July 8, 2005 5:22 PM PDT

ESRB to investigate 'San Andreas' sex content

Following a verbal lashing from a California state assemblyman, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board said it's launching an investigation into "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" to determine if sexually explicit content is hidden in the game's code.

ESRB president Patricia Vance said her organization has "opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the 'Hot Coffee' modification." "Hot Coffee" refers to the mod which, when installed on a PC with San Andreas on it, unlocks several minigames that prompt players to have the game's hero engage in X-rated acts.

The ESRB's investigation will examine whether the mod unlocks preexisting code, as appears to be the case, or is actually a purely third-party creation. The board's ultimate purpose will be to determine whether Take-Two Interactive Software violated ESRB regulations requiring "full disclosure of pertinent content."

"The integrity of the ESRB rating system is founded on the trust of consumers who increasingly depend on it to provide complete and accurate information about what's in a game," Vance said in a statement released on Friday. "If after a thorough and objective investigation of all the relevant facts surrounding this modification, we determine a violation of our rules has occurred, we will take appropriate action."

Vance also had some choice words for Assemblyman Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, who, in the same statement accusing the board of "failing to appropriately rate" the game, also accused it of a "conflict of interest in rating games."

Yee implies that the nonprofit ratings board, which was established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association, shies away from adult-only ratings, regardless of the content. Most major retailers refuse to sell AO-rated games, thereby denying such titles broad distribution.

"Assemblyman Yee has been on a crusade for years to undermine the integrity of the ESRB, and in so doing, generate support for his legislative agenda," Vance said. "His latest attempt to win political points is to claim, without any legitimate basis, that a game rated for ages 17 and older, with explicit content descriptors prominently displayed on every box, has been inappropriately rated."

Saying that the agenda of the board was above reproach and that contrary to Yee's comments the ESRB has "failed parents" with San Andreas' M rating, Vance claimed "research shows parents overwhelmingly find ESRB ratings to be effective."

"We will do whatever it takes to maintain their confidence in them and the integrity of the system," Vance concluded.

Curt Feldman reported for GameSpot.

24 comments

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Idiocy In the Statehouse (What a shock!)
This guy is too stupid to realize that a mod is an entirely new set of code that the publisher isn't responsible for? Could we get the software developers in California to lobby against such stupidity in their home state?
Posted by Jim Satterfield (42 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Even if the allegations are true
And the extra levels were put in the game to begin with if you are already playing GTA is an explicit sex scene really a problem?

What like these parents are OK with their kids stealing cars and killing prostitutes but somehow having sex in the game crosses some line??
Posted by raitchison (103 comments )
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the oddity of amarica
that's the strange thing about our country, movies like Event horizon, where a man tears his own eye's out, get R Ratings but movies like Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back almost get NC-17 just for TALKING about sex acts.

And we wonder why we lead the world in gun deaths and violent crime?
Posted by god2600 (3 comments )
Link Flag
Agree
Yes! That's exactly it. These "games" are already way out of control.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
san andreas.
People can be sooo freaking stupid... realy.

After reading or hearing the news about that, a lot more of teenagers will know about that hiden feature now.

Sometime, the best is to keep quiet.
Posted by pikachu5501 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
mods (modifications) are entirely seperate
mods (modifications) are entirely seperate from the original game, most often are unnofficial from a 3rd party (such as a "garage/basement" group), and must be downloaded seperate from whatever data medium the original game came by (cd most often) via the net. Most mods are graphical, change the game physics, and or change or alter items in the game. So something such as the GTA: SA mod "Hot Coffee" under question would have been made by such a basement group, and simply adding pornographic images to a wall on a building or some other texture, object, ect. would be doable in any PC game, even when the original game is truly innocent - for small kids, somebody can make a modification to display such explicit images.

IF it was, and or is ORIGINAL GTA: SA game content, why would it be on the PC version only, and not the Playstation 2 or X-Box?

On the next step, Rockstar and GTA associated companies/divisions would stand to loose a massive amount of money for putting such content in any game (any company for that matter). Why would Rockstar make such a gamble (if you had a sure ticket to billions of dollars, would you jepardize that?)

As posted by

"Even if the allegations are true
Posted by: Robert Aitchison
Posted on: July 9, 2005, 5:02 AM PDT
Story: ESRB to investigate 'San Andreas' sex content"
"And the extra levels were put in the game to begin with if you are already playing GTA is an explicit sex scene really a problem?"

