To: The Game Industry
From: Gen Katz, Editor
Topic: Six Flavors of Violence
Date: Apr 2007

Of course the news about Manhunt 2 essentially being banned in England, Ireland, Germany and Australia and getting an AO rating by the ESRB, would give me another chance to rail about the violence in the game industry. The game, from the GTA publisher Take-Two, was banned because of "casual sadism". Casual Violence is not a category that ESRB has implemented yet, but it may just be a matter of time for that category to be needed.

During the same week, ESRB had also requested that the trailer for Dark Sector be made unavailable for download. Of course assurances were made that this in no way effects the final game play content of Dark Sector, or the ability to capture direct feed footage for distribution.

Back in 2002, The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) upped the violent categories from 4 to 6 to better describe the types of violence that occurs in games. Here they are, in case you haven't looked at them recently:

  • Cartoon Violence - Violent actions involving cartoon-like characters. May include violence where a character is unharmed after the action has been inflicted.
  • Fantasy Violence - Violent actions of a fantasy nature, involving human or non-human characters in situations easily distinguishable from real life.
  • Intense Violence - Graphic and realistic-looking depictions of physical conflict. May involve extreme and/or realistic blood, gore, weapons, and depictions of human injury and death.
  • Mild Violence - Mild scenes depicting characters in unsafe and/or violent situations.
  • Sexual Violence - Depictions of rape or other sexual acts.
  • Violence - Scenes involving aggressive conflict.

This does not include the separate categories for Blood, Animated blood (dancing?) and Blood and Gore. And what were the classifications they dropped that year - Reading Skills, Fine Motor Skills, Higher Level Thinking Skills. We have become connoisseurs of violence. Fine tuning it to titillate the discriminating consumer. There is something seriously amiss in a society that is so enraptured by violence and something insensate in those who pander to it.

There are some who are pushing against this trend. One is Manifesto Games who has added PeaceMaker by Impact Games to their line-up. The development team is made up of an American, Eric Brown and Asi Burak from Israel. They have you in the role of either the Israeli Prime Minister or the Palestinian President, and your mission is to make peace. Now, that's a challenge that is worth spending 40 hours on.