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Take Two Investigated by New York Grand Jury

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the they-switched-to-tea dept.

65

cjm182 writes "Over a year after the infamous sex minigame (aka Hot Coffee) was found in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the New York District Attorney's office has subpoenaed Take Two Interactive and its subsidiary, Rockstar Games. Reuters reports that a grand jury requested documents relating to 'company officers' and directors' knowledge about the creation and inclusion of the 'Hot Coffee' minigame. This marks the first time Take Two has been asked to provide documents directly relating to the incident. Last week, GamePolitics.com ran an editorial calling for the U.S. Congress to subpoena Take Two directly, rather than criticize the FTC and the ESRB over the incident."

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65 comments

shocker: people knew (4, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | about 8 years ago | (#15628903)

Here's another shocker: They probably wanted it to be discovered for the publicity... but they probably figured it would stay an underground thing. They apparently forgot that it's 2006 and people now spend way too much time "thinking of the children". Back in the day, games would have full on hidden swear words, etc. hidden in there, and it never made the news or whatever. Heck, who hasn't been to an arcade and seen some creatively NC-17 vulgarities on the high score boards?

Functionally Uncritical Commenting Kibosh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15629065)

Seriously. Can we please Stop Hiding profanity In These things and start protecting our children from these Fokkers?

Re:Functionally Uncritical Commenting Kibosh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15630638)

A reminder, and note on definition, from wikipedia:

For many people, the characterising feature of trolling is the perception of intent to disrupt a community in some way. Inflammatory, sarcastic, disruptive or humorous content is posted, meant to draw other users into engaging the troll in a fruitless confrontation. The greater the reaction from the community the more likely the user is to troll again, as the person develops beliefs that certain actions achieve his/her goal to cause chaos. This gives rise to the often repeated protocol in Internet culture: "Do not feed the trolls."

Often, a person will post a sincere message about which he is emotionally sensitive. Skillful trolls know that an easy way to upset him is to falsely claim that he is a "troll." In forums where most users are similar to each other, outsiders may be perceived as trolls simply because they do not fit into the social norms of that group. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between a user who merely has different values, views, or ideas, and a user who is intentionally trolling. This can lead to genuinely hostile behavior, including flame wars.

Re:Functionally Uncritical Commenting Kibosh (1)

tomhudson (43916) | about 8 years ago | (#15631525)

It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between a user who merely has different values, views, or ideas, and a user who is intentionally trolling

You know its possible to do both at the same time, right? Just look at all the George Bush fanbois.

Re:shocker: people knew (2, Insightful)

spyrochaete (707033) | about 8 years ago | (#15629157)

Who could have thought anyone would object to clothes-on softcore adult material in a game rated M ("for Mature")?

A few days ago I watched a South Park episode called "Fun With Weapons" where the kids accidentally hurt someone with their real weapons, but get in trouble because one of the appears naked in public.

But hey, there's no such thing as bad publicity, right?

Another stab at it (1)

mcrbids (148650) | about 8 years ago | (#15634963)

Ok.

Let's say you buy a car. A domestic car.

It's a good car, does what it's advertised, etc. You don't have any complaints.

But then you get on the intarweb, and you find out that inside the door is a bunch of pornography. And that you need a special screwdriver to open the door to find out that the inside of the door is a bunch of low-resolution pornography. You can't get to it, unless you take apart the door with a special tool that's not commonly available, but is easily created/duplicated once discovered.

Did the car company do anything wrong?

Answer that question, and the Take-Two issue becomes more clear.

Re:Another stab at it (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | about 8 years ago | (#15635318)

You fail to mention that the car company hides this pornography in every car and it can be unlocked by anyone with publicly available free tools.

Re:Another stab at it (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | about 8 years ago | (#15635554)

And that the car is..... rated M for mature....

accident maybe? (4, Interesting)

alphaseven (540122) | about 8 years ago | (#15629383)

It's entirely possible it was left in accidently, people with hex editors find stuff left over from earlier builds all the time in games. For example, Bioware got criticism for Kotor II when people found dialogue from a more elaborate ending left in the game (suggesting the game was rushed) and a Japanese preview demo for the game Xenosaga III accidently included all the dialogue for the game. Those weren't Easter Eggs, that was stuff that the companies wished they hadn't released.

On a related note, I read an interview with the people behind Indigo Prophecy were they said they had to take extra care to make sure none of the code for the uncensored European release was in the American version. Normally you would could REM out some code but because of the Hot Coffee incident they had to make a more thorough audit of the code.

