Knight's Style

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Why is the "Hot Coffee" issue so HOT?!?!

It was a normal day for me. I got up, took a shower, went to class, and came home for my four-hour break. Nothing special. That was, until I got to take a look at my favorite gaming news sites, only to find one of the most controversial decisions made in recent times.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was pulled from store shelves due to the Hot Coffee Mod.

Let me start with this: I'm a 22-year-old gamer who grew up playing games. It's always been a part of my life, and it always will be. With that out of the way, it confuses me why they gave this ruling, but at the same time I understand. Allow me to explain.

The GTA series is widely known for being a sandbox kind of game. You can basically do what you want. If you want to grab a police car and chase criminals, you can. If you want to grab a taxi and collect fares, you can do that also. The big thing about this series though, is that if you want to get a hooker, or kill a policeman, or just about any person you see, you can do it to your heart's desire. That is primarily what fuels my confusion on the subject. When playing a game of GTA, most people do what they can't do in real life. Kill enough policeman and you get swarms of retaliation from fellow policemen.

The thing that confuses me about the situation is that while maiming and killing all the innocents and criminals alike is fine for the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board), showing a textured model of a human body isn't (keep in mind that it's a POORLY rendered model at that). The last time I checked, the game shipped with a Mature rating. That means anyone under the age of 17 shouldn't be playing the game... Why is it that people don't want to raise thieir own children anymore? No parent should be able to say they don't know what the Ratings mean, because just about everywhere I've seen games sold, there's a Ratings Definition sheet somewhere around. Be it cardboard and sticking off of the cabinet or a plastic sheet that sticks to the window, the ratings are everywhere i've seen video games sold. Not to mention that the game package has the rating along with a little box on the back explaining WHY said game got said rating. The days of "I didn't know what I was buying" should be long past.

If you're a parent and you hear the name of a FELONY such as Grand Theft Auto, it might just clue you in on what it is that you're paying for. If anyone should be sued, it's the parents for bad parenting. If you buy your 13-year-old a game rated Mature, and your kid goes out and does something crazy like shooting people out of a moving car, the question SHOULD be "Where did your kid get the guns" or "How could this go on without your knowing." I'm sick of hearing video games get the rap for someone else's bad parenting. Blame the parents there. Bottom Line.

Let's touch another part of the case - the "Hot Coffee" Mod. It seems to me that if it takes someone an inordinate amount of time hacking the game code, and changing the original game data, then there is no way the mass population can even access it. Let's not forget that on console versions, there needs to be significant modifications to the hardware to even access said code with the console itself. It takes a modded system, you have to edit the code on a PC, then upload it BACK to the console to even attempt to see it. That tells me that less than 3% of the installed base will even TRY to see it. Big Deal.

Now, in a way, I can understand the ESRB's rating change because the code IS STILL in the game. That's understandable in that right, but when you think about the rest of the game, what does simulated sex add to the game? Not much at all. It's already an extremely violent game aimed at older audiences, so what difference is this from an R rated movie scene? Anyone seen Monster's Ball?

Personally, I think that this entire thing is just a ploy by politicians to take a blow at one of the most controversial games of all time. Having played GTA:SA, I admit to enjoying it for hours on end. Having not played "Hot Coffee" on the other hand, I can admit that underwhelming interactive sex scenes that you have to work hours just to take a peek at aren't on my "To Do" list.

To close, I'd like to make a suggestion to all those parents who buy their kids games, then blame them for the demise of their children: Start being a good parent and stop relying on the court system to fix where you've obviously went wrong.

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