Video Game Cases – Killer 7
Killer 7 is a M-rated video game which was developed and published
by Capcom. Capcom
describes the game as the following:
In killer 7, players take on the role of
Harman Smith an unlikely assassin who leads a life as the "master"
who rules over seven alter egos. Switching between his seven different
personalities, Harman employs each personality's unique abilities
to complete their mission. Now, a powerful underworld kingpin has
unleashed violent creatures onto the world called 'Heaven's Smile.'
These crazed soldiers, affixed with horrific smiles, have started
to wreak havoc on city streets. It is up to the player to interchange
Harman's seven 'partners' and utilize the special powers that dwell
within them in order to assassinate Kun Lan, the notorious criminal
overlord behind all the madness.
A month after a review 
of this game was posted on the popular gamer site IGN,
Jack Thompson protested against the game's rating in an open letter
to Patricia Vance, president of the ESRB
(Electronic Software Rating Board), and demanded a rerating of the
game to AO. In this letter he also accused the ESRB
of being part of a conspiracy to distribute sexual content to minors:
August 5, 2005
President Entertainment Software Rating Board
317 Madison Avenue, 22nd Floor
New York, NY 10017
Re: Killer 7
Dear Ms. Vance:
I have just learned facts that indicate the above violent game
most likely deserves an “AO” rating rather than the
“M” rating which your ESRB has given it.
The following is found in a review of Killer 7 by Matt Casamassina
at http://cube.ign.com/articles/630/630908p1.html which contains
the following observations at this pro-violent game Internet site:
“…profanity, sex and bloodshed are commonplace…
We can't stress it enough: kids should not play Killer 7. Not
just because there's an M on the box, but because for once that
M really means something. There's much more than blood and guts
in the game. Everything from the design of puzzles to the subject
matter is designed for older players and it's really that simple….
And there are cinematics that feature full-blown sex sequences….
Killer 7's adult themes, which encapsulate extremely violent,
profane and sexual situations, as well as a wide range of issues
from terrorism to the sale of children, make the M on the box
really mean something.”
There is no question in my mind that a video game containing
“full-blown sex sequences” cannot be rated anything
other than “AO” rather than “M.” The reviewer
above in fact says that this game’s “M” actually
means something, and he says it twice for emphasis.
Well, the Killer 7 game underscores the fact that your organization
and the industry it fronts for appear to try to get away with
anything that is harmful to kids, whether already illegal or not.
What it also means is that if jurors in a criminal prosecution
were asked whether Killer 7 contains “sexual material harmful
to minors” in violation of statutory standards, then, based
upon the above enthusiastic review at IGN.com, the answer to that
question would probably be “yes.”
That answer would put the Entertainment Software Rating Board,
in my opinion, in the middle of a criminal conspiracy to distribute
sexual material harmful to minors in violation of criminal statutes.
Sincerely, Jack Thompson
Media Network] – edited for length
IGN themselves accuse Thompson
of basing his criticism of Killer 7's rating solely on their review:
Thompson's campaign seems based solely on
the description of Killer 7 in the IGN.com review -- a description
that is open to interpretation. In fact, Killer 7's so-called "full-blown
sex sequences" could appear tame when compared to those in
some of today's movies. The sexual scenes in question showcase a
fully clothed wheelchair-bound man pleasuring a straddling woman,
who is also fully clothed. Although she moans, indicating a sexual
orgasm, neither nudity nor intercourse is illustrated in the cut-scene.
The same scene in a movie today might warrant only a PG-13 or, worst,
Thompson further defended his accusations against Killer 7 in an Email
conversation with Scott Ramsoomair, author of the webcomic VGCats
IGN – Review of Killer 7
– Conversation with Scott Ramsoomair