Films vs. Games

This post was published on Saturday 15 March 2008.

I was disappointed to see today that the ban on Manhunt 2 has been overturned:

Ban on ‘sadistic’ video game overturned

The game publisher’s argument is that the violence is no worse than, say, a Quentin Tarantino film, or some of what goes on in the TV series 24.   Therefore, they say, an ‘18’ rating is sufficient.

However I question this.   First of all, I find the violence in Tarantino’s films completely over the top.   I have never managed to see one of his films all the way through, because of the violence.

Second, there is an important difference between watching violence, and performing it yourself, as you do in a video game.   I enjoy playing video games, but I find that they affect me far more than violent films, because you are, literally, more involved in what’s going on.

Third, a violent film might last two hours (during which time, even in Tarantino, there is respite), but video games are far longer, and it seems Manhunt 2 has little respite:

In its original decision, the BBFC said that Manhunt 2 was distinguished by its “unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone” and that the game “constantly encouraged visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing”. “There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed,” the BBFC said.

I would argue in support of BBFC, that violence in video games is different to films, and that the length of time involved, and the lack of respite makes it far worse.