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I think the sex here is laughable at best. I haven't seen any actual animation, but from the screen shots, they're all fully clothed.

The mod/unlocked argument aside (I side with Rockstar here, it's impossible to access without modding the code), if a parent is worried about their child having consentual sex in GTA, but is okay with them playing the game otherwise in its intended format, they have some serious issues.

I really just wanted to say though that you win the contest for best entry title. Ever.


Yeah, the animation is awful too. It's awkward, full-clothed sex that isn't even in the same ballpark as erotic. Or dangerous. It looks more like awkward middle-school dry humping than any form of risque sex act that anti-game groups are now making it out to be.

Hell. The fact that CJ keeps his clothes on convinces me that San Andreas can teach those vulnerable sponges of mimicable actions known as children a lesson or two about safe sex.

I tend to also side with Rockstar. But I'm not completely convinced that the less technically-oriented mainstream will understand the difference between a cheat code blocking out a feature and the developer programming a coded barrier to keep the feature from fuctioning. The public might see the two as too close for comfort.


Greg Costikyan has a much less charitable take on the situation. He basically reasons that it's entirely possible the sex game was intentionally left in, and Rockstar may have even gone as far as surreptitiously leaking info on how to unlock it. Costikyan argues that in addition to adding fuel to the anti-videogame fire, this is actually a breach of Rockstar's contract with the ESRB, as developers must disclose all pertinent material.

"There is no question that, had the ESRB known that this material existed on the disc--even without an in-game way to unlock it--they would have insisted on an AO rating."

The difference between M and AO in this case would be the actual depiction of sex (no matter how rudimentary). God of War didn't quite go that far.

Whether or not you agree with the rules that govern the rating system, you have to admit that undermining the ratings system isn't a particularly good way to engender goodwill in the general population. Of course, that's only if Costikyan's analysis is right, which he admits it might not be. In any case, it's an interesting perspective on the situation.


I do not agree with the whole movement towards burning Rockstar on the stake. They designed the game to be played without this content. Who knows what content is available in other games that tweaking some resource files with a hexeditor will get to come up. As long as this content can not be made available from the game design then the ESRB rating should only be based on that experience.

If a game is designed to be moddable then I think that the ESRB rating should include a tagline along the same lines of online games: "Game experience may change if game is modified."


I agree, raf. I like your disclaimer idea. However, I do think Rockstar is undermining the ESRB at a time when videogames really need that credibility (that's assuming that Rockstar knowingly included the sex games in the final code).

On the other hand, Damion Schubert at Zen of Design makes some good points about the absurdity of a crappy hidden sex game in GTA. Choice quote: "It seems to me that there was another huge game last year that allowed you to have sex, and in fact it was a fairly core gameplay component. Oh, yeah. This one [the Sims 2]. No modding required for sex, though a 30 second google search is required to depixellate the naughty bits. Even more curious, The Sims 2 gets a teen rating, whereas the critics crying wolf over the nude patch in GTA:SA want to move it from a Mature rating to an Adults Only. Clearly, the lesson here is: white suburbanite hot tub sex = good. Black gangsta sex in the hood = bad."

Mister Toups

I am inclined to think it's rockstar's responsibility. All of their previous GTA games on PC have been heavily modded and hacked in the past so there's no way they couldn't have predicted this happening.

At the end of the day, the fact of the matter is that Rockstar included pornographic content on the disc. It's irrelevant whether or not it was "immediately accessible" or "intended to be seen" -- the content was there, waiting for some industrious hacker to pull it out. If I manufacture a music CD with a photograph of hardcore pornography underneath the jewel case (in the space underneath the spindel that holds the CD, which can only be viewed by completely disassembling the entire case), I would still get in trouble, despite the fact the end user is never "intended" to completely disassemble the case.

It's not that different here. And there's no way Rockstar couldn't have predicted this. I think Costikyan is on the money, here.


If it were only the PC version, then it would be possible for it to be a mod. But if you can unlock it through a PS2 save file, then there's pretty much no way in hell the content *wasn't* on every disk when it shipped.

They should've know the PC version was going to be hacked. This would inevitably lead to other versions being hacked. Thus, either they were extremely negligent at Rockstar, extremely lazy, or planned this from the beginning to boost sales.

In any case, putting the thing in the PC version was irresponsible at best, a calculated ploy at worst.

They should face stiff sanctions, regardless.


The Sims 2 modding is a good point. I don't think the depiction of sex in The Sims 2 is worth of an M rating. Both "consenting adults" are clothed and the act is never explicitly shown.

I think that in some respect that Mister Toups is right. They knew it was in there going in. What I think is more astounding is that people are in uproar when the game already has an M rating. This is for gamers 17 years and older. At that age, you can get into a rated R movie alone and see real people do it. I have only seen screenshots and I am assuming the content is pretty much to the extent on what you could see in an R-rated movie or on skinamax.

Is there this much uproar for kids sneaking into R movies? I think the rating is fair as long as the activities depicted in hot coffee are not of a hardcore pornographic nature.

Game Rating Descriptor Guide vs What Ratings Mean (MPAA)
M seems to be a correlation with R.


It's not that Rockstar couldn't predict this kind of content.

It's that they couldn't stop it. Just like every other engine on the planet that has ever been modded to include pornographic material.

Which for the record, is an awful lot of them.

It's completely pointless to blame Rockstar simply because some of the content was theres ... for every mod some of the content belongs to the original development. So if I make a pron game with UT2k4, should you sue Epic?

This "scandal" has taken the debate about video games to new lows. It's purile sensationalism, and nothing more.

Mister Toups

Except that ALL of the content was there. All that was modified, according to the person who made the mod, was a single bit of data that blocked the content from being visible.

That's a little different than drawing nipples on Lara Croft.


Who cares if the content was there?

What's the difference between content only available via a code change and content added by a code change?

None. Same result in the end.

What's the outcome of having someone decode a flag to unlock naked breasts and retexturing a model with naked breasts?

That would be ... naked breasts.

So let's say it's Rockstar's content. Why is that so much more damning then just someone modding someone's engine? The actions to get there are the same. In fact, the Hot Coffee mod is FAR more esoteric and required much more technical prowess than 99% of the porn that has shown up in games throughout history. So why is Rockstar anymore responsible than Eidos or Tecmo or Valve or Epic or id or anyone else who had their game turned into smut? The answer is simple. They aren't.

If you mod someone's game and turn it into porn, you're the one who made the porn available.

But I'm in danger of repeating myself: http://cathodetan.blogspot.com/2005/07/counter-strike-porn.html

Basically everyone is acting like Rockstar left a working mini-game which was part of the retail game, just cleverly hidden. It wasn't cleverly hidden ... it was completely unavailable. It wasn't part of the game.

This is like crucifying someone for putting a dirty limerick into their source code. Code that by the user agreement you weren't supposed to be looking at anyway.

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