July 13, 2005 11:16 AM PDT

Hackers behind sex change, says 'Grand Theft' maker

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ESRB to investigate 'San Andreas' sex content

July 8, 2005
After two weeks of mounting controversy, Rockstar Games addressed charges that the PC version of its best seller "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" contains sexually explicit minigames unlockable by a widely available mod.

In a statement on Wednesday, Rockstar claimed it is not responsible for the so-called "Hot Coffee" mod. Instead, the Take-Two Interactive subsidiary said the mod was the result of "the work of a determined group of hackers who have gone to significant trouble to alter scenes in the official version of the game."

Two ongoing investigations--one by the U.S.-based Entertainment Software Rating Board and another by an arm of the Australian government--are underway into the popular crime game. Specifically, the organizations are looking at whether the featured sex minigames and nude models are based on preexisting code accessed via the mod or whether they were introduced by the mod itself.

The publisher, which has a reputation for being reticent with the press, has said little since the "Hot Coffee" mod was uncovered. Since then, debate over the mod's origin has prompted stories in the general media, enthusiast press and major business and finance outlets.

Today's statement not only fingers hackers for creating the mod, it also goes into some detail about their modus operandi: "Hackers created the 'Hot Coffee' modification by disassembling and then combining, recompiling and altering the game's source code."

Rockstar added that it intends to take steps to ensure the Hot Coffee mod is neutralized. "Since the 'Hot Coffee' scenes cannot be created without intentional and significant technical modifications and reverse-engineering of the game's source code, we are currently investigating ways that we can increase the security protection of the source code."

In addition to addressing the mod's origin, Rockstar also updated the industry on its compliance with the ESRB investigation, saying it was doing all it could to aid the ratings board.

"We are continuing work diligently to assist the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) as it investigates the circumstances surrounding the recently discovered "hot coffee" modification...We remain confident that the ESRB assigned 'Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' the correct rating: M (Mature 17+)."

Curt Feldman reported for GameSpot.

13 comments

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Work of Fiction?
My first inclination is to not believe Rock Star's accusations, but I am certian that it is my bias against the game in general providing the ... um ...bias. Either way, the investigations should be able to support or deny Rock Star's claim - to a point. Based on what Rock Star Games (RSG) has said, then the code that generates the minigames in question should NOT exist in a freshly-installed, off-the-shelf copy of GTA:SA, unless RSG is suggesting that the makers of the Hot Coffee mod actually broke into their development network and modified the game as it was in process.
Posted by rencheple (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well
I think the code was probably there to begin with. Who ever created the Hot Coffee Mod probably just found a way to unlock it.

Here is my thinking on this. First, GTA should not be in the hands of anyone under the age of 18.

Second, if you are offended by the Hot Coffee Mod then you don't need to be playing GTA anyway.

Third, (and I am jumping the gun since nobody has posted anything about this yet) why shouldn't I be able to make a choice about the kind of games I choose to play. Why is it that many people are bent on removing games like this all together from the market place. I am an adult and I like games like this. Nobody and I mean nobody should have the right to take that choice away from me or anybody else.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
The worst response I could have expected
I am 100% against the persecution of the GTA series. San Andreas is one of the biggest, most freeform games I have ever played in my long gaming career. It offers a world in which you have the freedom to do (almost) anything you choose.
The critisisms of a few people who have never played the game has always hurt me, but not as much as Rockstar's bowing to their fascist will.
The ability of the user to play as they wish, and add content as they wish, is a major part of what makes this form of media the best in history. Inhibiting this ability will not only harm this franchise, but every other game that follows.
Rockstar, please stand up to these nazis. Stand up for the people who love your product and the industry as a whole.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Not wrong, just wrong
Ok, while we share different views on the value on this particular game, let's get a couple of things straight:

1) If they are telling the truth, and the content was "inserted" by hackers, then they are not bowing to fascist demands. In which case, you are espousing a conspiracy theory - shouldn't you put your aluminum foil hat back on?

2) If they are not telling the truth, then they were NOT wrong to put the content in there (even locked away by editing), just wrong to not disclose [the potential of] the content to the ESRB to allow for the game to receive the proper rating. Of course, the would also be wrong for lying about the whole hacker thing, which could very well be that they are bowing to the demands of fascist like myself, who believe that seeing cruelty and lawlessness (even fictionalized) as entertainment is a sign of a rotten core in a society. Of course, it also means my mind-wave beaming device is functioning properly.
Posted by rencheple (12 comments )
Link Flag
why?
why would R* put code in to be unlocked? the mod was created by a third party for fun! this is how Counter Strike was made! the modding community is a huge part of PC gaming. if you don't want your game to be hacked and modded, don't release it for PC, it's that simple!
Posted by Scott W (419 comments )
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Thank you!
I was hoping someone would ask this!

Waaaaay back when, I was a "Sentinel" in Asheron's Call. As a member of the rule enforcement arm of the Online Team, it fell to my fellow sentinels, overseers and I to enforce the Code of Conduct (CoC). One of the legal reasons the CoC was written and enforced the way it was because the game had a "T" rating. Of course, being a MMO, there was very little, if any inherent content in the game that warranted a "T" rating - mostly just the violence common to most RPG style fantasy games of good-vs-evil. The game received a "T" rating because of what it was POSSIBLE to do within the game.

The same thing applies to GTA. The code system is designed to act as a guide to both consumers and parents. What good would the guide be to parents if the game cane be PURCHASED in a "T" state but unlocked, through the willful action of their kids, to an "Adults Only" style of play?

Frankly it's not wrong to insert this content in the game, locked or unlocked. It would be wrong to try and ban the game because of it (or any other part of its content). The majority of folks who take a position similar to mine don't want to BAN it, we just want it rated correctly. We want the manufacturer and distributors to be held to a standard when it comes to selling it.
Posted by rencheple (12 comments )
Link Flag
Kinda fishy
The 'creator' of the mod says otherwise:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://patrickw.gtagames.nl/" target="_newWindow">http://patrickw.gtagames.nl/</a>

Apparently... just one bit needed to be toggled to unlock it. This isn't newly created content. It all originally existed in the game data and just needs to be unlocked.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They are plain wrong!
Rockstar is wrong....

1st) This same mini-game can be accessed with the PS2, Xbox, and PC (only one flag in the save games are required to cut it on)

2nd) To make this mod from scratch you would need an editor for rockstars text files (GXT), an editor for models (Which still hasn't been made fully), and an editor sound and textures.
Granted that there are tools to edit some of this, you can not edit all of it. And the tools have only been out the past month or so.

3rd) The mod was relased a week after the PC version came out, when there where no tools for the PC.

4th) I know the people how made this mod, and it is only a simple "00" being changed to a "01" in a hex editor.

As a modder of GTA SAn Andreas I find there replay offensive to the whole community thats ahs help bring this game to the fore-front.
Posted by wackedout1 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Useless...
GTA has no redeeming social value, with or without the mod. It is a
gross replication of puely hedonistic behavior whose sole purpose
is increasing the corporate revenue stream. And the publishers can
be confident that there are more than enough mindless gamers in
the PC world to fill the corporate coffers.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Welcome...
Welcome to the world in which you live!
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
 

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