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PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2005 10:27 pm    Post subject: It's official - Hell has finally frozen over. Reply with quote

http://www.gamespot.com/news/2005/07/20/news_6129500.html

Quote:
San Andreas rated AO, Take-Two suspends production

Following an investigation, ESRB slaps dreaded 18-and-over rating on controversy-racked best-seller; Take-Two lowers guidance, still blames "unauthorized third party modification."

After percolating for weeks, the Hot Coffee controversy has finally boiled over. Today, Take-Two Interactive announced that as the result of an investigation by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB), Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will now bear an AO for Adults Only rating. Previously, the game was rated M for Mature.

The re-rating comes nearly a month after the first reports surfaced of the so-called "Hot Coffee" mod for the PC version of San Andreas. After being installed, the widely available mod lets users play a bonus sex minigame as a reward for completing the numerous "girlfriend" missions in San Andreas.

After video of the mod was widely circulated, such figures as ardent anti-game activist Jack Thompson and US Senator Hilary Clinton blasted the game. Clinton went as far as to publicly equate violent games with cigarettes and alcohol as a hazard to America's youth. In turn, political heat caused the ESRB to launch the aforementioned investigation, which looked into whether the mod was included in the original game or was made by a third party.

In response, Rockstar Games, the Take-Two subsidiary that develops and publishes San Andreas, issued a carefully worded but heated statement in reference to the PC mod. "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," it read.

However, Rockstar's statement did little to extinguish the fires of controversy. Soon, reports began to surface that the console versions of San Andreas contained code for the sex minigame. Late last week, GameSpot editors unlocked the code from a PlayStation 2 copy of San Andreas bought in October 2004, using an Action Replay Max device and a series of cheat codes. Since console games are written on unalterable DVDs and cheat codes cannot introduce new content, the fact the minigame was playable at all means it was included in the original PS2 San Andreas, albeit hidden.

The AO for Adults Only rating means that, according to the ESRB's official definition, the current version of the game now "should only be played by persons 18 years and older" and "may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity." This doesn't sound too far off from the ESRB definition for the M for Mature rating, which says games bearing it "have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and/or strong language."

But while they sound similar on paper, the AO and M ratings have one very big difference in real life. Namely, most major chain stores, including the all-important retail behemoth Wal-Mart, will not carry AO-rated games. By contrast, M-rated games aren't even separated from games bearing the T for Teen, E10+ for Everyone 10 and older, and E for Everyone ratings. (Games rated EC for Early Childhood are usually educational in scope and are found in different sections.)

In its statement, Take-Two outlined its response to the commerce-limiting AO rating. "[Take-Two subsidiary] Rockstar Games has ceased manufacturing of the current version of the title and will begin working on a version of the game with enhanced security to prevent the 'hot coffee' modifications," it read. "This version will retain the original ESRB M-rating and is expected to be available during the Company's fourth fiscal quarter." The quarter in question runs from August to October, 2005. The company will also release a patch for the currently available PC version of the game which will lock out the sex minigames.

Take-Two also braced Wall Street for the financial fallout of the ESRB's decision. Its statement, which was released after markets closed, said the company was lowering guidance for its third fiscal quarter (which ends July 31, 2005) to $160-$170 million in net sales and a net loss per share of $0.40-$0.45. Take-Two also lowered its guidance for the fiscal year (which ends October 31) to $1.26-$1.31 billion in net sales and $1.05-$1.12 in diluted earnings per share. The news hammered Take-Two's stock, which was down $1.82 (6.72 percent) in after-hours trading as of press time.

While not good, today's news was not as bad as it could have been. Most industry watchers had expected a hefty fine from either the ESRB or possibly even the government. Some even speculated that the company would be forced to recall all copies of the game, at a catastrophic expense.

For its part, Take-Two stuck by its contention that the re-rating was "due to unauthorized third party 'Hot Coffee' modification." The publisher reminded the public that "the scenes depicted in the 'Hot Coffee' modification are not playable in the retail version of the game unless the user downloads and/or installs unauthorized software that alters the content of the original retail version of the title, representing a violation of Take-Two and Rockstar's end user license agreement (EULA) and intellectual property rights."

Paul Eibeler, Take-Two's president and chief executive officer, also gave his personal thoughts on the matter in the statement. "We are deeply concerned that the publicity surrounding these unauthorized modifications has caused the game to be misrepresented to the public and has detracted from the creative merits of this award winning product," he said.

"The ESRB's decision to re-rate a game based on an unauthorized third party modification presents a new challenge for parents, the interactive entertainment industry and anyone who distributes or consumes digital content," Eibler continued. "Rockstar Games is pleased that the investigation is now settled and they look forward to returning their focus to making innovative and groundbreaking video games for a mature audience."

By Tor Thorsen -- GameSpot
POSTED: 07/20/05 03:15 PM PST


thats a bitch to read, but god damn. I hate left wing extremists, and Clinton is a bitch.

To those who decided not to read it, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is now rated AO, meaning if you don't have it yet, go out and get it before it's only available at specialty shops.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2005 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And Jack Thompson has an itty-bitty, teeny little penis.

