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Hot Coffee Cooling Off 559

Posted by Zonk
from the can-i-get-back-to-kirby-please dept.
The storm of media and cynicism that was "Hot Coffee" is, thankfully, coming to an end. To wrap things up, reactions were mixed to the re-rating of GTA. Some thought it too much, some too little too late. With the removal of the M rating, ESRB president Patricia Vance considers the matter closed. Even those in the industry itself seem glad that it's over, though the folks quoted for the 1up story seem cynical about the whole thing. "[Rockstar] TOTALLY screwed the modding community, as far as I am concerned. Because they could have just removed the content. They tried to get cute and leave it in. In my experience that sort of thing is always deliberate. Anyway, the point is that most game developers are recalcitrant and immature jerks. When mom tells us we can't do something, we're sure as hell going to do it. If you get my meaning. I think 'mom' in this case was the ESRB." As a sidenote, stock in Take-Two Entertainment dropped by almost five percent at close of market today, on the news that even Gamestop is dumping the now AO-rated GTA title.
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Hot Coffee Cooling Off

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  • Tshirt Already? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ack154 (591432) * on Friday July 22, 2005 @09:45AM (#13134597)
    And as a keepsake for all of the madness... be sure to pick up your very own Hot Coffee [thinkgeek.com] t-shirt from ThinkGeek!

    As soon as they're actually in stock, that is.
  • It's about time! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChibiLZ (697816) * <john@@@easygoldguide...com> on Friday July 22, 2005 @09:46AM (#13134598) Homepage Journal
    I for one am very glad that this whole debacle is over. I think it's somewhat ridiculous that people are angry at Rockstar. AFAIK, GTA:SA is rated M for violence and sexual content. Why must it be AO now? This certainly wasn't hardcore porno, it was not even as bad as what you see on cable late at night.

    And to think that GameStop is not going to sell the game anymore? Regardless, it's well out of the spotlight now, but the game they stop selling today is the game that they were hyping the hell out of for pre-orders 1 year ago. I don't care what the ESRB rating is, nothing has changed.

    I certainly don't think kids should buy this game, regardless of the sex, they shouldn't be exposed to that kind of violent content. However, it's now a pain in the ass for me if I want to buy a copy. It seems I can no longer go into my local videogame store and pick it up, I'll have to order it online and wait. I wonder if it will arrive in a plain brown envelope. Wouldn't want the neighbors or mailman to know I'm getting such perverted things in the mail.
    • Re:It's about time! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Araxen (561411)
      EB Games is still going to carry the game. They have only taken it off the self for about a week to make sure the boxes say AO on them. EB will make a killing now if they are the only brick and mortar place selling it.
      • Re:It's about time! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by HTH NE1 (675604)
        I find it interesting that Best Buy is pulling it from their shelves. The copy I purchased post-Hot Coffee, pre-rerating, and still shrinkwrapped has the price tag affixed atop the rating on the front of the package.

        Sure, the rating on the back is still there, but there will be those that buy it without looking at the back, and that those who won't check the back wouldn't have noticed it on the front either (i.e. you have to be looking for it to care to notice it).

        But it does seem a bit hypocritical to o
    • by timeOday (582209) on Friday July 22, 2005 @09:54AM (#13134672)
      I think it's somewhat ridiculous that people are angry at Rockstar. AFAIK, GTA:SA is rated M for violence and sexual content. Why must it be AO now?
      When you decieve somebody, their reaction when the truth comes out is greater than if you had told them the same thing upfront.

      What annoys people about this is that Rockstar decieved both the industry and the public about the content of the game. So long as this occurs, consumers can't know what they're buying. OK, so you don't mind. But the point is people should have the information up front to make their own choice.

      • by ipfwadm (12995) on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:03AM (#13134768) Homepage
        What annoys people about this is that Rockstar decieved both the industry and the public about the content of the game. So long as this occurs, consumers can't know what they're buying.

        No, Rockstar didn't deceive anyone. When you went out and bought the game, there was no possible way that you were going to get exposed to this "sex scene" without knowingly going out of your way to enable it. No possible way. Therefore, the sex scene was not part of the "content of the game", and therefore Rockstar did not deceive anyone about the content of the game.

        People's reaction to this is "greater than if you had told them the same thing upfront" because they don't understand what it's all about. They hear that there's a sex scene in the game and they pull out their pitchforks and torches. They probably think this is actually a scene you'd come across during normal gameplay, and therefore they do feel deceived.


