27th Nov, 2007
In what may seem the worst tactical move since Hitler started eyeing up Russia, the British Board of Film Classification has admitted during Rockstar's appeal against Manhunt 2's continued ban in the UK that "there is insufficient evidence to prove, as a fact, there is a causal connection between violent games and behavioural harm". The fact itself is not news, but the admission at such a key time for the BBFC certainly is. So where does this leave the ban situation?
Well the hearing is over and a decision now has to be awaited. During its argument to the Video Appeals Commitee (The independent board which handles certification disputes in the UK), The BBFC did indeed drop the tack of games inciting violence but disclaimed that statement with the old chestnut that the research into the matter does not dis-prove it either. Quite possibly an illogical point when talking about banning something on an unproved assumption, but that's for the VAC to decide.
In addition to that, the BBFC fell back on its other main point in this debate, the fact that regardless of rating, Manhunt 2 will make it into the wrong, under-age hands at some point and thus has to be banned in order to err on the side of caution. It's true that we still have a major problem with uneducated parents not respecting game ratings, but whether the response to that should be to ban games rather than address an ineffective system is highly debatable.
Reference was also made to the question of whether games should be rated differently to movies, as the BBFC stated that film may be more involving as a medium but that it usually puts the consumer in the position of the victim rather than the killer, as is not the case in Manhunt 2.
No date is set for the VAC to announce its decision, but it has promised to make it as quickly as it can. The BBFC's own report on the link between games and violence (or not) can be found here.