(There. If we're going to make gender-based attacks on people because of their opinions, let's keep it balanced.)
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i liked clinton until she started this bullshit crusade.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2005 1:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

meh..i'm 27 so it doesn't really effect me. At least we can still play them. It could be worse..they could ban it altogether.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2005 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if now would be a good time to apply for a job there? The bad press might discourage other applicants.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2005 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



But seriously, don't you think our government has better things to do? Like catching them terrorists and the like? Why waste time on such small things?
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2005 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's perfect. Right when I have money to buy the game, the local retail stores refuse to stock it because it's AO now.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2005 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sad... just... sad. Not that I care or anything about that particular game, but these extremists will try to shit on democracy and if they're rich enough the video game industry may be pretty screwed.

Since when did video-games promote violence? From what I can tell, videogames help control violence by allowing people to port thier destructive urges into a non-damagine fashion.

If we live in democracies (almost everyone with internet not in Cuba), shouldn't we be able to procure the video games we want?

I agree Doom 3 or GTA should not be in the hands of small children, but if I play Doom 3 and the next day my boss fires me, I will not find a shotgun and boomstick him to death. Teenagers and adults have the ability to make desisions, and they are also able to predict the consequences of thier choices. We're not fucking children!

Parents have the responicibility to make sure thier children are playing games suitable for thier age and temperment. It always brings a smile to my face when I see a young kid trying to convince his dad into letting him play a video game rated M. and the dad just says "no". That's what parents should be doing, not those pansies like Clinton and Thompson.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2005 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why do they care what we play? Like PCGamer said, the only problem that allows games to do what they do to unresponsible children is LOUSY PARENTING!! (insert random justifying comment here)
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know, the rational, don't-freak stuff is buried deep in this article.

The game is not ceasing to exist. *Currently-available* copies get the AO rating. New copies with protection will be available next month, and will bear the original M rating. Nothing's getting banned or removed from existence. In fact, I just saw an ad for the game about 30 seconds ago, and the M rating is intact on it. That "suspends production" headline is pretty misleading, all in all.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 1:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh wait...I'm in Canada. I don't have this problem..hehehe..
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

desert_drum wrote:
You know, the rational, don't-freak stuff is buried deep in this article.

The game is not ceasing to exist. *Currently-available* copies get the AO rating. New copies with protection will be available next month, and will bear the original M rating. Nothing's getting banned or removed from existence. In fact, I just saw an ad for the game about 30 seconds ago, and the M rating is intact on it. That "suspends production" headline is pretty misleading, all in all.


Thanks desert, for providing a rational voice amongst all this childish whining.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the love of ducktape... what the hell is wrong with this world... GTA: SA is a great game... I personally think it would've even been better if there was some more sex involved... and now there is, and it's a bad thing... some people should just jump of a bridge and die...

Edit: I mean, why don't they give The Sims, all UT games and RTCW the AO rating as well? I mean, I've seen plenty of nude patches and nude skins for those games... really... what the fuck, Chuck?
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simon_Says wrote:
Since when did video-games promote violence? From what I can tell, videogames help control violence by allowing people to port thier destructive urges into a non-damagine fashion.



I'm a criminal justice student (considering returning to NYC to get my masters at John Jay), and in a class a couple of years back, one of my classmates did a report on the effects of violent cartoon shows and video games on America's youth. She mainly focused on cartoons - [sarcasm]such violent horrors as The Power Puff Girls, Samurai Jack, Road Runner & Coyote, Tom & Jerry [/sarcasm].

And pretty much everyone in the class (myself included) said about the same thing you did: "I play(ed) violent video games and watch(ed) those cartoons, and I don't run around killing people."

But, studies do show that, specifically in younger teens, aggression levels are significantly increased after playing those games or watching those shows. Not necessarily murder levels, but they're more likely to bully and start fights than children who didn't play the game/watch the show.

Now, I personally believe that all the blame laying on games, TV shows and movies come mostly from 1) parents who refuse to take responsibility for their children, 2) children who refuse to take responsibility of their own actions, and 3) politicians who hope to tap into that vocal minority's fear in order to get votes.

I, for one, love to take out my aggression on a game. Any time I'm feeling particularly hostile, I launch AvP, predator, pigsticker cheat, level 3: Vaults. And I blast the hell out of a couple hundred aliens and I feel better.

But, I guess my long and rambling point is that there are people out there who are affected negatively by violent games/shows. To what degree, no one can agree. But, there it is.

If you want to dig up some of the research on the subject here's a couple of links you can check in to:

http://www.ncjrs.org/

Hm, okay, the other sites I have need usernames and passwords to get into, and are affiliated with colleges. Those of you in school can no doubt use some of the same sites if you're so inclined. Razz
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aramor wrote:

Edit: I mean, why don't they give The Sims, all UT games and RTCW the AO rating as well? I mean, I've seen plenty of nude patches and nude skins for those games... really... what the fuck, Chuck?


The issue, which this article fails to touch upon, is whether the game arrived on shelves with that content in it (the company's fault), or if patches *put* the content there, or altered non-adult content to make it adult (not the company's fault, and apparently the case with the patches on the above games).