Even though I think this got blown way out of proportion, I'm very curious to what really happened.

Re:accident maybe? (1)

chris_eineke (634570) | about 8 years ago | (#15633280)

Normally you would could REM out some code
Duuuuuuuuude, REMing out code? That's so BASIC.

Re:accident maybe? (2, Informative)

atomicstrawberry (955148) | about 8 years ago | (#15634272)

Bioware got criticism for Kotor II... I sure hope not, since KotOR II was developed by Obsidian, not Bioware.

Re:shocker: people knew (1, Insightful)

Chazmyrr (145612) | about 8 years ago | (#15629658)

The last time I spent money in a coin-op arcade, they were still using initials on the high score boards. It's pretty hard to fit an NC-17 vulgarity into 3 letters. Of course, that was back in the day. I don't remember any hidden swear words either. Maybe my memory is just going bad in my old age.

Of course all of that is beside the point. What it boils down to is that parents like ratings. It lets them quickly identify products that they do not consider suitable for their children. Even more than parents like ratings, parents like descriptive ratings. They want to know why the game is rated the way it is so they can make better decisions about what they buy for their kids.

The issue here isn't even the rating itself. The game was already rated MA. The problem is that the nudity was not disclosed to the ratings board and therefore was not listed on the game packaging. The parents that don't want their kids exposed to nudity have every reason to be upset. It has nothing to do with "thinking of the children". Whether nudity is as bad as the violence already present in the game is completely beside the point. The violence was disclosed, the nudity was not.

That make things clear enough?

Re:shocker: people knew (1)

Atzanteol (99067) | about 8 years ago | (#15630079)

The parents that don't want their kids exposed to nudity have every reason to be upset.

You're absolutely correct. They can get *upset*. The problem is that they also get *litigious*. What happened to good old fashioned "getting mad and dealing with it?" Why must other people suffer everytime some idiot gets upset these days? There is no constitutional guarantee that nothing will offend or upset you!

Re:shocker: people knew (1)

Elemenope (905108) | about 8 years ago | (#15630211)

You make an important point, and certainly one that gets little respect in the Libertarian-heavy /. crowd. However, the real issue is that the whole issue of parenting has become political in a sense that your comment is fairly naive about. The problem in the public eye is not the sensible one that you pointed out (that parents should know, when buying a game for their children, whether there are pixellated boobies in it), it is rather that the big, bad porngraphers...ahem I mean game designers are corrupting our children!!!11!!111! I would have a greater confidence that the first and not the second is the cause and point of all the brouhaha if they weren't so damned shrill about it. But they are.

Regardless, while a parent certainly has an interest (both legal and actual) in filtering what their child is exposed to, the child certainly has an interest in being exposed to the world and learning about it, such that they may become more mature and ethically capable individuals. At what point the second overrides the first is a tough question (and certainly as you point out disclosure of content is important either way), but I think that there is a real danger that content labels are counterproductive in two ways:

1. Like in movies, the content labels themselves become a selling point, and then later the selling point of the product. (What, this game has ludicrous gibs and tits everywhere? Roxors!) Where did the gameplay, story, and emotional or environmental content go? It was gobbled by the gibs and boobies.

2. Paradoxically in opposition to the first point, a parent may look at the content label, see 'contains nudity' for example, and pass up a product that actually has significant content value, thus depriving the child of an experience that would be valuable simply to avoid the chance that that child might see some sexuality (never mind sensuality).

Re:shocker: people knew (1)

Rocky (56404) | about 8 years ago | (#15630450)

Oh please - I use the initials "ASS" every chance I get.

Re:shocker: people knew (1)

Haeleth (414428) | about 8 years ago | (#15632069)

Oh please - I use the initials "ASS" every chance I get.

What's offensive about donkeys?

Re:shocker: people knew (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15633529)

They're democrats, aka terrorists!
</sarcasm>

Re:shocker: people knew (1)

omnispace (792135) | about 8 years ago | (#15634496)

What nudity? Hot Coffee does not contain any. What are you talking about?

not just hot coffee... (2, Interesting)

freshman_a (136603) | about 8 years ago | (#15628943)

1up.com [1up.com] had a little more detail on the "other issues" -

New York's District Attorney is looking for information covering a number of issues, including knowledge of company officers and directors regarding the Hot Coffee's development and subsequent failure to remove from the shipped game; the game's submission to the ESRB and any admissions to Hot Coffee (or lack thereof, really); disclosures and presentations of acquisitions, partnering arrangements and earnings results; invoices from, payments to, and termination of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and retention of Ernst & Young LLP; acquisitions in 2005; certain compensation and human resources documents; and documents concerning the board of directors and committees.

