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GTA Sex Game Leads to ESRB Fracas 732

At first, it was nothing more than a rumour. A "sex mini-game" in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, left in the code for the PC version and unlocked by inquisitive players. Then, as more and more information became available it seemed as though the sex game might be real. This revelation has lead to California Speaker pro-tem Yee blasting the ESRB for their apparent slip-up in examining all the content in the game. The ESRB has responded by pledging a "thorough and objective investigation" of the claims to get to the bottom of the situation. Commentary is available from Joystiq, GamesAreFun, and Buttonmashing.
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GTA Sex Game Leads to ESRB Fracas

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  • Better Quesiton (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Quasar1999 (520073) on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:22PM (#13016324) Journal
    Did the ESRB rate the mini-games that came with MS office apps, namely the flight sim with Excel and the DOOM clone with Word?
  • This is bull (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SteveXE (641833) on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:23PM (#13016334)
    How can the ESRB or even Rockstar be blamed for this? They removed the content from the game itself, its not their fault some gamers found a way to put it back in. Its funny how these people jump on anyone at anytime for no reason at all. The game is rated mature, and unless I live in some Bizzaro World im pretty sure just about every 17 year old has either had sex or seen porn.
  • Uhh.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:23PM (#13016343)
    GTA: San Andreas is rated ESRB M for Mature (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs).

    So what's the problem again?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:24PM (#13016353)
    There's a lot of anti-computer-game sentiment in the world today, and the argument "we're adults, we can choose what to play" carries a lot more weight when games have ratings, so it's obvious to those who are choosing a game for a kid what's going to be in it.

    So when game authors turn around and put stuff in a game, hidden, that go far beyond what the game rating indicates is in there, it does nothing to help our cause. It makes the game ratings unreliable, which means people who want to trust ratings (parents, say) suddenly have no indicator that they can trust, and their only fallback is "all games suck".
  • scapegoat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gclef (96311) on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:25PM (#13016363)
    Honestly, I don't see how the ESRB could have known this stuff was there, without hacking every part of every game file. To get this stuff you have to manually change a couple game files. If it's something you have to consciously hack, and can't even get to in the course of (even wacky) gameplay, then it's not really part of the game.

    Yes, the designers shouldn't have shipped the game with that stuff anyway, but that's not ESRB's fault, that's the coder's. Using this to scapegoat the ESRB is stupid.
  • by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp@@@gmail...com> on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:26PM (#13016372) Homepage
    While I think it was probably bad judgement for the creators of the game to put this in the game, it's not like this is really part of the game anyways, kids aren't going to come across the in normal play or anything. I mean, surely any person who would go through the trouble it takes to get to this easter egg would be able to find far more graphic things on the web.
  • Double Standard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832) * on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:29PM (#13016400)
    The game is already rated M because of its violence, but sex in said game has the California legislature up in arms? Of all the "bad things" in the game it's the sex that's supposed to have pushed up to Ao?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:30PM (#13016410)
  • Stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Evro (18923) * <{moc.liamg} {ta} {namffohdnave}> on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:31PM (#13016418) Homepage Journal
    Nobody young enough to be traumatized by a "sex game" should be playing any of the GTA games at all to begin with. Once again, blame parents.
  • by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp@@@gmail...com> on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:31PM (#13016420) Homepage
    Clearly this game was misrated! It's rated "M" implying that it's suitable for no one under 17 when obviously it should get the highest rating of "AO" to reflect that no one under 18 should play it.

  • Re:This is bull (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MooCows (718367) on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:33PM (#13016443)
    > Games with such sexual content are supposed to get an AO rating as far as I remember, not a mere M.

    Because sex is, obviously, so much more damaging to the mind of a 17 year old than killing people.

    I wonder if and when this will change in the mindset of people.
    What's causing this 'fear of sex' anyways?
  • by smeenz (652345) on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:34PM (#13016449) Homepage
    This is so ridiculous.

    Clearly they wrote the code and then decided to play it safe and comment out the line that calls it before submitting the game for rating, replication, and distribution.

    So someone comes along and adds the call to that disabled code back in and it's rockstar's fault.. how ?

    How is this different from the nude models in Sims 2, or the console command to remove the pixelization when the sims are showering in that same game ? Surely EA Games aren't responsible for that ?

  • by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:34PM (#13016450) Homepage
    If you have to actually mod the game to "unlock" this then I don't see why this is the ESRB's business. The game Rockstar shipped deserved the rating it received. The game with the porn in it is a result of modification by the end user and therefore a different game from the ESRB's perspective. You could easily mod quake 3 so that, I don't know, all the textures are hardcore pornography, but that doesn't earn quake 3 an "adult" rating.

