Rockstar's appeal against the BBFC's decision to reject a modified version of Manhunt 2 has been successful.
The Video Appeals Committee announced its decision to allow the appeal today. Although the final judgement has not yet been released, the organisation says that it decided in favour of Rockstar by four votes to three.
"The BBFC will carefully study the judgement by the Video Appeals Committee when it becomes available," said BBFC director David Cooke, who revealed that the BBFC "played Manhunt 2 for well over 30 hours" before rejecting it.
"There are few options open to us - we can go to the High Court to appeal the decision - but we'll be making a further statement when we've seen the full report," BBFC spokesperson Sue Clark added on our sister site GamesIndustry.biz.
Cooke continued: "The BBFC twice rejected Manhunt 2 for its focus on varied and cumulative killings. We recognise that rejection is a very serious step, in which the desire of publishers to market their games, and that of gamers to buy them, must be balanced against the public interest, including the full range of possible harm risks to vulnerable individual and to any children who may be wrongly exposed to such games. Such balancing judgements are inevitably complex and multi-faceted, and are made only after very careful consideration of the contents of a work."
Cooke said the BBFC continues to believe "that a broad approach to the possible risks is needed, which goes beyond purely behavioural harm, and which also takes account of other possible effects on the sensibilities and attitudes of individuals".
Whether or not this means Manhunt 2 will be released in the UK will initially depend on the BBFC's decision about whether to appeal the outcome.
Rockstar issued the following statement following today's events: "We are committed to making great interactive entertainment, while also marketing our products responsibly and supporting an effective rating system. We are pleased that the decision of the VAC has recognised that Manhunt 2 is well within the bounds established by other 18+ rated entertainment."
The original BBFC rejection of Manhunt 2 cited the game's "sustained and cumulative casual sadism" and how its "unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying and the sheer lack of alternative pleasures on offer to the gamer, together with the different overall narrative context" differentiated it from the original Manhunt. In a bad way, it would seem.
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