        • People's reaction to this is "greater than if you had told them the same thing upfront" because they don't understand what it's all about. They hear that there's a sex scene in the game and they pull out their pitchforks and torches. They probably think this is actually a scene you'd come across during normal gameplay, and therefore they do feel deceived.

          Or, Rockstar disabled the content but left it there knowing that somebody was eventually going to find it - but not until after they'd been rated.

          • by ipfwadm (12995)
            Or, Rockstar disabled the content but left it there knowing that somebody was eventually going to find it - but not until after they'd been rated.

            Possibly... But my opinion then is "who cares?" If it's not part of the normal gameplay; if someone has to go out and look for a hack that will enable whatever it is they're looking for, then what's the big deal? No one is stumbling upon this. No one is being exposed to anything against their will.

            And at the same time, I'd be willing to bet that there are a

            • by rhsanborn (773855)
              I think people's gripe is that Rockstar did this to deliberately circumvent the rating system. I.E. they wanted people to find this little hack, maybe someone even said something in passing to someone else, who told his friend's brother's neighbor's dog to write a little script to unlock the content.

              My gripe is that Rockstar initially came out saying this was all lies and that Hot Coffee added content to the game. Why couldn't they just walk out and say, "Yeah, they found it."

              The lack of any and all cor
            • Re:It's about time! (Score:3, Interesting)

              by pnice (753704)
              I'd be willing to bet that there are a lot of games out there that have similarly-locked features.

              Like the one in Rings of Power for the Sega Genesis. To see a topless chick in the game hold down the DOWN, RIGHT, START, A, B, & C buttons on controller 2 and restart the Genesis. I remember reading this is a game mag back in the day and was able to find it searching on google.

              http://www.classicgaming.com/thedump/genesis/secr e ts.htm [classicgaming.com]
          • by PsiPsiStar (95676) on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:25AM (#13134970)
            You need to use a patch to see the scene.

            It would be easier to watch porn using my web browser than it would be using this game.

          • by Fred Ferrigno (122319) on Friday July 22, 2005 @11:43AM (#13135815)
            Or, Rockstar disabled the content but left it there knowing that somebody was eventually going to find it - but not until after they'd been rated.

            I view it as analogous to an easter egg on a DVD movie. Except for this easter egg, you have to know what you're looking for, use external hardware to get it, and spend several hours trying to find it. But other than that, an easter egg.

            All DVDs nowadays come with a notice saying "DVD extras and commentary unrated" -- only the movie, the main content, the stuff you really paid to see, is rated. If you have to hit a dozen buttons to access the secret menu of hidden sex scenes cut from the movie, you probably know what you're in for. Nobody is going to protect you from what you worked so hard to find.

            Now, if they would only add the video game version of "extras unrated", we'd be fine. People know (or should know) what GTA is when they buy it; is there really some uproar among consumers about this? You know, that game where you go around stealing cars, beating up hookers, and killing cops -- why, it has sex in it! It was fine for little Jimmy before, but not now! You must take it off the shelves and burn it!
        • Re:It's about time! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by krbvroc1 (725200) on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:32AM (#13135046)
          I completely agree with you. The hoopla is so rediculous. Its almost someone giving you a formula for isolating the printed words in the latest Harry Potter book to form a short porn story. Take the 6th word, followed by 12th word, followed by 24th word, etc.

          The content was not accessible without a mod. Furthermore, having seen the content, its not all that indecent especially for a 17 year old.

          I'm trying to undertand where all this save the children rhetoric is coming from and my conclusion is that it makes for an easy target. One tangential concern I've encountered is that rated M (17+) games are widely sold to minors. The statistics I say came from one Parents Television Council so they are probably misleading and distorted if their reporting on other the facts in the case are a barometer. They claim more than 70 percent of teenagers, 'according to a Gallop Poll', have played a Grand Theft Auto game. I can't find the poll results but there is a lot of ways to mislead with that statistic.

          Another 'statistic' from the groups behind the media frenzy:
          'According to research by the National Institute on Media and the Family, games rated M, which means they are appropriate only for people aged 17 or older, are relatively easy for teenagers and even children as young as age 7 to obtain. In the National Institute's recent study, 50 percent of boys between the ages of 7 and 14 successfully purchased M-rated video games, and an astonishing 87 percent of boys play M-rated games. Furthermore, nearly a quarter of retailers in the study don't even understand the ratings they are supposed to enforce, and only half of the stores train employees in the use of the ratings.'

          • by colinferm (262940) on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:46AM (#13135186) Homepage
            It's nice to hear a little bit of common sense.