    But, of course-- and this incident just goes to show this-- the ESRB isn't actually about allowing gamers to be informed about their purchases, or about allowing parents to responsibly monitor and regulate the video game usage of their children. Those things are just halfhearted side effects. The ESRB is about feeding and indulging hysteria and media hype concerning video games. With this goal in mind, of course, the ability to mod a game to unlock or insert porn becomes very much the ESRB's business.
  • by gremlins (588904) on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:35PM (#13016457)
    Kids aren't going to come across it because good parents would not let their young children play GTA. It all comes down to in the end that these idiots don't seem to understand that the games cost about $50 each. Kids can't afford this unless parents are giving their kids $50 dollars and paying no attation to what they spend it on. Mabey a teenager with a job could afford it but then again who cares about protecting them from this game.
  • Re:Double Standard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Siener (139990) on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:36PM (#13016463) Homepage
    Beating up hookers: OK
    Having sex with them: BAD
  • Re:This is bull (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schiefaw (552727) on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:38PM (#13016482)
    Welcome to America where (in the media, at least) you can kill whoever you like in as messy a fashion as you like as long as you don't show any genitals or say anything offensive while doing it.
  • Re:Double Standard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Catiline (186878) <akrumbach@gmail.com> on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:39PM (#13016489) Homepage Journal
    Darn tooting right, it's a double standard. "Ao" means "Sex Game", e.g. Leisure Suit Larry or those wacky Japanese "dating sims". No amount of violence will put a game there... but a single tit (or any other form of nudity) will force the game there.

    Remember, this is America, land of the Free -- free to show and sell violence, to all, but not sex. (Remember Janet's Superbowl wardrobe malfunction? Lead to a $550K fine [cnn.com], one of the largest ever.)
  • by WidescreenFreak (830043) on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:40PM (#13016505) Homepage Journal
    Exactly. This is like getting all high and mighty because an NC-17 movie has unadvertised sex in it that was left on a master replication print that differed from a screener print. There are no stronger rating in games or movies, so what exactly is the ESRB expected to do? Apologize saying, "Oh, we're sorry. That should have been Stronger Sexual Content"?

    The game is not directed at kids and should not be purchased by kids. It says so right on the damned box!

    Adding a topless woman in a frame of The Rescuers (Disney) ... okay, I could understand why certain people were upset by that incident. But in this case it's nothing more than the Indecency Policeman getting on his moral high horse in order to make it seem as though he's oh-so-very-worried about the delicate values of the people that he so caringly represents. {/SARCASM}

    Wait a minute ... Yee's a D-California??? And he's worried about indecency? Wow! Who would have thought! (Yes, humorless mods, that's a joke.)

    Once again, a politician is out to make a huge fuss to prove to his constituency that he's worthy of re-election. "Molehill, I'd like you to meet your replacement, Mountain. Mountain is going to be my new Public Relations chief and head of my re-election campaign."
  • Re:scapegoat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by UserChrisCanter4 (464072) on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:42PM (#13016516)
    Thing is, I'm not even sure you can blame the coder. Lots of games have levels or characters or what-not that are "cut" partway through the design process. These parts are "left in" because removing them introduces more QA problems than simply cutting off all access.

    Then we go even beyond that. Many of those "cut" parts are sometimes accessible through codes or bugs. GTA3, for example, had a ghost town that, IIRC, could be reached if the player input a low-gravity code and flew there using the plane. Occasioanlly, you find 3rd person adventure games where the player can fall between the seams of a level to access something intended to be cut.

    Problem is, this is not the case for San Andreas. These mini-games were cut, likely because Rockstar realized the outcry that might occur when the soccer moms of the world heard about it. Again, probably for QA/testing reasons, the games weren't removed entirely, but simply had all access cut.

    Getting to these areas requires modifying system files; we aren't talking about a bug or a secret code, we're talking about a mod here. The uproar is as preposterous as blaming Eidos/Core for the old "Nude Raider" patches or complaining that a spreadsheet program doesn't add correctly after a library has been edited. Don't blame the programmers. Don't blame the ESRB.

    On second thought, just wait a week, and the hurricane or shark attacks will have pushed this "issue" entirely out of the media.
  • by blueZhift (652272) on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:42PM (#13016517) Homepage Journal
    If indeed GTA is no longer appealing, then all of the fuss over stuff that the children could not possibly get to without a lot of help is just a lot of free advertising for Rockstar Games. Now there'll be a whole bunch of horny teens hacking the game for the sex games over the weekend!
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:44PM (#13016538) Homepage
    In the movie world, there's the theatrical release, rated by the MPAA, and then, often, there's the unrated "Director's cut", with extra sex, violence, or long boring scenes, depending on what was cut in the first pass. Games may go that way. Would probably increase sales, too.
  • Re:This is bull (Score:3, Insightful)

    by snuf23 (182335) on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:44PM (#13016542)
    I'm certainly not going to argue that violence is ok and sex is not, however sex does carry with it certain responsibilities. The fear in parents is that their children will be attracted to unsafe and irresponsible sex. Also that sex won't be associated with love but rather just used in a physical manner.
    Unprotected sex can lead to disease including AIDS which will change your life forever and kill you. Unprotected sex can also lead to unwanted pregnancy which in a lot of ways is worse than disease as it impacts an entirely new life. Abortion has a dramatic physchological impact and can't be considered an "easy" solution to pregnancy.
    Now I'm all for more sex and less violence and I don't consider the naked human body something sinful. The fact is though, that depicting sex should also educate about the possible dangers. Maybe virtual sex needs virtual condoms. After all your GTA character gets fat if he eats too much junk food and doesn't exercise. Maybe he should come down with an STD if he fucks every skank in the neighborhood. Or maybe he can be have his cash taken away to support the kid he fathered.
  • Rating system (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp@@@gmail...com> on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:45PM (#13016546) Homepage
    "M" is no one under 17
    "AO" is no under 18

