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Hot Coffee Cooling Off 559

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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  • more popular now... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 22, 2005 @09:48AM (#13134617)
    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.

  • Re:It's about time! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Araxen ( 561411 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @09:50AM (#13134638)
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • by RamboIII ( 899894 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:13AM (#13134860)
    ...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 ipfwadm ( 12995 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:15AM (#13134873) Homepage
    My favorite thing to do in GTAIII was sit up in the parking garage (that way the helicopters couldn't get you) and shoot people in the head with the sniper rifle. My roommate enjoyed doing that so much I eyed him suspiciously him when the DC sniper stuff started.
  • by iainl ( 136759 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:22AM (#13134950)
    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 done what they say they've done, which is why the ESRB felt they had to punish Rockstar in the only way available to them - as a purely advisory board, fines and bans aren't really possible.
  • by Ariannus ( 631064 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:31AM (#13135038)
    This has been bugging me ever since the story first came out, and while I am sure other people have said it before, I think it needs to be said again. First of all it is an M rated game, anybody not old enough to see the scenes shouldn't be playing the game. Secondly, the scenes were cut from the game, they weren't intended as an easter egg to unlock in the game. The scenes were disabled and it took a hack to make them available. As to why the code was left in, there are a few simple explanations: 1. The programmer was lazy and it was quicker / easier to disable the scenes that to remove the code. (It may have even been originally written to be easily disabled in case it was cut.) 2. Deleting the code caused some random bug that was too difficult to fix. 3. The decision to cut the scenes was made shortly before the game went into production and they wanted to make as few changes to the code as possible. This whole thing has been blown ridicously out of proportion. The bottom line is that parents need to read the rating and the game description on the box. If they still are not sure then they need to go to Google and search for (NAME_OF_GAME review). There is also the possibility that oh I don't know they could be a responsible parent and just tell the kid "No you are too young to play this game. Maybe you can get it when you are older."
  • 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.'

  • Re:Tshirt Already? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BaudKarma ( 868193 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:37AM (#13135102) Journal
    I'd just like to state that I find it highly suspicious that the first post in this thread is an ad for a Thinkgeek product. And that it's modded up to +5.
  • by oudzeeman ( 684485 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:39AM (#13135115)
    Women in Maine have top-free equity (legally they can be top-free anywhere a man can - beach, park, city pool, etc). It isn't very common though. Also a judge dropped indecent exposure charges on two college women that ran around a block naked one night -- the judge ruled that Maine law required exposing genitals and female genitals are not externally visible. They talked about changing the law, but I don't know if they ever did.

    I was just in montreal and I was fairly surprised how strict the rules were in the strip clubs (although the contact dance rules are more liberal that a lot of clubs in the States, there are also quite a few clubs in the States that blow away the montreal clubs in terms how much contact is allowed)

    what I didn't understant is bars/strip clubs said we weren't allowed to buy shots unless we were drinking beer

  • Re:Tshirt Already? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by themishkin ( 898361 ) <> on Friday July 22, 2005 @10:48AM (#13135202)
    Hahaha, check out Maddox's article on this whole thing! Always hilarious... cket_to_hell []
  • Re:It's about time! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @11:12AM (#13135464)
    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 object to selling AO-rated games but will hide the M-rated games' rating with their price tag.

    I oppose the rerating, but I also wish they'd kept it on the shelves relabeled as AO so that it would be there to encourage parents to pay attention to the ESRB ratings! Then maybe they'll take the responsibility for exposing their pre-17-year-olds to the M-games content and only be able to be upset about their 17-year-olds being exposed to Hot Coffee.
  • Re:It's about time! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DrLang21 ( 900992 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @11:20AM (#13135567)
    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" for Everyone). but how can they object? All of the game's content has been reviewed and approved by the ERSB and multiple gaming publications as being suitable for kids.

    Then it turns out that a code, widely available on the web but largely unknown outside of gaming circles, unlocks the "freak show" mode, granting access to rooms full of violent and pornographic images. Some developer put it in as a joke, with the rationale that none of the kids will ever see it because it requires them to 'knowingly go out of their way to enable it.'