If I'm reading that right, I think the Hot Coffee mod should be the least of their worries. The mod may not be a good thing, but the other stuff looks like it has the potential for worse legal repercussions.

Re:not just hot coffee... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15629118)

Haven't you heard? Beating up your ho is perfectly ok, but doin' her after sipping some hot coffee is taboo.

Re:not just hot coffee... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15629156)

Haven't you heard? Beating up your ho is perfectly ok, but doin' her after sipping some hot coffee is taboo.

No... it's just that she can sue you if you spill hot coffee on her while beating her up. Get it straight.

Re:not just hot coffee... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15629731)

TakeTwo was already delisted once (temporarily) for financial irregularities (misreporting of quarterly financials over a two-year period). The Hot Coffee part of the subpoena is likely just to bring attention to the rest of the grand jury stuff -- the NY DA plays the media like a violin sometimes -- Spitzer for Governor, anyone? There's a reason RB resigned as President & from the Board of Directors of Take-two, to stay on in an advisory role.

Any conviction, or near-conviction, opens up the possiblity of a class-action lawsuit by the shareholders who've lost money as Take-two's stock took hit after hit.

Re:not just hot coffee... (1)

payndz (589033) | about 8 years ago | (#15630169)

earnings results

There's
the real reason this is happening, right there. Because of Hot Coffee, the shareholders made less money in dividends that quarter than they thought they would from such a guaranteed mega-hit. In any other environment it would be a case of "you gambled, you lost. Boo fucking hoo." But because Wall Street is involved, Reginald Ffat-Cat and his corporate friends get to call in the lawyers to compensate them for their 'loss' - ie, not making as much profit as they were expecting.

Look Deeper (4, Funny)

TheRequiem13 (978749) | about 8 years ago | (#15629019)

The documents Take Two hands over will have pictures of supreme court judges fornicating on every page, drawn in invisible ink on top of the boring Memos.

combine the cases in north dakota (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 8 years ago | (#15629798)

where one of the judges recently got tagged and is under trial for meddling with a penis pump during trial of actual cases at the bench.

he may not know pornography, but he'll know what he likes.

Re:Look Deeper (1)

gd23ka (324741) | about 8 years ago | (#15638160)

First I'm sure they will know what is right and that doesn't include using swear words.
Uncertainty is the last thing their case needs. IANAL but any Lawyer can tell you that.
Childishness will be the last thing on their mind. Remember this is Puritan America 2006.
Kind of what would you do if you were in their shoes?
You sure wouldn't try to hide any silly messages, would you? I sure as hell wouldn't!
Our courts are not known for their humour (but for being laughed at).
Understanding that will keep you out of trouble. Or not. Depends on the cops, really.
Jesus Christ, people use your brains! Taunting authority will get you nowhere at all: FAST!
Under no circumstances would they want to do that! Send a secret message to the judge!
Don't ever think of trying that yourself btw. The judge will certainly be pissed off!
Good grief, they could kiss their asses goodbye if they even thought of it!
Especially in America you can't get away with this.

Bravo, I say (-1, Redundant)

no reason to be here (218628) | about 8 years ago | (#15629051)

Take Two and Rockstar should have known the possible consequences of what they were doing. It was just plain stupid to include the "hot coffee" bit in the game and not think that, if it were known that it was in there, it wouldn't affect the game's ESRB rating or the potentiality of parents letting their children play.

Now, I know a lot of /.ers think "if parents don't want their kids exposed to this stuff, they need to pay attention to their kids and what they are doing and the games they are playing." That is true, and I agree. However, what Rockstar did was sell a game that contained objectionable content A, B C, D, and E, but only told people it contained A, B, and C. Now some parents (and think of them whatever you will) might be fine with their child playing a game filled with A, B, and C, but draw the line at D or E. They buy this game that warns that it contains A, B, and C, and they think, "that's fine. my little angel can handle that kind of imagery and it won't hurt him." they give him the game and they think that he's fine playing it by himself in his room, because they already know (or at least, they think they do) what content is in the game. Then, lo and behold, there's a whole bunch of D and E hidden in the game that was never advertised, and it was pretty simple for their little angel to find that hidden content.