    So to clarify, running over people, shooting people, killing police officers, stealing cars, etc. are all okay if you're 17. Consensual sex, on the other hand, you have to be 18 for.
  • Re:Ridiculous! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:46PM (#13016555) Homepage

    That's one of things Europeans just can't understand about America. It's acceptable in America to take kids of 12 or 13 to a Schwarzenneger movie where he blows the bad guy up with a rocket launcher while saying something witty. If the movie involves people talking out their problems while there is a breast visible, then it's adults-only fare.

  • sex vs. violence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phriedom (561200) on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:46PM (#13016561)
    The US has strange attitudes about sex and violence. GTA:SA has (appropriately in my opinion) an M rating. The game allows you, if you choose, to:kill other gang members, cops and innocent bystanders in lots of gruesome ways (including setting them on fire or beating them to death with a big purple dildo); become a pimp; have sex with hookers; visit a strip club and get private dances; and lots of other mayhem. As part of the plot you need to kill or seduce a waitress at a casino who is into bondage.

    But all of that is done without any nudity. Oh, but now it is revealed that if you hack the game you can see a blocky, pixellated bare boobie. Quick, somebody whip up some righteous indignation and start a fedral investigation! 17-year-olds need to be protected from boobies!
  • Re:Double Standard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Taevin (850923) * on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:48PM (#13016582)
    I've never understood that tendency myself but it is what happens more often than not. It's okay for people to see or participate in (in a game) the wholesale slaughter of people but if a breast is shown for even a brief moment, all hell breaks loose. Activist groups no one has ever heard of and droves of mortified parents come out from whatever rock they apparently live under. And show a penis, especially an erect penis, and you might as well kill yourself because you'll probably be charged with all sorts of sexual deviancy crimes and never see the light of day again.

    But it's okay because it's all to protect the children. Since there is no way a teenager has ever seen these parts and no reason to ever understand sex until they're 30, we MUST stop these horrible sex shows!
  • Re:This is bull (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hosecoat (877680) on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:53PM (#13016618) Homepage
    im pretty sure just about every 17 year old has either had sex or seen porn.

    they have definitely all seen a vagina.

  • by cavemanf16 (303184) on Friday July 08, 2005 @04:56PM (#13016644) Homepage Journal
    I mean, surely any person who would go through the trouble it takes to get to this easter egg would be able to find far more graphic things on the web.

    And this is obvious to everyone but the politicians and super-conservatives.

  • by That's Unpossible! (722232) * on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:00PM (#13016670)
    The US has strange attitudes about sex and violence.

    Ho hum. Yes, we know. This point is made a million times every time a sex/violence topic is brought up re: movies or video games.

    Yes, it is stupid. Yes we know about it. No, there's nothing you can do about it except keep pushing the envelope, minding your own business, writing your congressman to complain when they try to take on the role of guardian of your children, and voting for representatives that will pledge not to do so if elected.

    Complaining about this strange idiosyncracy on Slashdot will not change a goddamn thing.

    However, it will bore the shit out of me and anyone else that has read 2+ articles about this topic, which I would wager is 90% of the Slashdot viewers.
  • by ObligatoryUserName (126027) on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:00PM (#13016674) Journal
    This is potentially the death knell for the ESRB. They are quite explicit in their direction to companies submiting games - all content, regardless of how it is accessed must be submitted for rating. Indeed, I'm not even sure if the ESRB gets playable versions of the games, they ask for footage of the most extreme sex and violence in the game. (They have guidelines to let you know what's significant.)

    The only enforcement power that the ESRB has is the promise that if you try to trick them they will refuse to rate your games. If they won't rate your game you can't use their trademarked logos on your games. If you don't have a ESRB logo on your game the major retailers will refuse to carry your game.

    So, here's the problem. GTA 4 is going to come out sometime. When it does there will be huge demand for it. If these claims hold true, the ESRB has a choice - either refuse to rate the game, and risk undermining their authority if stores carry the game anyway (and stores have to choose if they want to sell the game themselves, or risk introducing their customers to the competition if they are forced to buy the game on the Internet), or rate the game anyway and lose the only enforcement tool they have. Either way you have a neutered ESRB.

