Following news that Manhunt 2
had been cleared for an M-rated release, California State Senator Leland Yee, a long time critic of ESRB self-regulation, has called for the FTC to investigate the board's rating policy, saying transparency is needed on how the down-rating decision was made.
Officials from Rockstar Games confirmed last week
that a "modified version" of the studio's title had been cleared by the ESRB for a North American release for the Wii, PlayStation 2, and PSP, though no details on modifications were given at the time.
As noted by political industry blog GamePolitics
, in a press release entitled "Most Violent Game Ever Released to be Sold to Children," Yee, who has authored the state's over-turned AB1179 anti-violent game bill, has said that "parents can't trust a rating system that doesn't even disclose how they come to a particular rating."
Said Yee, "The ESRB and Rockstar should end this game of secrecy by immediately unveiling what content has been changed to grant the new rating and what correspondence occurred between the ESRB and Rockstar to come to this conclusion. Unfortunately, history shows that we must be quite skeptical of these two entities."
While allowing that M rated games primarily are targeted to adult customers, Yee cites the most recent FTC findings
, which, despite reporting a 362% decrease in retail outlets selling M rated games to minors since the year 2000, still shows 42 percent failing to to refuse sales -- an unacceptable level of availability to the Senator.
Concluded Yee, "Clearly the ESRB has a conflict of interest in rating these games. It is time to bring transparency to this rating system and for the industry to be held accountable. I join the CCFC in urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the process by which Manhunt 2
's rating was downgraded from AO to M."
The press release again emphasized the state's plans, backed by governor Arnold Schwartzenegger to appeal the court's decision
that deemed the violent games bill unconstitutional.