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Rockstar fights back against BBFC

Mon 26 Nov 2007 2:21pm GMT / 9:21am EST / 6:21am PST

Rockstar today launched its appeal against the BBFC's decision to refuse Manhunt 2 certification, accusing the board of putting its reputation above the interests of gamers.

Rockstar today launched its appeal against the BBFC's decision to refuse Manhunt 2 certification, accusing the board of putting its reputation above the interests of gamers.

Geoffrey Robertson, representing Rockstar, began the proceedings by claiming the British Board of Film Classification was a misnomer - suggesting it should instead be referred to as the British Board of Videogame Censors.

"There's no evidence that playing interactive videogames leads to a propensity to act them out in real life. We wonder why Manhunt 2 has been singled out for special treatment," he stated.

Robertson went on to accuse the BBFC of being "simply ignorant of the gaming experience" and "throwing adjectives with hyperbolic abandon at the game".

"Their reputation is not at stake; if it were we could show how, over the last century, they've been derided for some of the most stupid decisions in censorship history," he continued. "But we're not going to go down that road."

According to statistics presented by Robertson, there are 26.5 million gamers in the UK. Their average age is 28 and the gender split is 45 per cent female, 55 per cent male.

Addressing the panel from the Video Appeals Committee present to hear Rockstar's appeal Robertson said, "There you are, seven of you - not one of you has experienced, I'm told by the chairman, computer games, or are a gamer."

At this point one member of the panel interjected, stating, "That's not true. Some of us actually have played computer games." It was also confirmed that the panel did play Manhunt 2 in advance of the hearing.

Robertson described as "offensive and outrageous" the "allegation the board makes against adults in this country that they're somehow going to go and shoot or kill as a result of playing Manhunt 2.

"Millions of gamers play videogames and no crime has ever been directly attributed to them, with one exception."

The exception, Robertson explained, was the alleged connection between the original Manhunt and the murder of British teenager Stefan Pakeerah. The police later issued a statement which said Pakeerah's killer did not own the game and there was no connection.

Robertson added, "We say [Manhunt 2] has been banned not because of any likelihood it will harm gamers, but because of the likelihood it will harm the reputation of the BBFC."

The appeal is ongoing.

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