    Why do we care? Because just like the movie ratings, the game ratings aren't in existence to be a form of thought police - they're there to prevent the goverment from creating thought police. Right now creating and selling an unrated game means you don't have access to Wal-Mart; if the government was in control your unrated game would be banned outright. Goodbye indie game scene.

    The ESRB itself is agnostic about what kids are playing at what age - they just want to make sure that no one goes home and is surprised by what they've purchased. If this report is true, that's one hell of a surprise.
  • Problem is (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:01PM (#13016675)
    Walmart (and some others) refuse to stock AO titles. Means if your game gets an AO rating it's inaccessable to a large part of the market.

    Same thing with NC-17 ratings on movies. The problem isn't that kids under 17 can't see it, there are plenty of older movie goers, the problem is most theatres will refuse to show it.
  • Re:Double Standard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nogami_Saeko (466595) on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:04PM (#13016703)
    Ya, North American "morals" never fail to amaze me when it comes to sex and violence...

    Witness professional wrestling - it's perfectly OK to beat someone with chairs and grind their face into barbed wire until they're gushing out blood, surrounded by screaming fans and such, but if you show a little sex, and the public wants you thrown in jail or worse...

    So which is more harmful to kids in the longrun? Watching adults (and I use the term loosely) beat eachother's brains out on TV (something that you hope they'll never do), or watching some sex (which they're going to do anyway)?

  • Re:Better Quesiton (Score:5, Insightful)

    by milkman_matt (593465) on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:18PM (#13016802)
    Actually this is getting to be re-godamned-diculous. A couple points here:

    1) the ESRB gave this game the highest age rating possible aside from "Adults only" which I think should be reserved only for X rated type stuff anyway, which GTA (although some may disagree) falls short from this. If anything it would qualify for an NC-17 in film ratings standards, so M for Mature is more than acceptable.

    1a) This guy is an ASS for blasting the ESRB for this, as they gave it a rating that dictates it shouldn't be sold to anyone under 17 anyway (essentially, NC17) what's he expect them to do? Now if they gave it an E for Everyone or something, then yeah, he may have a point.

    2) "or their apparent slip-up in examining all the content in the game." now I read about this 'hack' for the ps2 version of GTA:SA and if I remember correctly in order to do it you had to copy a savegame from your memory card to your computer, edit some content on it, copy it back over to the memory card, and you're good to go. My guess is the PC version required a lot of the same hacking, it's just easier to 'enable' it due to the release of install packages for it that just modify your savegames on your HDD. Either way, Does this asshat REALLY expect the ESRB to go through this trouble to find easter eggs (for lack of a better term) like this and rate THEM as well? People had to go through A LOT of trouble in order to get their games to have these scenes in it, you can hardly hold the ratings board accountable for people doing things like this. This guy is absolutely ridiculous.

  • by phriedom (561200) on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:25PM (#13016845)
    Oh, come on. You have to admit this is one of the most extreme examples of "sex and violence are one thing, but nudity crosses the line" ever.
  • Re:This is bull (Score:4, Insightful)

    by humina (603463) on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:25PM (#13016847) Homepage
    Violence is way worse. You comment on inappropriate sex. Well inappropriate violence leads to your child going out and killing a bunch of people. If I had to chose between my underage child getting pregnant and shooting up a school, I'll take pregnant any day of the week. Of course the idea that a video game will make a teenager more violent than say watching a war that their country started on the TV is debatable.
  • Re:This is bull (Score:3, Insightful)

    by milkman_matt (593465) on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:27PM (#13016874)
    Those are very different actions. Turning something off is one thing - removing it entirely is another.

    I completely agree here..

    I don't care about this issue at all but if ratings are to be taken literally then Rockstar should have completely removed the content (not disabled it) if they didn't want an AO rating.

    Why? It took some smart hacker people to figure out that the content even existed and then they had to find a way to reenable it, then they had to make those changes and bring it to the forefront, maybe Rockstar had reasons that it couldn't be deleted entirely so they just hid it? Maybe they had other reasons to leave it in? The point is they (responsibly?) removed the content from the purchased game, so without modification (which is what ESRB -should- base things on) this game rated a solid M, and was nowhere near worthy of an AO rating.
  • not ESRB's fault (Score:3, Insightful)

    by j1m+5n0w (749199) on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:30PM (#13016893) Homepage Journal
    how culpable could the ESRB be?
    Not at all. My understanding is that the video game developers are required to submit footage from the game that is representative of the maximum level of offensive content the player is going to experience, and the ESRB rates the game based on submitted footage. If the developer doesn't disclose some content that is more offensive than what they submitted to the ESRB, it's their own fault. I'm not sure what the penalty is for such a lapse.
  • by TomorrowPlusX (571956) on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:37PM (#13016966)
    If you watch to the end of the video, you'll see the note saying "Remember, nice guys finish last".

    Hey, that's good -- she should enjoy it too, fellas. I don't see the problem, they're teaching positive sexual relations here.

