ELSPA Director General Paul Jackson has issued a statement praising the BBFC's recent decision to deny classification for Rockstar's Manhunt 2, effectively banning the game from sale in Great Britain. Jackson said the decision "demonstrates that we have a games ratings system in the UK that is effective" and emphasized that the arrangement "works and works well."
Frankly, we're a bit shocked that an organization whose stated mission is to "protect, promote and provide for the interests of all its members" would support state-sponsored censorship of one of its member's products. The point of ratings, at least as we see it, is to inform the public about the content of a game before they buy it, so they're not surprised by any objectionable materials contained within. The whole idea is that informed consumers can make the best choices for themselves and their families. The BBFC's decision goes against this ideal by effectively telling British adults they're not mature enough to decide whether or not they can handle this game. How is that an "effective" system?
Jackson's statement does not address BBFC Director David Cooke's unsupported assertion that the game's availability would "involve a range of unjustifiable harm risks, to both adults and minors ... [that] would be unacceptable to the public." Does ELSPA really agree that the mere availability of a game to adults can damage a society so badly that its distribution must be stopped? If so, is that a message ELSPA's member organizations are willing to get behind as well?
In his statement, Jackson stresses that games "appeal to all kinds of people across the country, young and old, male and female." What about the people Manhunt 2 appeals to? Apparently, they're just out of luck, as far as ELSPA's concerned.