Writing in a letter to the Dutch parliament, Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin has indicated that there is no way to ban the release of controversial video game Manhunt 2
in the country, leading to press speculation that an uncensored version of the game could be released there.
The sequel to the already controversial Manhunt
has been effectively banned in many European countries, including Germany and the UK and was given an AO (Adults Only) rating in North America. As a result publisher Rockstar Games submitted a new version of the game in the U.S. which was recently passed with an ‘M’ for Mature rating
(the details of which has already caused its own controversy
Rockstar is currently appealing the game’s ban
in the UK, and no indication has been given of plans to release a censored version in Europe. As such it is unclear whether Ballin is talking about the original version of the game or not, but as quoted in an Associated Press report
he commented that, “The current law is based on the principle that every adult is considered capable of deciding for himself which games he wants to play, unless it contains illegal material.”
Ballin further indicated that whether children should be allowed to play a game is “the joint responsibility of parents, the audiovisual industry and the government”. However, there is no specific law or ratings board which covers violent video games in the Netherlands, and Ballin suggests that new policies are needed as a result.
The only legal recourse is a theoretical ability to prosecute anyone who sells violent games to those aged under sixteen years of age. As a result, Ballin has called for a “joint approach” in Europe which “could lead to a ban on the most violent games.”
Speculation has already emerged that Rockstar Games could launch the uncensored version of Manhunt 2
in the Netherlands alone, which would likely then become easily available on import, particular in neighboring European countries. The move would be highly unusual though and Rockstar has given no hint that it has any such plans.