            Where this is coming from is that this country is in the same place, culturally, as we were with comic books in the 50's. At the time, all the great crime and horror comics were being published by one house (EC) and politicians - and one doctor who's name escapes me - screamed about how terrible this was for kids and how the nation was going to be full of little murderers if something wasn't done. There were congressional hearings, banner headlines, all the same as we're seeing right now for video games.

            In response, the comics industry put together the "voluntary" Comics Code Of America which most DC and Marvel books carried into the mid-90's that included various draconian "guidelines" forbidding , for instance, a comic to show anything bad happening to a police officer.

            The sad fact was that most of these books were picked up at news stands by bank clerks, butchers, and other adults who wanted something entertaining to read on their way to work and not so much by children. What the comics code did was essentially dumb down comics to the point that adults stopped reading them through out the 50's, 60's, and early 70's and basically put EC out of business since news stands wouldn't carry comics that didn't have the Comics Code stamp on their covers.

            It's too bad to see that the same thing is happening today with video games. I mean, I read that the median - median, average - age of video gamers is 27. That said, if we can have movies - and thankfully, comic books again - for adults, why not video games also? The box says 17+, so is it Rockstar's fault if parents are buying nine year old little Johnny a game that includes violence and now sex? The common sense answer, as you've said, is no.

            Anyway, just some history to go with it.
          • Re:It's about time! (Score:3, Informative)

            by zoney_ie (740061)
            Hey, the problem does exist, and isn't even just one of selling to those underage for the title.

            Here in my city in Ireland, one of the major toy stores (which sells computer games) stocked GTA:SA. Well, they didn't sell to those underage - they didn't have to. The kids' parents were buying it for them.

            And it gets worse. The counter assistents were under orders to tell the parents just how graphic the game was (in language, violence, etc.) without pulling the punches. Well, the parents were taken aback and
          • "Its almost someone giving you a formula for isolating the printed words in the latest Harry Potter book to form a short porn story."

            Oh hell, it's WAY easier than that...
            Just change every instance of the word "wand" to "wang". One little letter makes the whole series perverse.

            There's post on bash.org about it, if i recall.... Yup.
            http://bash.org/?111338 [bash.org]
        • by renderhead (206057)

          They probably think this is actually a scene you'd come across during normal gameplay, and therefore they do feel deceived.

          Not necessarily. In the case of GTA:SA, the whole issue may seem to be splitting hairs. The entire game already revolves around violence and sex anyway, right? But the parent groups may be concerned with the precendent of the thing.

          Suppose a year from now, parents are mystified that their 13 year old sons want to own some game called "Happy Bunny and the Carnival Mystery" (Rated "E

          • You're talking about easy access to explicit content anyway. If a kid's going to go through all the trouble of finding, downloading, and implementing an easter egg patch or a mod, why wouldn't he just surf over to the BangBus for some XXX action and skip all the hard work?
          • by thesandtiger (819476) on Friday July 22, 2005 @01:17PM (#13136779)
            Any game that is moddable can be modified in this way then, and therefore all game companies need to make it impossible for users to create and then distribute "disturbing" (whatever your definition of it is) content with the game - if we follow your logic. Which I don't, but I understand the attraction of it.

            Rockstar made a mini-game and then didn't remove all of it from their game, but they didn't make it accessable by "normal" play (or ANY play), either. It requires a modification of the software, not just some code that needs to be entered at a pause point. ANY game that is moddable can be modified into providing content that people will be up in arms to.

            Oh noes, someone made a mod that turns the monsters in Doom 3 into children, and all the weapons into sex toys! Clearly, Doom 3 needs to be made Adults Only!

            Oh noes, someone made some skins for The Sims that make them nude, and Little Jimmy has now got a house full of naked polyamorous lesbians running around! Clearly, The Sims needs to be made Adults Only!

            Oh noes, someone made skins for Morrowind that makes every NPC in the game into an extremely well-hung and otherwise well-endowed transsexual centaur! Clearly, Morrowind needs to be made Adults Only!

            Oh noes, someone made a mod of Barbie's Baking Challenge that converts the pies she bakes into Jewish Children, and the Betty Crocker Cooking Campus into Auschwitz! Clearly, Barbie's Baking Challenge needs to be made - what, it's only monstrous violence and not sex? - well, Mature then.
    • What I find the funniest about this is that to access the scenes, you need to go online and download a mod. And we all know the internet is entirely cotton candy and butterflies. If a kid has internet access and can get this mod, he sure as hell can access much worse than an animated blowjob with a simple google search.
    • I agree, and will try and take it further.

