Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Red Pixels revisited: Manhunt

I know I'm a little behind the times here, but I just became aware of the Manhunt series yesterday, after hearing about a ruling banning Manhunt 2 from sale in the UK. So how nasty does a game have to be for a game to get banned in the UK? Admittedly, Britain's morality is a little odd in the sense that it's so tolerant, it's managed to shoot itself in the foot, slowly politically correcting itself to death.

This was made particularly clear to me when I found out that my wee nephew isn't allowed so say the word "bad" or "naughty" at his daycare centre. In fact, no one is. They say "sad choice" instead, e.g "So-and-so made a sad choice." Sapir-Whorf being put to work?

Anyway, back to Manhunt. As I mentioned, I was curious, so I did the obvious thing and checked the usual suspects, Wiki and Youtube. And what I have to say about Manhunt is... whoa:

I'm not sure if this is a game anymore or an SAS guide to assassination with improvised weapons. I for one find it highly disturbing that this game manages to do more horrible things with plastic bags*, hammers, sickles and knives than UT3 manages with miniguns, plasma guns and tactical nukes.

I suppose the twinge of revulsion from watching the Manhunt executions comes from the fact that it shows a dark side to human nature that's in all of us. The line between gameworld and IRL has been made a little thinner by the fact that Manhunt's violence is so readily accessible to us IRL. I for one am not at all comfortable with the thinning of that line. The fact that Manhunt 2 is on Wii seems particularly worrying.

N.B: That was a parody, just so we're clear on that.

There's something terribly disturbing about Manhunt. Perhaps a decade ago, I'd have looked at it and just gone "Wow! Cool!" and not have given it a second thought. It would have been just a game, and it would never even have occured to me to look at it as more than that. Now I'm not so sure.

* A thought just hit me: Wouldn't it take some seriously mad skillz to sneak up on somebody while carrying a plastic bag? I mean, assuming relatively low levels of ambient noise?

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