The company in this case claims the patch opens altered game content, and that they did not put that content in to begin with. Somehow, according to them, the games were hacked, putting this content on them so consumers could go get a patch and unlock it.

The problem with that is, the content is still there on non-alterable formats, so it wasn't hackers. In other words, they're lying about it. The inclusion in commercially-available copies may have been accidental (and I suspect it wasn't, in fact), but it wasn't some shadowy hacker person who put it there. So instead of saying "That was an in-house joke that shouldn't have been released, and we're sorry," they're making up some fairy tale to cover their asses so their little publicity stunt doesn't get them sued.

Whatever you think of sex in these games, the fact is, they agreed to abide by a ratings scale that says graphic sex depictions get the AO rating, and now they're being made to do so. This scale was not dropped on them off a mountain someplace; they knew about it when someone locked the content rather than remove it.

I suspect this of being a ploy just like movies often engage in now. They either put out ads cheerfully announcing "This film has not yet been rated" or generate a lot of publicity about having to cut this and that material to make a rating level (This has gotten even more obnoxious since DVD and the potential to put back this stuff for home release).

I mean, consider it rationallly: Do you think it hurts this company at all that the currently shelved copies of the game have now become rarities for all intents and purposes, and will be sought after and hoarded? Do you think tons of free publicity hurts them, or the misguided cries of "Censorship!"? They got what they wanted, and the downside for them is that they won't be shipping copies of this game for oh, a week, maybe two at the most. And what do you think will happen when the new copies are shelved? Watch that sales spike, baby.

I am an absolute berserker about censorship; half a lifetime spent studying writing and literature will do that to you. However, don't mistake this for censorship. It isn't.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i god of war you have sex with twins and see tits aplenty. There is no actual sexual parts shown in "Coffee" just movement.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, following that logic, God of War should also have an AO rating. Trying to point out a logical inconsistency is a seemingly good approach, but it can backfire.
Rather than trying to argue that it is not the place of the ESRB to take the place of proper parenting, one should realize that video game ratings are (at least ostensibly) a tool to aid parents in their responsibility. Now, if parents decide that the game is appropriate for their children, they can simply buy it for them. As desert_drum pointed out, it's not as if the game has been banned.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a different point of view. Action Replay hacks have to be downloaded off of the internet, correct? What else you can download on the internet? (porn). So what exactly are they protecting us from? Banning stuff like that will only further encourage the naughty little boys that are too busy playing video games to do stuff like download hot steamy action.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lovely, scenic slope, but a wee bit on the slippery side.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I think based on the fact that you can graphically murder innocent bystanders, policemen, hookers, and... well, everything else with the game, it should have been AO to begin with. I mean, it's a great game, but I think vicious murders are a hell of a lot worse than sex scenes.

"I'd rather have my child watch two people making love than two people killing eachother"
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, but you now how it goes in the gaming industry... you can hang someone with his intestines, run him over with a tank until he's stuck in you're treads and slice him open from ass to nose... but if they show you one nipple in the game, it's considered a very dangerous game for our kids's health... or something. Stupid non-gamers.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I don't if it's the same over there, Aramor, but that's how it is in the US. Violence is acceptable, but sex cannot be tolerated.
I tend to agree with Inkmonkey regarding the content of the game. It's not just violence; it's graphically killing innocent bystanders. And it's not just sex; it's getting it on with a hooker, and then beating her to death to get your money back.
Yes. it is theoretically possible to play the game as a moral individual, but that certainly is not how it was designed.
I have long been a proponent of the notion that graphic games don't really hurt anyone, but even I have to wonder if they are perhaps going a little far nowadays. To me, ripping out your opponents spine or mowing down legions of zombies with a machine gun is nothing because it is more outlandish. But when you have these games which strive for realism, things just get a little more disturbing to me. GTA never really appealed to me because the notion of killing cops and beating hookers just doesn't do much for me.
That's my two cents.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blaster wrote:
That's my two cents.


*Whack Blaster on the head with a baseball bat, then pulls out his Desert Eagle and shoots him in the head a couple of times*

What, I wanted to check if you had more in ya than two cents...

In my opinion, GTA is too cartoony to be considered violent gameplay. I mean, the first time I saw some footage of GTAIII I was all like "geez, that sure is a lot of blood... they could've done with less... stupid-ass game..." but when I finally played it, it wasn't so bad. I was more like "hey, let me see how long it takes to whack someone with my baseball bat until the red stuff representing blood stops squirting out..."

Where we actually talking about the violent content in GTA? I kinda lost track....
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Inkmonkey wrote:
Personally, I think based on the fact that you can graphically murder innocent bystanders, policemen, hookers, and... well, everything else with the game, it should have been AO to begin with. I mean, it's a great game, but I think vicious murders are a hell of a lot worse than sex scenes.

"I'd rather have my child watch two people making love than two people killing eachother"


I agree, and it applies to movies, as well. But they agreed to live by the rating system as-is, no matter how morally skewed that system may be. Could it be that system everyone should be questioning, rather than how any one game fits into it? Hmmmm....
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nope.

Razz
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