    ( Perhaps everybody's up at arms because here in America, we do it missionary only, and *only* when we need a baby. )
  • by doormat (63648) on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:41PM (#13016998) Homepage Journal
    however sex does carry with it certain responsibilities

    Yes, and beating the shit out of someone or shooting them several times in the chest has no long term reprocussions at all. ::biggest_rolls_eyes_ever::

    The *real* reason why sex is abhorred and violence is glorified is because we're a bunch of puritans in comparison to the rest of the world.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:48PM (#13017059)
    Except that besides the parts you made up that aren't actually in the game ("no, run away, you stupid biatch!"), nothing that you mentioned seems that bad. The GTA scene from the grand parent, on the other hand, is pretty abhorent if you consider the actions in context of reality.

    I think you can learn a lot about someone by what they do when the play GTA.. or whether they like or play the game at all.
  • Blame? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dancingmad (128588) on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:51PM (#13017081)
    Am I the only one mad at Rockstar? Everyone here seems to be blasting Yee (and yes, he is a douchebag), but Rockstar constantly pushes the limits (on what I think are crappy games, but I guess some people find a value in them). They really have to play by the rules, because they're playing so close to the edge it was stupid and rather negligent (not in the legal sense) to leave the game on there.

    Rockstar does crap like this and it makes it harder to get a good game that uses violence to enhances the gameplay (Resident Evil 4, for example). Take their upcoming game on school bullies for example - it's going to make it harder to put out good-but-violent games.

    Whether or not Rockstar targets young kids to buy this games is up for debate (I think they do) but the fact remains that they left the content on the game and anything like that is supposed to be submitted to the ESRB. As gamers we should be admonishing Rockstar too.
  • Re:This is bull (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snuf23 (182335) on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:51PM (#13017085)
    Note the part in my comment where I state "Now I'm all for more sex and less violence".

    I'm simply replying to the grandparent as to some reasonable concerns about sex as depicted in media.
    No I don't think watching video sex leads to kids becoming an AIDS infested porn stars anymore than playing Doom leads to mass murder.
    The media does project images depicting what is considered cool and kids do react to that. Why else would kids mimic the dress and style patterns media superstars?
    As a nerdy kid who figured out after high school that if I dressed a certain way, talked a certain way and hung out in certain circles I took could get laid - I can say that media imagery impacts how teenagers and young adults behave.
    As someone who also made bad decisions and ended up living a life close to a character from an Irvine Welsh novel - I can say from a first hand experience that cheap sex, drug use and violence is hardly as glamourous and exciting as Hollywood likes to depict it. Scary, depressing and dangerous would be better adjectives. I got out - but not everyone does. I lost several friends because they couldn't get out of the lifestyle, some are dead and some are mentally destroyed.
    The fact is that depictions that show consquences of these types of behaviors are more interesting from a story perspective. A military FPS that attaches meaning to the death of a squad mate is telling a better story (single player at least).
    I don't like the "it's only a game" thinking. It is a game, but games are in my opinion another creative artform just as relevant as movies or music.
    I'm not asking that PacMan put on a condom before he gives Ms. PacMan a kiss in the between level animation, but in the case of a game like GTA - I think it would make perfect sense for the protagonist to buy a condom. It would work within the genre.
  • by dancingmad (128588) on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:53PM (#13017096)
    Nearly everyone I know who owns a GTA game is under the age of 15 - whether you want to blame that on bad parenting, bad legislation, or whatever, it's there and I believe Rockstar and the games' publisher encourage it.

    I'm 21 and haven't found much value in the series...
  • Silly Americans (Score:4, Insightful)

    by abb3w (696381) on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:54PM (#13017106) Journal
    Women's naughtier bits are also less obvious than Men's naughty bits, and easier to hide with a slight shift of the leg or an undertrimmed public region.

    Boobs gets you at least a PG13 rating; enough of them, on screen sex, or "full frontal" female nudity tends to get an R. Show genitals (penis or labia), you're going to get an NC17 or X rating unless it's really short and nonsexual in context-- in which case you might get away with an R.

    Yes, we Americans are, on average, completely whacko. And we invented nuclear weapons! Why the hell haven't the rest of you invented interstellar travel yet???

  • by vsprintf (579676) on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:56PM (#13017117)

    My understanding is that the video game developers are required to submit footage from the game that is representative of the maximum level of offensive content the player is going to experience, and the ESRB rates the game based on submitted footage. If the developer doesn't disclose some content that is more offensive than what they submitted to the ESRB, it's their own fault.

    From what I read, it seems the code in question was blocked off, and it takes a mod to unlock it. So the material submitted for examination would be what the normal player is going to see. It really depends on whether the game developer intended for the "mod" to be discovered and made public. There are a number of people out there disassembling game code for cheats and finding things game developers would prefer they didn't.

