Autopsy: Violence in Entertainment

Dennis Faas's picture

In the past, I've shared my difference of opinion with PC World's local gaming expert, Matt Peckham. However, in a recent blog he's brought up a fine point many gamers have and will continue to use in defence of their hobby: a double-standard exists between games and movies when it comes to violence.

At the current moment, Rockstar Games' Manhunt 2 is the most controversial title to arrive on home consoles in some time. The original Manhunt placed the player in the position of a criminal who must survive a maze of dark levels occupied by brutal, merciless murderers. The only way to survive was to kill pre-emptively, a formula repeated in Manhunt 2. Although the original title, released for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC, was attacked for the nature of its gameplay, its successor has faced far more difficult obstacles in reaching retail shelves.

As Peckham points out, James Streyer, CEO of ratings group Common Sense Media, recently described Rockstar's new Manhunt as "the most horrific, senselessly violent stuff you've ever seen." That view has been shared by some major retailers and even an entire nation, with Target and the U.K. ratings board denying Manhunt 2 outright. (Source:

Sure, it's brutal. But, is it alone?

In its first weekend in release, Saw IV, a movie as gory as it sounds raked in over $31 million to place first at the box office. In its second week, Saw IV also boasted impressive numbers, bringing in over $11 million and placing third behind only Denzel Washington's American Gangster and Jerry Seinfeld's Bee Movie. (Source:

What it shows is that violence sells in North America. But, few voices in the media have lashed out at Saw, despite the fact that many more young people will see it than Manhunt 2.

Of course, the ironic twist is that the more the media makes of Manhunt 2, the more young gamers are going to want to play it. Hey, even I'm interested to see just how bad this thing really is. Let's face it, the game's reputation is now on par with a grisly highway accident. You can't help but look as you crawl by.

In the end, if we have no problem breaking the link between movie violence with real-life homicide, then there's no reason to point fingers at Rockstar or Manhunt. The mere fact that Manhunt 2 is rated 'Mature' should keep some gamers from getting their hands on the title.

But will that same standard be applied to Saw IV?

Bloody unlikely.

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