- 14 Mar 08, 11:52 GMT
The news that Rockstar has won its long-standing battle to release Manhunt 2 in the UK brings to a conclusion a very confusing, and some would say black, period for games certification (censorship) in the UK.
On one side Rockstar said Manhunt 2 was an entertainment product which fell within the bounds of content established by 18 certificate films like Saw and Hostel.
On the other, the British Board of Film Classification, was adamant that the game "went too far" and was unremittingly bleak and callous.
More worryingly, the BBFC said the game had the potential to do harm.
And this was the crux of the matter. What harm could the game do? The BBFC seemed to suggest that the game would find its way into the hands of minors.
But this could apply to any form of adult entertainment, argued others.
So where does this leave the games industry and those who are responsible for ensuring we are protected from harmful content?
In a mess, is the frank answer. Who should we believe when it comes to video games?
Developers or the BBFC?
One could argue that the process has proved effective - as the Video Appeals Committee, an extension of the BBFC, were the ones who eventually decided the game should be released.
But the grudging nature of the BBFC's statement, that it now has "no alternative" but to grant the title a certificate, coupled with the fact the body went to the High Court, twice rejected the game itself and tried to overturn the original judgment of the VAC leaves the organisation with its credibility bruised and battered.
Perhaps more crucially, the BBFC's role as the body which classifies games is now under definite scrutiny.
There has long been confusion among consumers as to why there are often two certificates on UK games, from the BBFC and European body PEGI.
The BBFC's dogged fight to ban Manhunt 2, even though it was an 18 game and even though industry figures lined up to defend the title, might come back to haunt it.
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