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Violent Videogames Attract Criticism Again

Even before its release on Nintendo Co.'s Wii and Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 2, Manhunt 2 is making waves across the world. Countries ban the game one after another, but it only seems to the hysteria.

The game depicts the escape of an amnesiac scientist and a psychotic killer from an asylum and their subsequent epic killing spree.

As more violent games become available for the Wii, the debate about their participatory nature is intensifying. Researchers who have been critical of first-person shooter games -- in which the player pushes a button to activate a weapon -- say the Wii's increased interactivity raises the risk of antisocial behavior.

In the United States the nation's Entertainment game has received the most restrictive rating possible, Adult Only, from the Software Rating Board. In Britain, the game is banned.

An AO rating, which is rare and typically applied for sexual content, means nobody under 18 can buy the game -- in which case many retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy, will probably not carry it. Rockstar, which is owned by Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., announced Thursday it is temporarily suspending the game's release, which was scheduled for July 10, because of the controversy. The company has 30 days to appeal the rating, accept it, or revamp the game and resubmit it for a new rating.

Rockstar had hoped for an M (mature) rating so the game could be sold to 17-year-olds. "This is a horror genre," Rockstar spokesman Rodney Walker said. "People who like horror will love it."

When the Wii hit the market, many people were excited about its possibilities. Teenagers would get up off the couch and exert themselves while playing. The game system has also been used in physical therapy and in retirement communities, where elderly residents are using it to play virtual golf and bowl. Now that the system has been out for a while, the violent games are emerging -- Scarface, Resident Evil
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