"What like these parents are OK with their kids stealing cars and killing prostitutes but somehow having sex in the game crosses some line??"
People (adults, teenagers, and kids that somehow manage to convince their parents to buy the GTA series) are cruising around the street in vehicles, purposely pick up a prostitute, and go in an alley and watch the car shake know whats going on, but Hot Coffee is showing without a doubt whats going on. Either way does it make a difference?

Much of the opposition to GTA: SA has been against the GTA series from the beginning, and simply see the latest - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and the "Hot Coffee" modification in question as an excuse ban such games.

more than enough said...
Posted by tech_junky (56 comments )
Link Flag
You're right
I play this game and didn't now about this mod. For me it doesn't matter because I'm not interested, but I'm sure it will prompt some people to go look for it now. (just to see what all fuss is about, if nothing else) Politicians spend too much time on this type of stuff and then do nothing or only give lip service to important issues. If people got as worked up about Social Security, Health Care or the environment as they do about this game series then maybe (not likely but maybe) the politicians *might* listen.
Posted by (14 comments )
Link Flag
Getting kind of silly.
I think there are worse things than this mod on cable tv! If you look at the fact that the modification a) Only works for PC versions, b) is for a game which most retailers require you to be 18+ (not the usual 17+ on the box) and c) you have to find it. The amount of effort you put into that, and what could have KIDS gotten into by then?

Some of these politicians need to go after more important issues, instead of trying to get that little piece of trophy legislation.
Posted by Jadin101 (1 comment )
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Violence ok, sex evil?
I used to work in a video rental store. I'll never forget the time a middle-aged woman walked into my store with a boy who could not have been older than six, though he looked more like four, and approached my counter. "Do you have the game...what's it called, baby?"
"Granteffotto tree," the tot replied. He was so tiny I could barely see him from behind the counter: only the top of his clean-shaven head and his big, adorable eyes, which peered up through a pair of oversized glasses, were visible to me.
"That one," said the woman.
Knowing that the video game the lad was requesting, "Grand Theft Auto III," (the newest installment in the popular series at that time) contained scenarios in which the boy would be able to steal cars, shoot cops, negotiate with prostitutes and then kill the prostitutes after receiving their services (to get the money back), I advised the woman, in the strongest way that I could, that the game was absolutely inappropriate for children.
"well, he wants it, so..." she replied dismissively, in an it-can't-be-helped manner that suggested she was powerless to do anything but obey the child's request. Babes to rule, indeed.
That was five years ago. Several sequels to the hugely popular game have been released since then. Now that the makers of the Grand Theft Auto series has made available, through a secret code, a scenario in which characters engage in regular old sex, as opposed to the traditional felony theft, prostitution, and of course, cold-blooded premeditated murder, the public is up in arms?

What is wrong with this picture?

Same old story: extreme violence is A-o.k., but sex is evil and worthy of our outrage.

When we encourage children to accept violence in all its forms while simultaneously teaching them that sex (which children naturally become interested in as they mature into teenagers) is wicked and evil, how can we act suprised when they go crazy?
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
good that you told her but...
Instead of telling her that it was a bad idea, you should have told her what you told us. What was actually in it.

Kieran Mullen
Portland OR
Posted by kieranmullen (1070 comments )
Link Flag
Wrong
THe MAKERS of GTA did NOT make this mod, some random guy made the add on code. It is still not known whether the code unlocks a sex scene that was left in the game (But not accessible) or was added by the code.
Posted by wazzledoozle (288 comments )
Link Flag
GTA 3: SA
I'm 35 and I play this and enjoy it. It doesn't make me want to go out and do the things I can do in the game. As far a kids go. I can see worse things on TV. There is plenty of sex on TV and in movies and it is way more revealing than anything in this game. If you're worried about what your kids see then cancel your cable or satilite dish get your butt off the couch and actually do things with them. Way too many parents allow the TV to raise their kids instead of spending time doing things that the KIDS enjoy. (not necessary what the parents enjoy)
Posted by (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's Very Sad
When parents are more concerned about their children learning about a powerful act of intimacy and love (sex) than they are with seeing acts of destruction, death and violence.