      Isn't this game a bit past its prime already as a retail commodity?

      Like all things retail, the youngest consumer tends to the be the impulse buyer, which in this case means that the audience most affected by this ratings change would have purchased their game already.

      <conspiracy theory> It could be interesting to see if there's a spike in the sales pattern after this *free publicity* scandal involving the ESRB and Rockstar. If the target audience in general
    • Re:It's about time! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GPLDAN (732269)
      This is about Hillary Clinton. Like her or hate her, I am not taking sides in that one. But this is part of her campaign to move to the center. She needs to take on issues of morality, of "saving the children", of making sure she's tough on smut. I'm not sure why, exactly, it may have to do with the fact that the GOP released a smear book about her insinuating she is, and always has been, a lesbian.

      Either way, it's a calculated ploy, a checkmark on an agenda designed to set up her run in 2008. She has lo
  • I hate America (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mr.Dippy (613292) on Friday July 22, 2005 @09:46AM (#13134603)
    Let's see the game is about black men running around smacking hoes and doing drive bys and most people don't have a problem with this. But, once you add some sex into the game there are congressional hearings. Stupid America, when will you ever learn?!
    • Re:I hate America (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ced_Ex (789138) on Friday July 22, 2005 @09:49AM (#13134624)
      I wouldn't say America, more like those stuck up Holier-Than-Thou retards at the ratings board.

      I can't see how sex is more evil than violence. Think of the utopia they want to have. A world with violence and no sex. Wait... wouldn't that be the fuckin apocalypse?
      • I have a feeling it's more like "those craven tools at the ratings board who will bend over and scream `harder!' before any politician who is trying to boost his sagging popularity ratings among the drooling mouth-breathers that form his electorate".

        I'm moving to neptune.
      • by Builder (103701) on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:18AM (#13134902)
        A world with violence and no sex. Wait... wouldn't that be the fuckin apocalypse?

        Uhm, no it wouldn't. The fucking apocalypse will have sex. I think you're thinking of the regular apocalypse.
      • Re:I hate America (Score:4, Informative)

        by DLWormwood (154934) <wormwood&me,com> on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:43AM (#13135157) Homepage
        I can't see how sex is more evil than violence. Think of the utopia they want to have... apocalypse?

        The Biblical Book Of Revelations (aka "Apocalypse" in ancient languages) was written to describe the "end times" that Christians believe will happen that will finally wipe the Earth clean of evil. It is a very violent book, filled with surreal images of carnage and suffering, but very little sexual content. (It's almost the polar opposite of Song Of Solomon in that regard.) Christian culture (which the U.S. is heavily influenced by) has always regarded violence as a path of virture and sex as a path to damnation. (The whole "thou shalt not kill" business was a mistranslation of the original Hebrew; it refers to murder, not military warfare.)

        Given that many of the more Evangelical types of Christian are now political savvy and powerful in post-Cold War American, it's little wonder that our culture is starting to "self-fulfill" the prophesies in the book. America's constant strife with Middle Eastern countries (and backing of Isreal) is inline with the "Battle Of Megido" depicted in that book. Most of the Fundamentalists in this country are expecting the "Rapture" to happen in their lifetime. I know; I used to be one growing up...

        • Re:I hate America (Score:3, Insightful)

          by chphilli (885315)
          I think you have a severe misunderstanding of the role of sex in the Christian life. Go pick up a copy of C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity (most bookstores will have it), and read it. That should clear up a lot of the misunderstanding you seem to have about the issue.
        • Re:I hate America (Score:3, Informative)

          by John Harrison (223649)
          The Biblical Book Of Revelations

          This is a nit that I must pick. The name of the book is singular, not plural.

      • Re:I hate America (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DroopyStonx (683090)
        No, it's America.

        That's why you can see someone with a bullet through their skull on prime time TV and the very reason why seeing a nipple during half-time is fucking blasphemy.

        Flat out, majority of people in this country are stupid fucking sheep that don't bother thinking or questioning their surroundings.

        Seriously, I'd love to have ONE person tell me why it's okay to see people getting shot all over TV, but you can't see two people fucking.

        Fucking sheep. Fucking America. This country disgusts me.
    • But, once you add some sex into the game there are congressional hearings. Stupid America, when will you ever learn?!

      I was having this discussion last night... America obviously didn't learn when we ended legal rascism during the 1960s because we are now trying to legally stop insurance coverage for homosexual couples.

      Not only didn't the government learn but the American public didn't either.

