- Matteo Bittanti, who is from Italy, and therefore knows a thing or two about it, has written an excellent long-form discussion of the controversy surrounding Rule Of Rose's European release, as recently covered by Gamasutra and a number of other sites.

Bittanti starts by noting: "Crusades against videogame, especially in technophobic Italy, are as common as rain in November. However, this particular case is fascinating because it is the result of a series of media industry abuses, crass incompetence, and moral panics." Interestingly, this story made it all the way to the front page of The Times in the UK, though, a pretty well-respected paper.

He then sketches European distributor 505 Game Street's alleged attempts to find an 'angle' to sell the PS2 game (which has not, I suspect, sold that well for Atlus in the States) around Europe, noting its hiring of a firm called Media Hook, and explaining: "The philosophy of Media Hook, as described in the company's website, is to create "hooks", stories that media will find interesting." In fact, Bittanti suggests that a major Italian news story headlined "He who buries the little girl wins" may be in some way a bid for publicity partly arranged by the firm.

In any case, however it got into the press: "Panorama's cover story prompted the Italian government to launch a parliamentary discussion on videogames. On November 14 2006 - with unusual alacrity for Italian standards - the members of the Italian parliament gathered to discuss the creation of an independent committee that will evaluate the content of videogames. None of the politicians seemed aware of the existence of the PEGI initiative." For me, this is the key here - there are already pan-European game ratings standards, and the game is rated 18+ - so isn't this a tad witch-hunt-y, yet again?

[Now, you may remember Gamasutra ran a creator interview earlier this year which was, indeed, headlined 'Why Rule of Rose May Be 2006's Most Controversial Game'. But it wasn't the violence, rather the hints at underage sexual feelings that we thought were particularly likely to raise eyebrows. But maybe we're part of the media frenzy too, eh?]