Now, hopefully, my slightly abstracted example will make it clear to everyone that it isn't just that it was that the game had sex in it, but that there was no warning of any sort. Imagine, for a minute, that you are ok with your kids playing a Leisure Suit Larry game. "It's just a bunch of sex and slapstick," you think to yourself, "no harm in that." Then your kid unlocks the hidden level where Larry has to brutally, visciously, and mercilessly rape and murder all of the women on a particular block. You do object to that and to your child playing that kind of game, and you would have never let him play that kind of game if you had been warned.

That is the problem here. Had Rockstar simply played by the rules and told the ESRB what was in the game (and risk getting the AO rating at the outset), there wouldn't be any issue at all now. They were deceiving consumers and trying to game the rating system so that they could sell a few more units to the under 18 crowd.

Re:Bravo, I say (1)

MindStalker (22827) | about 8 years ago | (#15629136)

Umm have you see the hot coffee mod? Its unfinished work. Obviously scraped from development early on.

Re:Bravo, I say (1)

Lovedumplingx (245300) | about 8 years ago | (#15629153)

You make a some really good points about what they were probably doing. But why is the government involved?

The ESRB is "a non-profit self regulatory body that independently assigns ratings". The quote is from their website. How does that in any way have anything to do with the government? Why is legal action being taken against a company based on a private companies recommendations?

That's the problem with this situation as a whole. It's not whether the content was or was not in the it's why is the government involved.

Re:Bravo, I say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15629834)

"But why is the government involved?"

The FTC. Because if the ESRB ratings are not reliable or the public feels defrauded or decieved, then that gets the trade commission involved.

"How does that in any way have anything to do with the government?"

The ESRB exists to avoid government regulation; if the industry is seen as sufficiently self-policing then no regulation is required. Again, see the previous comment about public trust.

"Why is legal action being taken against a company based on a private companies recommendations?"

It is a subpeona for evidence relating to what they knew about the mod and how it was disclosed to the ESRB. Companies that put games up for ESRB ratings essentially sign a contract and agree to disclosure.

Re:Bravo, I say (1)

mypalmike (454265) | about 8 years ago | (#15629990)

It is a subpeona for evidence relating to what they knew about the mod and how it was disclosed to the ESRB. Companies that put games up for ESRB ratings essentially sign a contract and agree to disclosure.

This would be a valid point if the ESRB were suing TTWO for breach of contract.

Re:Bravo, I say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15630253)

"This would be a valid point if the ESRB were suing TTWO for breach of contract."

No, as it involves the public, not just 2 companies; especially if there was active deception.
Just like the other items they have been subpeona-d for that involve investors, public, etc.:
"...audits, hidden scenes in its video games, partnering agreements, earnings results and acquisitions...Other requested documents seem to focus around corporate governance practices, such as its firing of auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers and hiring of Ernst & Young on April 4."

Because Take Two is publicly traded ... (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | about 8 years ago | (#15632111)

But why is the government involved?

Because Take Two is a publicly traded company. It is not just the ESRB and game buyers who may have been defrauded. The Take Two *investors* may have been defrauded as well, they were not aware of all risks that the company was taking. Assuming of course the scene was left in intentionally.

The rules are very different when you have the public finance your business.

Re:Bravo, I say (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 years ago | (#15629170)

The problem I have with your argument is that it would take kids less effort to locate and download some hardcore porn than it does for them to locate, download, and apply this patch. (Not that it's hard, but it's 50% more steps) :) There's no way to unlock this content with any official product/download. If they offered a patch to enable hot coffee, then I'd agree with you. They didn't.

Re:Bravo, I say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15629957)

It's not really a matter of how accessible it was, it is a matter of it being on the disc in the first place and not being disclosed to the ESRB.

None of this would be going on if public trust in the ESRB and the way developers disclose content wasn't tarnished in some way by the incident; that's the reality of the situation here.

Re:Bravo, I say (1)

macdaddy (38372) | about 8 years ago | (#15630010)

And.... it's animated porn. It's not even real porn. It's a couple animated characters having animated sex. Can that poissibly be more harmful than real porn? Aren't kids already supposed to know the difference between real and make-believe? (Not that kids should have been playing an adult game anyways)

Re:Bravo, I say (3, Insightful)

kihjin (866070) | about 8 years ago | (#15629354)

... the potentiality of parents letting their children play.