  • Re:Ridiculous! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Coryoth (254751) on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:58PM (#13017125) Homepage Journal
    And speaking of insecure males, I suppose at this point I should say something mildly witty to point out the fact that I am, in fact, straight. Unfortunately, nothing is coming to mind except: "I'm not gay, really! I'm married! Yes, to a woman."

    Which raises another interesting point - the whole US presumption that Nudity == Sex. There seems to be this idea that nudity must be entirely sexual, and hence if you're a man looking at naked men (regardless of context) you must be gay. If you ever look at nude woman, regardless of context, then its all about sex. In practice I would think it is the context, rather than the nudity, that ought to be of concern.

    I think the tight binding of nudity and sex in the US stems, in a large part, from the fact that nudity is so taboo there. That means the only time you see much nudity is if you're secretively looking at porn or some such. That is, because nudity has been driven underground the only context in which it is generally encountered is a sexual one. It's rather sad really.

  • Explain this (Score:3, Insightful)

    by theblacksun (523754) on Friday July 08, 2005 @06:05PM (#13017189) Journal
    If the only reason sexual content is censored is to prevent children from mimicing them and making poor sexual choices, then why can't women's breasts be seen on TV? Why do they automatically raise the rating of any game/movie? I'll tell you why: this culture obsessively sexually represses itself. Many other countries are much more open about sex, and many have less problems with STDs and teen pregnency than the US. This is not about role models, this is something much deeper.
  • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Friday July 08, 2005 @06:13PM (#13017252)
    Clearly then the mod should be rated AO and the game rated M.

    As sold, the game is appropriately rated M.
  • Re:Better Quesiton (Score:2, Insightful)

    by evolutionaryLawyer (838264) on Friday July 08, 2005 @06:26PM (#13017341)
    I wasn't just being pedantic, it actually undercuts his argument. He says games should get an AO only when it features "X rated content". He then states the game rightly got an M rating because it featured NC-17 level content. If NC-17 replaced X, then NC-17 is X-rated content. But hey, if expecting a person's argument to be logical is being pedantic, I apologize.
  • Re:Explain this (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2005 @06:39PM (#13017429)
    "Many other countries are much more open about sex, and many have less problems with STDs and teen pregnency than the US."

    Yeah, like Africa. Sure, much less problems with STDs and teen pregnancy. Amsterdam? Sorry, but I think this qualifies as the most stupid comment yet. Do you care to back this up with ANY evidence at all, or did you just create a statistic out of thin air in order to add credibility to your theory?

  • by hixie (116369) <ian@hixie.ch> on Friday July 08, 2005 @06:40PM (#13017441) Homepage
    Indeed. And as has been pointed out many times in these comments, the idea that violence is somehow less bad than sex is quite ridiculous.
  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yusaku Godai (546058) <hyuga@guardian-hy u g a .net> on Friday July 08, 2005 @06:45PM (#13017468) Homepage
    GTA, which is packed to the brim with blasting heads off with sniper rifles and running over cops, leaving bloody smears gets an M rating. Fine. But as soon as you throw in some cheesy videogame softcore porn it's suddenly horribly offensive and in need of an investigation? Right.
  • by Some_Llama (763766) on Friday July 08, 2005 @07:00PM (#13017568) Homepage Journal
    "M is defined as "Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and/or strong language."

    AO is defined as "Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity."

    Well at least the ratings aren't vague and ambigous...

    Sheesh can anyone tell me what differentiates intense violence/intense nudity and "Prolonged" intense violence/intense nudity?!?!

    Is there a timer? If so how long is long enough to qualify for AO?!?

    And finally.. what is less harmful about the duration of "intense violence/intense nudity"?

    All of these ratings seem confused and unclear, but as long as the politicians feel better about what they spend their time on, i guess it doesn't matter if the ratings are accurate or effective...
  • Re:Better Quesiton (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FurryFeet (562847) <joudanx@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Friday July 08, 2005 @07:01PM (#13017580)
    I agree with all your points, except for a minor quibble:

    Does this asshat REALLY expect the ESRB to go through this trouble to find easter eggs (for lack of a better term) like this and rate THEM as well? People had to go through A LOT of trouble in order to get their games to have these scenes in it, you can hardly hold the ratings board accountable for people doing things like this. This guy is absolutely ridiculous.

    Since the certification is a voluntary process, you'd expect Rockstar to volunteer that kind of information voluntarily. I think they're no blasting the ESRB, but Rockstar.
  • Re:Blame? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Friday July 08, 2005 @07:02PM (#13017587)
    I think it was more like this:

    Boss: "Hey, did you get the gore level turned up like I asked?"

    Developer: "No, I've been working on this bonus level."

    Game: *squeak squeak squeak*

    Boss: "Take that the fuck out. This is going to ship to the US, and those wankers can't stand sex."

    Developer: "Comment out this line, and this line, and this value can never be true, so it's out. Perfect."

    Or maybe - just maybe - the fact that it's a black pixel fucking a white pixel from behind is what's really giving the Puritans a wedgie. As someone else said, in America it's only married couples of the same race but different sexes that have sex, missionary only, and only to conceive.

