won't find gift of death, violence under the tree (Indianapolis
I can't sleep. It must be this sugar high I'm on. I scarfed my last
six handfuls of Halloween candy as I was waiting in the snow at 3 a.m.
on Black Friday, before Toys R Us opened the floodgates.
But I lost. I didn't get the video games I wanted. The games I wanted
to give as gifts. The games I wanted to play.
And now I can't sleep. Too much turkey. Too much candy. Too many shoppers.
Santa dude, I need your help.
Santa, you probably know that, according to research by the Massachusetts
General Hospital Center for Mental Health and Media, M-Rated (for ages
17 and older) video games are the most popular games among young teens.
And you probably read the Federal Trade Commission survey that found
42 percent of children reported they could buy an M-rated game if they
I know I'm supposed to be 17 to buy one. Whatever. Research confirms
that two-thirds of boys in the seventh and eighth grade play M-rated
games. That's me.
So don't act surprised when you see "Manhunt 2" at the top
of my Christmas list. You know, "Manhunt 2," the new ultra-violent
video game from Rockstar Games and Take Two Interactive? Please tell
me you're not banning "Manhunt 2," like Target stores, and
the entire country of Great Britain.
Because I really can't wait to play it, and be Daniel Lamb, the escaped
inmate from the neighborhood asylum, as he goes crazy on a homicidal
rampage. How cool is that? In the first "Manhunt" game, you
could take a plastic bag and suffocate your victim as you watched them
struggle to breathe and ultimately die. I hear in "Manhunt 2" you
get to rip out a skull with a sickle, and beat a guy's head in with a
And I really want the Wii version, because then I can stand up and act
out every murder with my handy nunchuk. Way better than just pushing
buttons on the PS2 controller.
Santa, please don't think I'm too young to play "Manhunt 2." I
read where a spokesman for Take Two said "Manhunt 2" was intended "specifically
for those players mature enough to appreciate it."
And I appreciate it. Just like I appreciate "Gears of War," "Halo
3," "Call of Duty 4," "Resident Evil 4," "Ace
Combat 6." Those are the ones I'm giving my friends for Christmas.
Santa, my buddy wants a game about date rape and one about lynchings,
but I can't find either one. Maybe it's too tough to get past the ratings
board. But you'd think if maximum carnage is usually the goal, what's
the big deal? It's not like we're gonna go out and really commit a rape
or lynch someone. I mean, I've never suffocated someone with a plastic
bag in real life. See what I mean?
Can you help me Santa? Signed your friend, Tyler.
Can I ask a favor this Christmas? Seeing that we are celebrating the
birthday of Jesus Christ. And seeing that Jesus was the greatest peacemaker
of all time. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't want "Manhunt 2" for
his birthday. I think if he opened it up on Christmas morning, he might
politely smile and say, "Thank you." Then drop it in the trash.
No, he'd recycle it. No, he'd probably tell a brilliant parable about
the lost son and the video game.
I don't know. But I bet he wouldn't play the game. And I'm guessing he
wouldn't want his friends playing "Manhunt 2" at his birthday
party either. And he probably wouldn't want to see the day when human
beings could conjure up a game about maximum carnage, or date rape, or
Tyler, this Christmas season as you're shopping for your friends, think
of this phrase, "Peace on earth, good will toward men." And
if you absolutely have to buy a M-rated video game for your friend, because
you just can't think of anything else better than giving the gift of
homicidal gaming, save it for a time other than Christmas.
Ted Mandell teaches in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre
at the University of Notre Dame.
Copyright 2008 Ted Mandell.