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Ending ESRB Bias by Lifting the Ban of AO Titles

Games are beginning to become more and more violent, which has raised much controversy over the years. Nobody can deny that games like Condemned 2, Dead Space, GTA4, Call of Duty: World at War, Left 4 Dead and Dead Rising are very violent; EXTREMELY violent. I personally have no problem with extreme violence in video games but many other people do, seeing as how it is the most important factor the ESRB takes into consideration. Even children's games like Crash Bandicoot and littlebigplanet have warnings for "Animated Violence" on their ESRB labels. Now "Mature" games like the ones listed at the start of this paragraph are the ones that raise some flags. In Condemned 2 we see someone getting a knife straight through their skull, blood included. We even get to see someone's head thrown into a grinder, all in High Definition. In Dead Space, the objective of the game is to dismember every limb you see, also in High Definition. (1080p, for PS3 users.) Resident Evil 5 contains many gruesome head shots. Call of Duty: World at War allows you to shoot off the limbs of soldiers. Once again, this is all in High Definition Next-Gen graphics. Now you may be wondering why I keep mentioning the HD of these games, and I will now explain this.

I find the ESRB to be extremely biased towards certain games. They allow violence of the above caliber or worse into some video games, mainly the ones that are going to sell well. However, they censor some games for violence far more trivial. Let's use Rockstar's Manhunt 2 as an example. This game was released on the PS2 and PSP about two years ago. Up until it's release, it received some harsh criticism and controversy involving the ESRB. It kept receiving the rating of "Adults Only" for graphic violence. Now I'm sure everyone has heard of the AO rating, and I'm also sure that everyone knows that these games aren't published on leading consoles. For the most parts, no games with this rating even exist these days. Now, Manhunt 2 was finally released as a dulled-down "Mature" game. Rockstar finally earned this rating by hiding all the deaths in this game by using the most horrible blur censor in the history of video games. So this game resulted in being pretty damn crappy. It was still a great game, but the cheap censoring took away from the experience. It took away the reward of carefully planning your attack by lurking in the shadows and stalking your enemies. For some reason, the ESRB finds it necessary to censor a criminally insane guy throwing a bag over someone's head and watching them fall down, in PS2 Graphics. Really? With games like Condemned 2 getting away with everything that was censored in Manhunt 2, this really frustrates me as a fan of the Survival-Horror genre.

Now, aside from the obvious company name it came from, I see no reason why this game should have received its original AO rating. Various users modded the game to remove the censorship, and these videos can be found all over the web. I've seen these uncensored executions, and it's nowhere close to the level of head decapitations via chainsaw in Resident Evil 4 or being eaten alive in Code Veronica X, two very popular PS2 titles at the time. I'm only led to believe that Manhunt 2's censorship was just a flat out attack on Rockstar Games after the whole GTA: San Andreas "hot coffee" surfaced. The ESRB decided to go apes*** over the inferior graphics of Manhunt 2 in it's sequel. The ESRB is completely ridiculous. Manhunt 2 certainly isn't the first game to be destroyed by the ESRB, and it's certainly not the last. The threat of the AO rating is interfering with the gaming community. The ESRB was once a guideline for parents to find games suitable for their children, but now they just seem to use their powers for censorship. I think major console businesses like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo should lift this ban of AO titles. Let us, the gamers, play the games they were intended for us to play. Let us get our money's worth.

SnuggleBandit5166d ago

All i hope for is that they don't censor God of War 3

ZombieNinjaPanda5166d ago

I agree with this. The ESRB isn't meant to dictate how games are meant to be made, instead they are supposed to post guidelines on what ages a game may be suitable for.

But as you said, they've been getting c0cky lately and have been messing with devs also.

I remember in an interview with The guy Leading In GOW3, he kept mentioning the fact that he had to go back to the ESRB every once in a while to ask them "is this okay? is this too much?"

Stuff like that is really holding devs back this generation.

Saaking5166d ago

Yep, I'm getting tired of the ESRB. If a game is M then that means it's for 17+. I don't understand why so many people complain about violence in M rated games. After all THAT IS WHY IT FOR 17 and up. GTA and COD isn't for little kids (at least it's not supposed to be). It's the parents who are at fault here, not the game developers. ESRB needs to either do their job (rate the games, not limit what they can have) or just disappear.

fallenchicken5165d ago

I agree. If someone doesn't want to play a AO game, there is no need for them to buy it, it doesn't effect them at all. But banning the games so nobody can play effects many people who... want to play the game. Why do game companys get to tell us what we can play? I fear Heavy Rain could get a AO rating and have to go with a censored version because of the strip scene. If sony were to lift the ban on AO games,allowing Heavy Rain to do its thing, I dont think they're console would suffer at all.

itsralf5164d ago

I've always seen the PS3 as more of a mature console, while as the 360 is more geared towards the younger age group. Nearly every PS3 exclusive has been rated M so far. With the PS3 being the only console allowing AO games, Sony would open a whole new realm of gaming and profit immensely.

dsister445156d ago

What some of you guys don't seem to get is that there is no reason that AO rated games shouldn't be sold.The publishers could release their game to be downloaded over the internet.There is no law saying that the game can not be released.

When the ESRB rates the game as AO stores like Wal-mart and Target refuse to stock the game. As well as the major console manufacturers will not allow the games to be released on their consoles.


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knight6264927d ago

Only game iam waiting for is for mafia 2 nothing else intrest me well only Metal gear solid peace walkers but ill get that soon

Conloles4927d ago

Mafia 2 lol all 2K get money from is GTA style games and Nba 2K.

MightyMark4274927d ago

The only game I'm waiting for is Mafia II

killyourfm4927d ago

O_O - Not interested in XCOM?

Syaz14927d ago

nice. waiting to see what mafia 2 and spec ops the line has too offer. not into rts games, so civ 5 not for me, and not too familiar with x-com series.

AliTheBrit194927d ago

I think 2K are probably the best Publisher.

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