      It's really sad.
  • by BlackCobra43 (596714) on Friday July 22, 2005 @09:46AM (#13134605)
    GTA: SA was the best-selling console game of 2004, despite only being published on one platform at the time. Are we seriously expected to believe major retailers will forever keep the evil, evil GTA games off their shelves? Why should Rockstar Games/Take Two?
    • by blueZhift (652272) on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:03AM (#13134765) Homepage Journal
      In the short term, this whole deal seems to have backfired on Rockstar and they'll have to spend some money recalling shipped stock and then manufacturing and shipping the "clean" version. LOL, now mom and dad can safely buy GTA for junior and his 5th grade buddies! They should pick up the clean copies of 50cent's new album while they're at it.

      Seriously though, Rockstar can still turn this into a New Coke style winner. Now they've essentially been given the green light to sell two versions of GTA: SA. They can sell the safe clean version at Wal-Mart and the uncut, girls gone wild, hentai version online. See now, they can just unlock the Hot Coffee minigames and add more if they want. With the AO label, they can totally cut loose and with all of the free publicity the market is already primed. It's almost as if they get to do the launch all over again. The only ones who could stop them from doing this might be Sony and Microsoft on the consoles since they have to be licensed to publish on those platforms. On the PC though, anything goes. Played right, R* may have opened the door a bit for AO versions of popular games to start appearing on consoles. As for the ESRB and modders everywhere, I think they've just been played...
    • You have it completely backwards. If the game originally got rated AO, it would not have been the best-selling console game of 2004. Most major stores don't carry AO games (Walmart, Amazon, etc).

      The argument is not over the content at all. It is about the deliberate bypass of the rating system. I am one of the many people that don't see a pair of boobies as the end of world, especially in a game about car-jackings. Rockstar profited by allowing their game in more stores. The fact that this content
  • Even Gamestop? (Score:3, Informative)

    by sqlrob (173498) on Friday July 22, 2005 @09:47AM (#13134613)
    I tried to get it there the day the rating changed. Nope, no way, not on any of the platforms, they don't sell AO.

    And they still had the "San Andreas: Get It Here!" display up too.

    So they were one of the *first* to can it, no "even GameStop" about it, they were the leaders of the pack.
  • more popular now... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Teenagers want this game more than ever now. The stock price may drop but take a look at their sales results when they come out...
  • by bedroll (806612) on Friday July 22, 2005 @09:50AM (#13134635) Journal
    I mean, the people who hated this game from before it was released were the same ones who made a stink of it this time. It was just a new angle to come at it. The realists say that the game was already rated M, which should've been good enough. The extremists think it should pulled from all shelves, AO isn't good enough.

    I'm just waiting for the lawsuits. I'm sure that some offended conservative group is trying to find distress Moms who's little babies downloaded the patch to modify the game and were sullied. Poor little Johnny.

  • by Phu5ion (838043) on Friday July 22, 2005 @09:51AM (#13134644)
    am going out to purchase this too-hot-for-Gamespot game. Then i'm going to make little kids play it. Call me The Pusher Man.
  • Gamespy says Rockstar is also going to be making a new M rated version with the "evil" content content removed.

    Source [gamespy.com] It's at the bottom of the article. Most of the meat of it is stuff that's been beaten to death over and over again.
  • So.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Friday July 22, 2005 @09:52AM (#13134657) Journal
    So they add a new label and it's done with. It's the same game it was last week, the same game it was last month and the same game it'll be tomorrow.

    GTA:SA will sell no matter the age rating, anyone who wanted it already had it or knows where to get it. It's like closing the stable door once the horse has bolted.

    The "it's for the children" groups will see this as a victory. The game industry will shrug and go "oh well" and the gamers will go "STFU and get over it, it's a game".

    That's how life works. Give it a month and they'll find another way to attack GTA, do very little (oh they changed a letter and added another to the rating GASP! Think of the ink it'll use!), rinse and repeat.

    Maybe we should start pointing out how GTA:SA is infact a POSITIVE story about a guy trying to get out the ghetto and deal with corrupt officials with too much power.
    • Re:So.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dhalka226 (559740)

      GTA:SA will sell no matter the age rating

      I think it's true that changing from M to AO wouldn't deter most people from buying it.

      It DOES, however, deter many stores from selling it. Target, Best Buy and Wal-Mart have already pulled it from their shelves. I know Wal-Mart refuses to stock ANY AO-rated game, I'm not sure if the others do as well or if they were just reacting to this present controversy.

