Each week Dennis McCauley contributes The Political Game, a column on the collision of politics and video games:
Start with the Adults Only rating that the ESRB slapped on Manhunt 2. That may seem like a bad thing, but it's not. Just as new NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently cracked down on thug players for the good of the sport, the ESRB needed to prove to parents and politicians that the video game industry could police itself. By assigning an AO to Manhunt 2 ESRB president Patricia Vance certainly did just that. Surely new ESA top dog Mike Gallagher was in on the final decision as well.
In any case, Gallagher and Vance did what needed to be done. The bottom line is that the industry comes out smelling like a rose. And -- bonus cliché -- the proverbial line in the sand has now been drawn. While some content creators will understandably chafe at any sort of limits, the fact is that video games are not only big business but a form of entertainment which people invite into their homes. There needs to be a certain amount of public trust. Designers who can't deal with the realities of the market are welcome to go the Ryan Lambourn route.