Saturday, October 27, 2007

GameSpot Interviews Jeronimo Barrera on Manhunt, ESRB

First off, if you haven't seen "This Film is Not Yet Rated" (wiki), I would HIGHly recommend checking it out. It seems to me that the challenges formerly faced by the music industry (leading to explicit lyrics stickers) and the movie industry (leading to the MPAA's ratings board), are now hitting video games. Hard.

What's frustrating is there are ratings for games. The ESRB clearly marks all games. Commercials routinely state the appropriate ages for the game ("E for Everyone" or "T for Teen"). Why isn't anyone paying attention?
I can appreciate that the tech landscape can be a little confusing, nay daunting, but we've already learned this lesson. Why MUST we continue to go through this histrionic cycle every time the landscape of media evolves slightly.

*Disturbing art hasn't ruined America.
*Provocative literature hasn't messed us up.
*Jazz didn't destroy America.
*Radio shock jocks haven't destroyed America.
*Rock-n-roll didn't destroy America
*Rap hasn't destroyed America.
*Violent movies haven't taken us down.

So obviously it'll be the video games that bring us crashing down?

We're again subjected to this mass hysteria of very loud, opportunistic, individuals (making up a very small piece of the population) trying to convince anyone who will listen that, even though we've re-learned these lessons MANY times over, what would be best for the children of this country is to have the government goose-step in and censor content.

This is simply unacceptable.

Anywho, Gamespot has a fantastic interview with Jeronimo Barrera (what a friggin awesome name) regarding the challenges they went through with Manhunt 2 (a game not unlike the SAW movies). Originally it was given an Adults Only (AO) pretty much on strength of reputation (with no notes given on what would help reduce that rating to an "M" or Mature). This is exactly like giving a movie an NC-17, which severely impacts the games distribution.

Of course my favorite part is his description of the audio:
JB: The real star of the game is the audio. Not only
does it play an important part of the gameplay, it sets the tone and
mood for every single experience we throw at the player. We learned so
much from the original Manhunt and knew going into writing the dialogue
what works well in the game. The emphasis [is] on making the
interactions (especially of the Hunters) seem real but so twisted that
we blur the lines and it truly comes off sounding psychotic and at
times very funny. We hope we have surpassed expectations by maintaining
the production quality all Rockstar games have and at the same time
increasing the variety of situations people speak in, which aligned to
improvements in the AI that should lead to a game world that feels more

But the PS2 version still has headset functionality! This
really helps to enhance the experience. You'll hear Leo, and you can
use the mic to make sounds that attract the Hunters. On the Wii, we use
the speaker on the Wii-Mote in interesting ways too.

Give the interview a read here!

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