      So, it might increase (or hold steady the) DEMAND, but it will also make it harder to find. Since

  • by Adult film producer (866485) <van@i2pmail.org> on Friday July 22, 2005 @09:52AM (#13134658)
    I can still kill cops and pummel innocent bystanders with a club, smashing their brains in till blood oozes all over the sidewalk. Good family fun.
  • "Anyway, the point is that most game developers are recalcitrant and immature jerks."

    This was clearly the developers fault the whole way through.

    Yeah, screw you pal.
  • Publicity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MarkByers (770551) on Friday July 22, 2005 @09:53AM (#13134667) Homepage Journal
    Despite all the bad publicity about this game, I can only imagine that it will have a positive effect on sales, as loads of people that otherwise would never have bought this game are now interested in it, purely because of the amount of hype surrounding it.
  • What rating would the game get if it included necrophilia? Obviously, game characters having sex with live characters is out, even though pulverizing them with a baseball bat is OK.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 22, 2005 @09:59AM (#13134726)

    This just in. "Real Life" has been re-rated AO by ESRB because it features the same violent and sexual content as GTA:SA.

    Quote the leader: "We first noticed this when we found out there are a lot of people being invited for 'hot coffee' everywhere! This has to stop! We had no idea sex is available to everyone"

    From now on, life is rated AO which means anybody under the magical age of 18 is no longer allowed to have a life.

  • The Sims (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There were hundreds of adult themed addons for the sims and the content of many of them was a lot more explicit than the Hot Coffee mod. It's ESRB Rating is T (Teen) and it is specifically designed for people to produce whatever addons they want. Considering The Sims franchise is just as famous, if not more than GTA, how come nobody cares?
  • According to their own criteria, the game should have been AO from the beginning. http://www.esrb.org/esrbratings_guide.asp [esrb.org] "Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity." The whole game is a scene of intense violence.
  • by kortex (590172)
    This is just another example of a really messed up society. Through the years, things that are considered 'bad for kids' has constantly evolved and changed. There was a time that saying 'damn' on TV was completely taboo. Today I routinely hear much worse on broadcast (let's not even talk about cable!). Every generation has had it's gripes about what the kids during that time were watching, doing, playing and saying.

    Unfortunately, there has yet to be a generation where the parents take reponsibility for edu
  • by Captain Sarcastic (109765) on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:06AM (#13134793)
    The big problem wasn't that there was sex involved in GTA:SA. So you have ways of moving the pixels so that it looks like some guy is banging the hell out of some girl. Big deal.

    The major problem was with the timeline:

    1. Rockstar tells the MSRB, "Yeah, OK, we have some adult-themed material in this game, but that's why we figure an M-rating to be about right, because there's nothing explicit in the game."
    2. Hot Coffee comes out, showing the sex, and Rockstar says "Those @#$%ing modders! They must have inserted that porn!"
    3. Rockstar comes out and says, "Well, OK, the modders didn't insert the porn - it was already in there, but no fair drawing adverse inferences!"

    It wasn't so much the sex, but the lies that got people up in arms about Rockstar. (No videotape this time, at least) We don't like being made to look like fools, and so the ESRB lowered the boom on GTA:SA.

    I, on the other hand, am willing to throw brickbats all of the involved parties:

    • Rockstar for lying about what content it did provide and for trying to blame the modders who exposed (pardon the expression) the hidden stuff;
    • The ESRB for having such a skewed viewpoint about the difference between "M" and "AO"
    • Above all, the parents who bought the game for Little Johnny and Janey who ignored the "M" rating and the criminal and violent subtext of the game, but were shocked, shocked! when sex reared its head.

    A plague, not on one, not on both, but on all your houses!

    • If you really, really want to carry that gag to the end, there actually is videotape involved.

      When games are entered for rating to the ESRB, to speed the process up the developer has to summarise what the main points that could cause its rating to go up are, and supply video of them occurring. If the ESRB had to play through all 60+ hours of every RPG it rates just to make a decision, they'd never get through all the games they have to certify.

      The whole operation relies on trusting that the developer has
  • by AdamD1 (221690) <adam@brainrub . c om> on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:09AM (#13134814) Homepage
    What baffles me the most is that M (for mature) is rated as being for customers "17 and older", while AO is for customers "18 and older." That's not a huge difference. One year. What does a 17 year old not know that an 18 year old is suddenly an expert at these days? Especially since I regularly get my ass handed to me by 16 years olds (or younger) on many online games, I fail to see how a rating system would make any sort of difference to a game like this. If I'm 16, I'll probably find the means to get this game one way or the other.