I would think that this "potentiality" should be very very close to zero anyway.

Then, lo and behold, there's a whole bunch of D and E hidden in the game that was never advertised, and it was pretty simple for their little angel to find that hidden content.

AFAIK, the "hot coffee" content was not so easily enabled. So I highly doubt anyone's "little angel" unknowningly stumbled upon the objectionable content. This is especially true for the PS2 version of the game. Obviously much harder to enable the content for the PS2 than the PC version.

that it isn't just that it was that the game had sex in it, but that there was no warning of any sort.

Granted it was content included on the disk, it was not content included as part of the game. This was not something you'd simply run into while trying to beat this game. Activating the content was something you had to accomplish on your own with some knowledge of what you were attempting to achieve.

Then your kid unlocks the hidden level where Larry has to brutally, visciously, and mercilessly rape and murder all of the women on a particular block. You do object to that and to your child playing that kind of game, and you would have never let him play that kind of game if you had been warned.

The ESRB rating does not provide a list of all possible activities within the game. Your example is flawed because it is too specific. You wouldn't see a game cover that says: Rated M for Mature: Contains sex, slapstick, and brutal rape and murder of women. This is because it is generalized down to "violence and sexual content." I suppose they could prepend "lots of" to that generalization.

The ONLY way a parent can judge whether a game is "safe" or not for his or her children is to play the game. Now, the ESRB rating helps determine how much playing is necessary. An E game would probably be safe to just let the child play. But if you're going to let your 11 year old child play a game rated M, don't complain when he or she sees stuff that might be designed for mature individuals.

Re:Bravo, I say (4, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | about 8 years ago | (#15629496)

Take Two and Rockstar should have known the possible consequences of what they were doing.

Not really. It would be like a construction working putting pin ups of Playboy or Hustler between the drywall and insulation and then you finding it 5 years lader when you are knocking down a wall.

I mean the construction work is at fault, but is the company who did it really to blame? Unless the contractor foreman sat there and watched the guy do it, then you can't really blame the company with anything other than poor managment.

Its not like it is company policy or a design issue to do these things.

It may have been an oversite... Like during construction one of the workers was making obscene woodcarvings in the studs of the house (no pun intended) and the foreman comes over and says "Hey you can't put that there! Get rid of it!" and instead of removing the studs with the obscene word carvings, the construction worker puts drywall over it to save himself time.

That is most likley what happened with hot coffee. The programmers put it in there thinking it would be cool and the manager says "Guys we can't have this in game! we'll get an AO rating!" and the programmers just wall it up like the lazy construction worker since it would require more effort to hunt down and remove all the code than just remove its accessbility.

Still... We shouldn't be wasting tax money over this issue in persuing selective morality in the courts. We want ethics in our courts so it would be best suited to going after Take Two's alledged fraud.

Re:Bravo, I say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15629904)

"Not really. It would be like a construction working putting pin ups of Playboy or Hustler between the drywall and insulation and then you finding it 5 years lader when you are knocking down a wall."

Do you people really think that the programmers at Rockstar are idiots? They knew that every piece of code on that disk was going to be combed over by would-be hackers, just as was done with GTA 3 Vice City. They left it in a playable state, and easily unlocked. If you really think they had no intentions of having it found, you are deluding yourself.

Re:Bravo, I say (1)

joystickgenie (913297) | about 8 years ago | (#15631487)

If you think you can keep track of everything that has been added to and/or removed from code that is being worked on by a team of programmers for years. You obviously never worked on a big project like this. There is way to much going into these games and being pulled out of these games to keep track of everything on every build.

There are so many things that can happen to let things slip through that you didn't want in the game

- It could have been completely removed at one point and accidentally reintroduced later by someone going back to old assets to avoid a new issue
- It would have been impossible to remove completely within the games schedule and they could only limit it's access because of how that code interacts with other code in the game
- It could have been one disgruntled employee putting it into the game because he heard he was about to be let go.
- It could have been partially implemented in millstone, cut, and removed from the documentation before the code was completely removed and therefore forgotten.

That's just what I can think of off the top of my head. There are plenty of other things that could have happened.

Putting this in the game just because they were trying to cheat the system is not the only possibility and seems unlikely to me. Rockstar never had a problem with having there game rated for mature audiences only before. Why start now?

Re:Bravo, I say (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | about 8 years ago | (#15631519)

I think it was somewhere in the middle. The programmers probably realized that enterprising individuals would find the content. They simply didn't expect the level or public backlash it would generate.