    Simple. I just wouldn't let my kid get anymore games from that company. I would feel deceived. I would also feel that in no way should legal action be taken. And then I would probly go play with the freak show for my own entertainment.
  • Re:I hate America (Score:3, Interesting)

    by krbvroc1 ( 725200 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @11:31AM (#13135676)
    I disagree with your main premise and I think it highlights some of the issues.

    First, Sex != Love. There is a lot more to a loving relationship that you don't get just from sex.

    Parents, particulary conservative ones, seems to want to live in a world of ideology versus the real world--ignorance it bliss. Out of sight, out of mind, etc. These are all issue that need to be addressed, discussed, and countered. If it is mainstream then they need to be able to cope with it. Its an opportunity to teach that because its mainstream doesn't make it right and individuality is important in developing their values.

    As far as your comment that 'Kids know that violence is just wrong and should always be avoided' is wrong on so many levels. First, our culture celebrates violence. To use your words-'its mainstream'. Second, our schools where many children learn their social skills do not have a zero tolerence policy on 'fighting' - its written off as 'boys will be boys'. Third, if you believe we lead by example, we have been at war killing people for the past few years, its mainstream. Kids see that on the news and its 'normal' and 'accepted'.

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

    by DroopyStonx ( 683090 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @11:40AM (#13135762)
    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.
  • Re:It's about time! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kyosuke77 ( 783293 ) <ky.weichel@ u s a s k .ca> on Friday July 22, 2005 @12:17PM (#13136189)
    I remember in Giants: Citizen Kabuto, the game could be hacked to make one of the characters, Delphi, topless. She was apparently topless in the original release but they put a bikini top on her for the North American version. Quaintly, the file you deleted to make the change was named 'arpfix' (American Rating Panel?).
  • Re:It's about time! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pnice ( 753704 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @12:21PM (#13136213)
    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. ts.htm []
  • Re:I hate America (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Phyvo ( 876321 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @12:42PM (#13136413)
    I am a Christian. Doubtless, there are some Christians that you are right in this respect about. But I am not one of them.

    The Christian point of view is that sex is great when you do it the way God designed you to: at the very least, monogamously. Doing it otherwise is like trying to eat vegetables with only your two upper front teeth. It's just not the way you were designed to eat.

    The New Testament condemns any sort of violence, such as revenge, or even being really angry with your brother for spilling coke on your PS2. I admit, I don't have a very good short answer for what goes on in the Old Testament. I'm still looking into that. In any case, even it doesn't support randomly killing people like in GTA.

    Note, I am not defending church history, or "Christian" culture. I am only defending the Christian the Bible tells us to be.
  • by greg1104 ( 461138 ) <> on Friday July 22, 2005 @02:08PM (#13137245) Homepage
    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 for companies shiping products with ESRB labels on them, but everyone on the rating side of things considers that the developer's problem. We should actually be glad that this is the title involved in setting this precedent, because the outrage here is muted by the fact that it's hard to find a parent who approved of the official GTA:SA who is then going to care about the additional dirt of Hot Coffee.

    I see someone else has already posted a great example of the kind of easter egg that could really cause trouble; don't miss the story of unlocking Freak Show mode in "Happy Bunny and the Carnival Mystery" at id=13135433 []
  • Re:It's about time! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GPLDAN ( 732269 ) on Friday July 22, 2005 @03:13PM (#13138046)
    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 looked at the numbers, and studied very carefully why Kerry lost, and is not going to make those mistakes. As a woman, she dares not divorce Bill, that was a decision made long ago, even though she loathes him. She needs to prepare her armor against the religious right who will tell her that she is not family values based, not somebody "right" for America. A female presidential candiate has a whole suite of attacks open that don't exist for men. Next up will probably something on terrorism or foreign policy based. Being from New York that makes sense, although she can't touch the insane distrubution of homeland security money, she needs to win states like Colorado and Wyoming, who get "throw away" money.

It's fabulous! We haven't seen anything like it in the last half an hour! -- Macy's