    Also: there isn't any nudity in this game (not even, specifically, in the hot coffee segment where one would expect it.) It's quite obviously cartoonishly presented. I can understand the uproar over Manhunt, which is by comparison very detailed and brutally violent. But this is to my mind one of the most ridiculous "debacles" I've ever heard of. Anyone who assumes that a game named "Grand Theft Auto" is for teenagers is living in a fantasy world. Why it takes a sticker saying "AO" versus "M" to drive this home is beyond me. Does this mean I can make a game called "Assassinate The President" or "Serial Rapist" and expect the rating to determine whether Walmart will carry it or not?

    And where are the freakin' parents? Out carjacking?

    ad
    • What concerns me about this is fantasy and how it relates to entertainment. I think we have violent entertainment becuase it not only satisfies a natural urge in some of us to be violent, but also societal tendencies to solve problems with violence. Likewise, the sexual is minimized because of our societal tendency not to, as a whole, be loving and caring people. Therefore, and this is really scary, the sexual is often presented in a negative or violent way, which may in fact be my only concern with this
  • by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:12AM (#13134840) Homepage
    1. Anyone who previously thought that the ESRB was a good idea and defended it on the basis that if the industry self-regulated it would provide a bulwhark against censorship from outside has just been proven wrong.

      The ESRB has been demonstrated a tool for censorship from outside, as demonstrated by the fact that a game has just been effectively banned from sale in the U.S., by way of it being moved from M to AO, based on nothing but a targeted public smear campaign. The content even in the modded "AO" version of GTA:SA is significantly tamer than the sexual content that which is already present in a very large number of M games.
    2. Anyone within the Hillary Clinton / etc "blame video games" camp who previously claimed that they just cared about protecting "the children" has just been shown to be lying.

      This has been demonstrated by their extended attack on a game that was already "mature, 17 or older only, not to be sold to minors" with a "strong sexual content" label, an attack which apparently only ended with the effective banning of the game. Apparently these people don't care about children, they just care about either political self-promotion or imposing their morality on others, and children are just a tool to achieve this.
  • ...that in the other games, back to GTAIII, you could ALWAYS have sex with a prostitute. You can pull the vehicle up and wait. The hooker walks up, talk to you a while, and then get in. After that you have to go find a place to "rock the vehicle", AND you get more life, so it's encouraged. How is this any different? I mean, nobody raised a stink about it at least.
  • by Fr05t (69968) on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:14AM (#13134865)
    Hell if I'm going to buy an AO game I better be getting what is promised on the box!

    Next weeks headline : "Geek sues Rockstar for false claims of explicit sex in GTA".

    Quote from the article "Steve purchased GTA:SA hoping to get a glimpse of naked women engaged in sexual acts, but instead found himself searching Rockstar's website for a 'patch'. Turns out Rockstar didn't live up to their promise of hot sex and coffee - the only way to get to that content is from a program made by some Swedish guy who doesn't even work for the game developer."
  • The news stories may be cooling off, but the eBay madness [ebay.com] has just started to brew.

    I can't believe people are considering this game "rare" even though literally millions of copies were printed. Oh well.
  • Double edged sword (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Iriel (810009) on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:16AM (#13134888) Homepage
    Glad it over. There, I said it too.

    On one hand, I agree that this game was already intended for an audience far older than the children that lawmakers and soccer moms are trying to protect. However, with no forms of penalty to enforce the ratings on these games, nobody can expect them to follow. They're only mild suggestions without any kind of fine for selling to/buying for children under the age recommended by rating.

    However, R* is also quite guilty of deliberatly hiding an easter egg in the game that (in America, anyway) dramatically changes some peoples' view on it. In a country where sex is almost strictly taboo, it was purposely sneaky of R* to put the Hot Coffee material into the game because we, as gamers and geeks, have already proven many years ago that if it can be cracked, it will. They can't just unhook the content and expect it to be done, and that's not what they did. R* left it in there for the people curious enough to find a way to get Hot Coffee.

    I hope both of these parties can learn something from this. Ratings aren't effective without being enforced and unhooked content can and will always be found, cracked, and distributed on the internet within an hour.
    • It is unreasonable to expect of a scottish development team that they realize exactly how perverted US morality is. I doubt anyone there even raised an eyebrow at the content and dropped it mostly because it wasn't a particularly good minigame.
  • I am an adult (legally if not emotionally). I hear about this new mod for a game I had wanted to get. People freak out about the mod because it introduces SEX into the game. I'm more interested in the game now. I don't have 50 bucks at the moment. Bang! Game gets pulled off shelves faster than an altar-boy's robe. Now, after payday, I have 50 bucks. But I, as an adult, am no longer able to purchase said game with said offending content (which I should be legally able to do) at the local Target or Be
  • by bmasel (129946) <bmaselNO@SPAMtds.net> on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:26AM (#13134982) Journal
    You drive around picking up voting machines in Black precincts, and collecting rare coins...