    Of course, if you think that sex is only useful for conception, there have been serious omissions in your education.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2005 @07:04PM (#13017605)
    "Maybe it's some of these weird USA cultural things?"

    Yes. Yes it is.

    In the U.S., if you can get laid in high school, you don't do anything else. The culture is so obsessed with popularity that the only people who have time to think about anything else are the rejects.

    That's why the U.S. has so many varieties of geek. Computer geeks, sure, but math geek, science geek, band geek, drama geek...

    There's no reason for a guy who plays saxophone in the school band to be considered undateable. Playing the sax is attractive. It's just that only unattractive people take the time to learn something like this.

    The U.S. school system is so broken, foreigners can't even begin to grasp it. The only thing U.S. high schools can still do at this point seems to be keeping the horny and attractive teenagers mostly away from the adult population.
  • It's a mirror. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2005 @07:09PM (#13017636)
    The game is a big sandbox. You can perform random violence if you like. However, if you persist in such sociopathic behaviour, eventually the authorities will take notice. Your character will, at best, be arrested. At worst your character will be shot and killed by a SWAT team.

    This is no different from real-life.

    You decided to inflict random violence on another character. You are the one to blame for your actions. Since you're posting on Slashdot, you're probably not currently in jail or on death row. This type of behaviour is obviously not acceptable to you in real-life - yet it apparently is in a virtual world where there are no real consequences. What does this say about you?

    Will Wright (designer of The Sims) once said that his daughter loves GTA - she drives around the city on a scooter for hours at a time. No violence or death, she just wants to explore.

    I would say that on some levels GTA is a mirror that exposes those who play it for who they really are. The game is not like a movie. It does not stomp on civilians without someone at the controls.

    You win GTA by completing the missions - which, yes, are of a criminal nature, but they do not endorse random violence against innocent civilians in the manner that you depicted (it is often counterproductive since it is beneficial to attract less attention from the virtual authorities).

    Sure, there are times when players just "go nuts", start messing around and go on random killing sprees, seeing how much carnage they can commit before being caught or killed - but if you persist, the consequences will always, always catch up with you.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2005 @07:12PM (#13017647)
    With a few file-switching & some tweaking, you can turn off the blurring in the sims & then you have naked sims.

    Ok, so theyre not anatomically correct, but there are also ways to fix that.

    Not that ive tried it or anything.

    In sims2, you can have the sims "try for baby" in which they disappear under the covers, fireworks shoot about & soon the female is pregnant.

    Ive also seen "naked" skins for quake & im sure theyre available for other FPS's

    Looks like ESRB has their work cut out for them.
  • Re:Explain this (Score:3, Insightful)

    by snuf23 (182335) on Friday July 08, 2005 @07:15PM (#13017666)
    "If the only reason sexual content is censored is to prevent children from mimicing them and making poor sexual choices, then why can't women's breasts be seen on TV?"

    Nowhere in my post do I say it's the ONLY reason. I am merely offering some reasons which are not related to bible thumpers.
    The constant argument that anti-sex bible thumping fundamentalists are censoring boobies is not the total story.
    There are legitimate reasons why you might not want your kids to be exposed to this. Yes parents need to be talking to their kids about sex and half the reason is to put some perspective on the common depictions put forth by the media (cheap easy sex is fun).
  • by Mr. Flibble (12943) on Friday July 08, 2005 @07:16PM (#13017675) Homepage
    This "anti sex" culture in Government will change... Here is why.

    The current generation in the United States has access to the internet. Now, you can find whatever you want on the internet, this should be obvious. Indeed, you can often find sexually explicit material on the internet when you are not looking for it.

    So, now we have both sexes viewing sexually explicit material when they choose to do so via the internet. (I can remeber being excited in the early 80s managing to locate a copy of penthouse, which myself and my friends would stare at in amazement...)

    However, the current generation that is in government was not raised by these standards - they are far more conservative when it comes to sex. Therefore, they choose to ban it to 'protect the kids' or whatever.

    However, as this generation ages, having had more exposure to sex and nudity, and being far more tolerante of it, so will the current policies surrounding it.

    So, yes, the US government is very reactionary to sex, but this will change - it MUST change because the current younger generation just won't tolerate it when they age.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2005 @09:10PM (#13018235)
    Thanks for the torrent link - it works. Please keep doing this for anything fairly large like this. It's great to actually be able to get the data instead of just clicking on it, waiting a while and giving up.

    Cheers to j-beda! If I could serve you a beer thru the internet, you'd have a fresh cold one right now.
  • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Friday July 08, 2005 @09:15PM (#13018258) Journal
    The part that makes me laugh is that 'M' rated things have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. 'AO' has content that should only be played by persons 18 and older.

    I really don't think that the one year makes a hell of a lot of difference.
  • by doormat (63648) on Friday July 08, 2005 @09:50PM (#13018417) Homepage Journal
    1. How many times have you watched graphic sexual content (pornagraphy, whatever) and wanted to have sex yourself during or after viewing it?

