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We know that plenty of people think gore-fest Manhunt has no place in the happy world of videogames, but former Rockstar employee Jeff Williams has revealed on his blog that the controversial game also caused a swell of disquiet at the company's New York HQ.
"It may sound surprising, but there was almost a mutiny at the company over that game. It was Rockstar North's pet project - most of us at Rockstar Games wanted no part of it. We'd already weathered plenty of controversy over GTA3 and Vice City - we were no strangers to it - but Manhunt felt different. With GTA, we always had the excuse that the gameplay was untethered - you never had to hurt anybody that wasn't a "bad guy" in one of the missions. You could play completely ethically if you wanted, and the game was parody anyway, so lighten up," Williams writes.
"Manhunt, though, just made us all feel icky. It was all about the violence, and it was realistic violence. We all knew there was no way we could explain away that game. There was no way to rationalize it. We were crossing a line."
Above: Manhunt made many at Rockstar feel "icky"
In addition to the Manhunt revelation, Williams - who was employed as web producer at the company and was involved in the creation of sites for Midnight Club II, Red Dead Revolver, Manhunt and viral sites such as the still-very-amusing Degenatron.com - also talks about the Hot Coffee scandal, explaining that he knew about the hidden GTA San Andreas sex minigame that ultimately cost Rockstar more than $50 million.
"I don't think most of the company knew, but one of the guys closer to the game than I was had seen the scenes in question and I ended up hearing about it. He couldn't believe it himself, and just assumed the scenes would be removed before the game was released." However, Williams doesn't think the costly bit of code was left in on purpose: "I don't believe anyone - no matter who at Rockstar knew about this - thought these scenes would end up in retail copies of the game in any way, shape or form. This was not a question of malice. It was more likely a simple mistake, and who bears ultimate responsibility I have no idea, but the code was obviously obfuscated rather than being removed."
Head over to Jeff's blog for more insider dirt about life behind closed doors at Rockstar - it's certainly a fascinating read.
July 26, 2007