MAD Magazine also lampooned this foolishness in American culture with dialogue that went like this (I forgot the issue):

"I got our movie an R rating"
"That's great, how did you do it?"
"Well, you remember that steamy love scene between John and Jane?"
"Yeah! What did you do?"
"Now he shoots her."
Posted by bluemist9999 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Moot point
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is rated Mature. The rating label itself expresses that the game will contain one or more of the following:

1. Blood and gore
2. Intense violence
3. Strong language
4. STRONG SEXUAL CONTENT
5. Use of drugs

Now, granted, many people don't bother to read these things, but what exactly is the argument of the ESRB here? It's not like the game is rated "Everyone" or "Teen" and Rockstar was sneaking this stuff into an otherwise family-friendly game.

The game is rated M, and those who buy the game are entering an implied contract in the sense that they have accepted the rating and are choosing to purchase the product.

Retail stores are supposed to card people when they buy the game, but whether the retail stores do this or not is no concern of Rockstar Games, just as it isn't the concern of Philip Morris when a 14 year old buys a pack of smokes.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Great Game, Bad Parents and Wasteful Government
GTA:SA is a great game. I love it. It not only loads of fun to play, but very funny statire on modern us culture and society. it's a living work of art.

Children should not be playing this game. Parents are doing a terrible job. This game is clearly labeled M for Mature, 17+. The box clearly states that this game contains "Blood and Gore", "Intense Violence", "Strong Language", "String Sexual Content" and "Use of Drugs". How more clearly could they have labeled it.

I've downloaded the mod, just to see for myself and yes it gives access to extra content, not normally available. This content is sexually explicit, but not more so that anything children are not already seeing on late night tv or primetime cable tv. I did not see any nudity. Their is another mod that one can get that allows you to see your ingame girlfriends nude. But, as I have already said, children should not be playing this game.

The government targeting this game and company is nothing more, in my opinion, than wasteful government. Basically, they can't tell the parents, their voters, that their doing a poor job, so they pander to their voters and go after a company who has clearly not broken any laws. So they harass this company.

The funny thing is that all that the government is really doing is generating noise for this company and driving up sales for these type of games.

Plus now everyone has to have the "Hot Coffee" Mod where otherwise only a few industry insiders would have known about it.

Well it's been fun, but I have to go to play somemore GTA:SA. :D
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
H. Clinton's actions will backfire
The reason the ESRB did this is because they didn't want to face a Senate inquiry Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman were bringing against them to swoon conservative voters.

Ok. But because of this action, I've just made a decision. I won't vote for Hillary Clinton in the next election. If she becomes the nominee, then I just won't vote. I urge other people with sound minds to do this same.
Posted by bob donut (90 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I do not believe it
This is crazy. The ESRB should not be criticized for the way it rated SAN A. The AO rating does not sell because so many places do not sell the games with that rating. I play the game on the PS2 and fing a M rating to be fine. The ones that should be punished are the ones that put out the mod in the first place. They should never have done that. People who blame video games for anything they do is also crazy. Idiots like that just do not want to take responsibility for their own actions therfore they blame the games. I think that these people should be shot in the head.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
san andreas
if anione complains about a game their kids r playin then wot r u doingwhile their playin. quit ur **** and be PARENTS 2 ur own kids, not mine, anyway ur not pure u ****** or ur kids wouldnt be here more love less hate
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Build More Prisons
Is the State really going to spend millions (actually a billion) to build more prisons without determining if additional prison beds are actually needed? (Available correctional system data strongly indicates that the major correctional bed shortage is at the county level rather than the State level.)

The total State correctional system continues to operate without a system wide plan. Failure to establish and maintain such a plan has resulted in an unbalanced and uncoordinated correctional system with major problems. The State should establish an independent Correctional system planning agency responsible for the development and maintenance of a strategic correctional system plan and establishing and monitoring correctional facility, staffing and program standards. Such an agency could easily be established by separating the Correctional Standards Authority (CSA) from the Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (DC&R), establishing a strong CSA Executive Director position and assigning the CSA responsibility for strategic planning and related functions for the total State Correctional system. The current composition of the CSA could be expanded to include nationally recognized correctional experts and members from the corporate world and academia to bring other expertise and thinking into the California correctional system.