    Sometimes, but that doesn't mean I go out and rape a girl. My activities after watching porn are prefectly legal.

    2. Now how many times have you watched a gunfight and then wanted to go kill someone?

    Not often. Like above, usually when I'm done my appetite for whatever has been satisfied.
  • Re:This is bull (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Decessus (835669) on Friday July 08, 2005 @09:51PM (#13018424)
    It's pretty much a moot point though. Grand Theft Auto was given a rating of M. Based on that rating, the only people that should be playing this game are people who are already mature adults. If parents really are up in arms about this ( which I have yet to see any evidence of this ), then the question needs to be asked why they are letting their kids play these games in the first place.
  • Re:This is bull (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mochan_s (536939) on Friday July 08, 2005 @11:24PM (#13018748)

    What's causing this 'fear of sex' anyways?

    It is an instictual response as much as fear of insects and such.

    Before contraception, sex meant baby and a baby meant a significant investment of time and energy to carry it 9 months and give birth. So, anyone in the family of a girl would be paranoid about sex as they want their lineage to be as fit as possible.

    Now, sex doesn't mean baby all the time. But, we're still paranoid about it. Like we are about insects even though most of them can't do anything to you.

  • Re:Better Quesiton (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tommertron (640180) on Friday July 08, 2005 @11:51PM (#13018852) Homepage Journal
    Since the certification is a voluntary process, you'd expect Rockstar to volunteer that kind of information voluntarily. I think they're no blasting the ESRB, but Rockstar.

    Yeah, but the sex game was never meant to be found by anyone, so why should they release that info? PLUS, the whole point of the ratings is that people won't be surprised by content they weren't expecting. If someone goes looking for this game, they're expecting it, right? And any kid who goes to the trouble to find this in a game could just as easily type "sex xxx" into Google anyway.

    It's just a case of a politician trying to create anger and get popular because it looks like he's standing up for the public good.

  • huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by interstellar_donkey (200782) <pathighgate&hotmail,com> on Saturday July 09, 2005 @01:06AM (#13019198) Homepage Journal
    So wait a minute. Are you trying to say that a game which involves the wholesale murder of innocent pedestrians, gang members, policeman and even military personnel, the theft of any number of vehicles, lying, cheating and corruption, prostitution and drugs... you're telling me this game is of questionable moral character?


    Thank goodness the ESRB is out to protect me.
  • by tod_miller (792541) on Saturday July 09, 2005 @05:57AM (#13019769) Journal
    I have to disagree. I think ratings are important, should be accurate, and should reflect NOT your opinions, but the content of the film. For films, it might suprise you that some people don't want to see graphic gore, torture, pain and violence suprising them in a film that looked much less violent in the trailers.

    In this instance, I have argued previously that many non-violent adult themes were palced into GTA for:

    a) laughs
    b) enjoyment
    c) more laughs
    d) to assert that this is definately a game for adults.

    People who are anti-game-violence, and people who are 'anti-anti-gameviolence' and well as those pro-gaming violence (of which I would say i am one) get this all wrong.

    Even with a mature rating, a purely violent game would be immediately pounced upon as marketting to children. If you can somehow put sex in there, you can really show that you are not trying to appeal to children, but an adult audience.

    Hitting all the 'adult content' points is important therefore.

    Now, Postal is a bloody marvelous game. And Hitman, but postal for a different reason. I completed the demo in about 1 minute. I walked to the shop, bought milk, went home. I won!! Hurrah!

    Now, if that was what was shown to the ESRB, then it would have had a E and a smiley face. However, one time I accidentally pissed on a woman, and then hit her in the face with a shovel, and proceeded to douse her in petrol and light her on fire. Ooops! Now that kind of content is not suitable for children in any for, be in in a book, on a film, or in a video game.

    The book is an important point, we are not just talking about graphical depictions, but the acts themselves.

    I agree with the guy bringing this up, I suspected someone would, and I am glad they did. If this content had been in a game with a lower rating, and the content had been in stark contrast to the game (as it is, I do not really like that content, it makes me feel like I am playing a cheap 'playboy mansion' or 'Leisure Suit Larry' game (oh that vibrating black censor box when you had sex, I can't believe we wondered if you could actually turn that off!).

    I do not agree (or know of) his agenda, but they deserve a slap on the wrist. You actually simulate sex, and although I thought it was cool, it really is offensive content (although they can both be clothed) It makes you tap in rhythm, and says your the man when she cums. Many parents bought this game KNOWING its violence, and let their kids use it, but if they knew of such adult content, then they would not have, ok it is not easily accessible, but kids on forums want to try everything.

    While I agree with your points, the fact remains rockstar are in the wrong, if noone had found it, they would have got away with it, but it seems like they wanted someone to find it, and generate a second wave of buzz (for kicks, or, even more $$$).


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