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“NAMI asks Rockstar Games to recall or further modify the videogame Manhunt2 due to its irresponsible, stereotyped portrayal of mental illness. We also ask retailers to be responsible in responding to public health concerns.
Even though some people may consider Manhunt2 to be only a game, it unfortunately perpetuates and reinforces cruel, inaccurate perceptions that people who live with mental illnesses are violent. The U.S. Surgeon General has condemned such stigmatization, identifying fear of stigma as a major barrier to people getting help when they need it. The overall contribution of mental illnesses to violence in society is exceptionally small. In fact, people living with mental illness are far more likely to be victims of violence.
Released on Halloween, Manhunt2 enables players to assume the role of a patient fighting to escape from the “Dixmor Asylum for the Criminally Insane.” The patient uses a variety of sickening techniques to torture and kill security officers and others in his way.
Manhunt2 initially received an “Adults Only” rating for players ages 18 and older in the United States. This rating would have limited the game’s market; several major retailers will not sell games with that rating. Rockstar made some small changes to the game, including the removal of a graphic scene with castration, and received a new rating of “Mature” for players ages 17 and older. The British Board of Film Classification was not satisfied with the changes and citing the game’s “unremitting bleakness” and “casual sadism,” has banned the game in the United Kingdom.
Concern over the violence reflected in the game up until now has not yet been extended to include the outrageous portrayal of the 54 million people in the United States who live with serious mental illnesses. We do not favor censorship, but we do ask for responsible exercise of creative rights when serious public health concerns are at issue. It is our right to demand a higher standard."
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