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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

How Rockstar Screwed Us and Why Jack Thompson is Right

How Rockstar Screwed Us and Why Jack Thompson is Right

"With tag-teaming NY Senators leading the way, politicians all over the country are jumping on the “video games are ruining society” bandwagon. Given this current frenzy, you would have thought Rockstar would have handled the Grand Theft Auto Hot Coffee controversy with the utmost care.

Instead, Rockstar sold out their colleagues and their customers, leaving the entire gaming industry and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) looking like a bunch of high school slackers who got caught smoking in the bathroom.

When Hot Coffee first made headlines, the industry was still feeling heat from Senator Schumer (D-NY) about the upcoming Ubisoft title, 25 to Life. Perhaps this was why Rockstar, GTA's publisher, felt it was necessary to feed the media a statement in which they claimed to be the innocent victims of elite hackers:

"So far we have learned that the 'Hot Coffee' modification is the work of a determined group of hackers who have gone to significant trouble to alter scenes in the official version of the game. In violation of the software user agreement, hackers created the 'Hot Coffee' modification by disassembling and then combining, recompiling and altering the game's source code"

Today we know that this statement is at best highly misleading and at worst a flat-out lie. The Hot Coffee sex mini-games are not really a modification at all since all the content necessary is already present on the PC, Xbox, and PS2 game discs. The mini-games just need to be “unlocked”, either with a downloadable PC file or a readily available video game cheat device. Most likely, these sex mini-games were planned to be part of the finished product, were never completed, and were left on the disc as is. But perhaps the mini-games were hidden on purpose, knowing that the modding community would eventually stumble upon them. This could help push sales of the game while avoiding the ESRB’s dreaded “Adults Only” rating, which, at the very least, would prohibit the game from being sold at Wal-Mart, the industry’s biggest mover of product." [more]

Man this GTA story really grew some legs. I feel it's relevant to the Next Gen consoles just becasue the ESRB has operated pretty much the same way since it's inception. Now it appears that might all change. Hopefully this doesn't ruin it for everyone.

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