn't enough, how about the ability to arbitrarily rerate games and put the bill of doing so on the publisher?
I just happen to think that there can be found value in any idea, even violence. Violence can send messages. Satirical messages, as used in Robocop. Realistic messages, demonstrated by things like Platoon or Saving Private Ryan. Intense messages, like Hostel or Straw Dogs. Comical messages, like Monty Python. Violence is not just one thing. It's a whole bunch of things - a whole bunch of meanings. No, they aren't all equal, but they all have value to a person adult enough to see it.
That's what this is all about. Somebody thinks something bad is going to happen. But it hasn't happened yet. It probably won't. And rather than having the balls to let our freedoms defend themselves, they force us to defend our freedoms before we are allowed to have them.I say, we release Manhunt 2, and then when the sky doesn't fall, people will either have to move on or shut the hell up