Friday, July 29, 2005

GTA hoolpa - mods maligned again

the wave of negative press for modding reached an all-time high with the recent Grand Theft Auto (GTA) "Hot Coffee" controversy.

for those you haven't heard this story... the developers of GTA San Andreas created an explicit sexual game and put it on the retail DVD. this content is available in all three versions of the game: PC, PS2 and Xbox. the controversy erupted when a hacker discovered the material and released a patch that makes it available to gamers. since the hidden scenes are porn-level explicit, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) has changed the game's Mature rating (with a warning for 'Strong Sexual Content') to Adult.

the problem with this situation is that the people who discovered the content have been taking more heat that the guys who developed it, hid it, and then shipped it to millions of people. since it was the PC version of the game that first revealed the erotic game, the hack that allowed the content to be viewed is on par with hacks to any other software package - the fact that this hack was then adapted as a mod for game consoles is not relevant. imagine if someone found a Windows hack that unlocked sexually explicit content. who would take the blame?

this is a quote from a article: "The industry-supported Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) took almost as much heat over the sex-infused mod for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as the game's publisher. "

this sort of inaccurate language is misleading and harmful. although the publisher would like to blame the modders, they are clearly not to blame for this controversy. news stories should clearly identify the culprits and not contribute to a negative connotation of the modding community.

if you feel that modding is somehow evil, I strongly suggest that you read the July 2005 issue of Wired magazine. the cover of this issue reads "REMIX NOW! the rise of a cut & paste culture." the articles explore topics such as remixing in music, and Quentin Tarantino's habit of "Scene-Stealing."

now that it's clear that modders weren't to blame for this content, maybe the media will be less willing to damage the reputation of the modding community.

here's a Penny Arcade cartoon about the incident and attempted coverup:

"Who owns the words... Who owns the music and the rest of our culture? We do. All of us. Though not all of us know it - yet."
- William Gibson
July 2005 issue of Wired magazine


Anonymous said...

I'd like to point out that - having seen this hot coffee mini-game in the PC version of San Andreas, it is by no means "pornographic" in any way. The male and female characters are both fully clothed, and there is no penetration of any kind.

An adults-only rating is REDICULOUS in every way. There are scenes on primtime TV that are more explicit than this. A typical R-rated movie goes well beyond Hot Cofee, so there's no reason why the game should receive anything other than an M - even with the mod unlocked.

Stephen Cawood said...

remember that it's not a mod. the code was in the game. all the modder did was find it.

having said that, I agree that there's too much being made of this whole incident. as you pointed out, the animation is not even close to an R-rated movie.

furthermore, as someone recently stressed to me, the game itself involves shooting bystanders. I fail to see how shooting people is better than sexual content.