    The hidden content allows you to tweak other players scores.
  • by fahrvergnugen (228539) <fahrv.hotmail@com> on Friday July 22, 2005 @11:02AM (#13135340) Homepage

    Fact: The developers at Rockstar thought that it might be fun to include a sex mini-game. Fact: This mini-game was built, but ultimately scrapped. Maybe this was because it pushed the game over the line with the ESRB, or maybe it's because the mini-game is not really funny and not very fun. Fact: There is no sex mini-game included in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as shipped.

    I repeat: There is no sex mini-game included in Grant Theft Auto: San Andreas as shipped. I've played the entire game, end to end, and while it does let me beat people down with a giant black dildo if I feel so inclined, the sex mini-game is just not in there.

    That is not to say that the code for the sex mini-game is not on the DVD, but it is not in the game. This is an important distinction. If the mini-game is present on the DVD, but there is no way to access it while playing the game as shipped, then that sequence isn't really part of the game, any more than a deleted scene on a DVD is part of the movie.

    It is common practice in software projects to strip out features as the release date approaches. Maybe the feature just doesn't work right, or it does work right but isn't really as good as everyone thought it would be, or maybe it introduces bugs, or maybe it pisses off media decency watchdogs. For whatever reason, features are disabled. This is usually done not by deleting the feature from the project entirely, but rather by deleting the calls that activate it. Deleting large chunks of code carries a huge risk in the later stages of software development, because it's easy to make a mistake that will break the build. If someone makes a mistake and deletes the wrong class file when they're taking out un-used code for something like, say, a sex mini-game that management has decided not to include in the final product, they could all too easily cause just such a problem.

    Breaking the build is a Very Bad Thing, especially in gigantic projects like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which cost $50 million to develop and employed hundreds of people. At the end of the software development cycle, new builds of the program are made every night. These are copied and sent out to teams of testers, sometimes hundreds of them, who run through the program and look for bugs. These bugs get fixed, a new build is made that night incorporating those bugfixes, and the cycle continues.

    If the build is broken, nobody works. If the testers don't get a new build, then they can't find new bugs, because they're still running into the old ones. If the developers don't get a new build, they can't fix other bugs, because they don't know how their changes will interact with changes they've already made. Everyone winds up sitting idle, getting some sleep, talking to their significant others, and maybe realizing that working 20 hours a day for 7 days a week at substandard wages sucks. Maybe they begin to question their sexless and empty lives, and maybe they start chatting with each other about how a union would fix all this mess before their jobs are shipped off to China, and it's too late to do anything about it.

    Morale suffers, the whole project slips, deadlines are missed, analysts revise your publisher's stock downwards, and you suddenly need a new job.

    So instead of making a major change like deleting the entire mini-game, it's much safer to make a small change, like deleting the parts of code that start the mini-game. If there is no way to invoke certain parts of a program, then those parts may as well not exist. This is so common in software projects, both for business and entertainment programs, that the current controversy surrounding Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas seems from the perspective of the software world like a tempest in a teapot. Grand Theft Auto III had code for a half-completed fourth island on the DVD. Knights of the Old Republic II, which is notorious for its terrible and seemingly unfinished ending, had the voice acting and artwork for

    • Mod parent up (Score:3, Insightful)

      by IsoRashi (556454)
      Finally, someone with their head on straight. Mod parent up!
    • Another perfect example to prove this case is that there are pieces left from a skateboard that was going to be included. The icon can still be found for it, but they pulled the skateboard as a vehicle. (Read more about it here: http://www.gtasanandreas.net/weapons/ [gtasanandreas.net]) And there is even a mod to allow you to switch the shovel with the skateboard, but you still can't ride it. They didn't remove all of it because it may have caused problems to the build. They removed just enough so that you wouldn't notic
    • Your reaction matched my initial one. I've since come to realize I was wrong. Parents who are hoping the ESRB rating process can help them select titles for their children don't care one bit about the realities of the development process. The clarification developers are getting here is that if a title is shipped with a certain rating, all of the content on the media should meet that rating, whether it shows up in the official game or not. As you point out, this will increase the cost of doing business

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