It is reported that the State intends to build additional prison and jail beds without any evidence of a normal planning process. Construction of correctional facilities involves a commitment of 30-40 years or longer and obviously requires careful total system analysis and planning. Additional correctional capacity may very well be needed, but it is not rational to construct additional correctional beds without conducting a normal planning process to determine how much additional capacity, if any, is needed, and where it may be needed. It is particularly troubling given the fact that a cursory look at available correctional system data indicates that the major bed shortage is at the county level rather than the State level. Dealing with the county jail bed shortage would probably resolve much of the prison overcrowding problem and rebalance the correctional system.

Analysis of a correctional system has to start at the front end of the system, the point of arrest and the county jail system . To quote from a Michigan Task Force on Jail and Prison Overcrowding [ there is a relationship between jail and prison overcrowding: the actions taken by one system ultimately affect the other; they are not mutually exclusive. Failure to take note of this obvious fact is a major cause for many of the current really serious California correctional system problems. The lack of correctional system leadership remains a crippling impediment to dealing with the system deficiencies. Some obvious very major concerns are:

" As a consequence of the failure to provide sufficient county jail bed capacity, offenders who historically would serve their sentences in county jails now occupy 20,000 to 30,000 or more prison beds contributing to prison overcrowding.

" Prisons are intended and designed to house and program offenders serving sentences of a year or longer  county jails are designed to house offenders serving sentences of a year or less. There are now far more county jail inmates serving their short terms in prison and being paroled than there are felons serving more than a year in prison and being paroled. In CY 2005, about 77% of all releases from prison to parole served less than 12 months in prison. Only 23% of all releases served more than 12 months in prison . In CY 2005, about 880 Felons committed to prison, were released immediately to parole without physically transferring to prison.

" If sufficient county jail beds were available, there would probably be a smaller prison system with about 125,000 inmates and a larger county jail system with about 125,000 inmates, reflecting the historical normal, balanced correctional system 50%/50% inmate split.

" Historically, about 50% of all offenders were held in a county jail and 50% were held in prison. The current ratio is about 1/3rd (80,000) in county jail and 2/3rds (160,000) in prison. There appear to no benefits and significant drawbacks to allowing such a de facto, informal policy change, including higher costs.

" The critical shortage of County Jail beds requires the monthly release of over 18,000 inmates due to lack of beds space. This is probably a major cause of the shift of so many less serious offenders serving short terms to the State Prison System.

" The incredible number of unserved warrants also presents further evidence of the serious County Jail bed space shortage . In the unlikely event unserved warrants were served, about 160,000 additional county jail beds would be required to house suspects for the current average length of stay (LOS) of 22.3 days, 17,500 additional beds for felony warrants and 146,000 additional beds for misdemeanor warrants.

The State needs to develop and maintain a strategic plan for the total statewide correctional system, a critical guide for the design and development of the correctional system. A strategic plan would be an independent resource for the Legislature, Governor and local officials and provide guidance for the orderly growth and functioning of the statewide correctional system. At the least, the State needs to take steps to gradually return responsibility for housing less serious offenders from the State Prison System back to the County Jail System. It appears to be far more rational to invest in local corrections at the front end of the system than to compound current structural problems by continuing to expand the State prison system without a sound basis for doing so.

How to pay for any needed county jail beds?

Why not fix the broken State parole system which adds an extra, unnecessary $500,000,000 per year to State prison costs. Other large States, such as Texas and New York have fixed their parole systems and made other improvements to their correctional system. The money saved by fixing the parole system could be used to pay for the additional county jail beds. If the parole system cannot be made functional again, the State should contract with counties to handle parole supervision. Failure rates for felony probationers have remained constant for the past 30 years while the parolee violation rates increased to incredibly high levels . The State could pay counties at the current costs for parole supervision and custody and save up to $500,000,000 annually.

The California Correctional System of the Future:

Looking at the correctional system from the positive side, the immensity of its problems actually present the Governor and Legislature a rare opportunity to not only improve it but probably save substantial public monies in the process. There are so many improvements/changes, large and small, that have not occurred in the California system due to its lack of leadership. The State has the opportunity to remake some parts of the system from the ground up.

Effective leadership can make the California correctional system into a national leader again. However, failure to engage in serious planning, and to continue to operate on an ad hoc basis will doom it to remain an expensive problem rather than an effective public safety asset.
Posted by richmck (1 comment )
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Message has been deleted.
Posted by Yourhackers (7 comments )
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Clinton is actually a man in disguise...
That hates video games!
Posted by sonymaster101 (150 comments )
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