Tiga president Fred Hasson and psychologist Guy Cumberbatch were today called to speak in defence of Rockstar at the appeal against the BBFC's decision to refuse certification for Manhunt 2.
Hasson told the Video Appeals Committee panel he had played four levels of the game and was "surprised at how tame it is compared to some very graphical scenes I've seen in other games which have received certification. I expected it to be a lot worse... I can't believe that this has been singled out as something that is worth banning."
The BBFC's representative said Hasson had accused the board of making its decision based on articles in publications such as the Daily Mail, and asked the Tiga boss if he stood by this allegation.
"I can only come to the conclusion that is the case," Hasson replied. "Having seen the content of the game, I can't see any other reason why they've done that."
Next up was chartered psychologist Guy Cumberbatch, who has conducted extensive research into the issue of violence in the media. He told the panel that although playing games does produce adrenaline, "By and large, the plot and narrative is relatively unimportant for most videogamers. Their emotional involvement in the games is relatively weak.
"There's a scatterbrain logic which is applied to videogames - if [people] play, they must be violent," Cumberbatch continued. "By and large, people who are attracted to media violence tend to be less sensitive and more thick-skinned... Most of these people are nerd characters, they tend to be anoraks."
Cumberbatch said he conducted a survey in which the 86 respondents all had experience of at least two 18-rated films and two 18-rated games. They played Manhunt 2 for 15 minutes and were shown a compilation of clips, put together by Take-Two, representing different levels in the game.
The respondents were then asked whether they thought Manhunt 2 was more, less or equally as violent as other games or films. While 68 per cent thought there were other games equally as violent, 80 per cent said there were equally violent films. According to Cumberbatch, a number of respondents spontaneously suggested "people are going to be disappointed" at the level of violence if the game is released.
"Certainly no one's going to suggest Manhunt 2 is one of the least violent games around," Cumberbatch said.
"In my own limited experience of playing Manhunt 2, it's fairly sanitised as a work compared with what you might expect in a film."
The BBFC will be defending its decision as the hearing continues this afternoon.