The moral of the story? Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers.

Re:Bravo, I say (1)

scot4875 (542869) | about 8 years ago | (#15634492)

I mean the construction work is at fault, but is the company who did it really to blame? Unless the contractor foreman sat there and watched the guy do it, then you can't really blame the company with anything other than poor managment.

Not likely. It was probably at one point a feature, and then someone thought better of it and axed it. Do you really think that it was just one guy working on this? At the very least, you've got the programmer coding it, and the artist doing the animations. A coordinated effort probably implies that management was involved somehow.

I just don't believe that this was any one person's doing. When I originally heard about this, my first thought after "I can't believe this is a big deal" was "Those dipshits at Rockstar should have known better."

--Jeremy

Re:Bravo, I say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15638241)

"They were deceiving consumers and trying to game the rating system so that they could sell a few more units to the under 18 crowd."

In what possible way are they deceiving consumers? This content wasn't in the game! You had to go download and install a mod to view it! Without you knowing what you were downloading and installing there was no possible way at all to even pretend to see this content! They said this content wasn't there and for all intents and purposes it wasn't there!

Who Knows ? (2, Funny)

brufar (926802) | about 8 years ago | (#15629056)

I highly doubt the Directors or Officers of Take Two said "Gee lets insert some Sex Scenes in the game !!"

Then again with how hard the programmers are usually pushed for deadlines, when would they have time on their own to insert a "side quest" ?

Re:Who Knows ? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#15629716)

They probably did say "let's add a sex minigame" but then they considered how much that freaks those Americans out so they decided to remove it again.

Actually... (1)

quincunx55555 (969721) | about 8 years ago | (#15633441)

From my experience in the dev world, easter eggs are usually created near the end of the development cycle. This is when you've had an entire team coding like mad for months, then tell all but five (or two) of them to stop as (nearly) all the features are in and a few critical bugs need to be taken care of. The managers are still to busy with the current release to give a new project to the programmers waiting in the wings, and with their boredom they start coding... easter eggs.

Timing is everything (2, Interesting)

Volante3192 (953645) | about 8 years ago | (#15629082)

I'm also sure that this coming within meer months of an election is purely coincidental...nothing like a good porn in otherwise respectable video games story to bring out the best in people.

Remember, not only do we "Think of the Children"(TM), we remind you early and often!

(Sure, district attorneys are appointed, but someone's going to pull this out in a commercial plug...)

Re:Timing is everything (1)

BigCheese (47608) | about 8 years ago | (#15629371)

Ahhh yes, nothing like an election year witch hunt to get the people distracted from things that really matter.

Rockstar screwed this up pretty bad but, getting Congress involved? That's just election year muck raking.

Re:Timing is everything (1)

dejaffa (12279) | about 8 years ago | (#15629472)

Actually, no. The Attorney General of the State of New York is elected.
Reference the NY State Constitution, Article V, Section 1.

Link (you have to do a bunch of clicking, no direct link):

http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menuf.cgi [state.ny.us]

Re:Timing is everything (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | about 8 years ago | (#15629738)

Attorney General is, yes (in fact, the current one is the frontrunner for the Democratic mayoral nomination), but not district attorneys, who are appointed, and since the article specifically said 'New York county district attorney' and not 'Attorney General Eliot Spitzer' that's what I based it on.

However, I'm definatly not discounting that someone (possibly even Spitzer) will use this to score parental votes.

Re:Timing is everything (1)

macdaddy (38372) | about 8 years ago | (#15629948)

I could be completely wrong here but I recall maybe a dozen episodes of Law and Order (New York) where Adam Schiff talked about being elected. Maybe it was 2 dozen episodes. I only mention this because they tended to stay pretty close to reality in things such as that, especially when it could be used to point out the silly mud-slinging in local elections.

A Barbie game has similar - but never found (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15629417)

I spoke with developers of one of the earlier Barbie games and they talked about what incredible drunken fun it was to have access to 3D models of Barbie and her Horse - and indicated that hidden in one of the games in an intresting "scene" (in the bondage sense of the word) that they expect noone will ever find.


Should they get in trouble too?

yes (0, Troll)

swschrad (312009) | about 8 years ago | (#15629776)

the alleged content is totally age-inappropriate and should not be in the consumer package. they can put all the hacksmut they want on the development server hidden deep in the bowels of the office, but if any of it gets out on releases, it should be declared.

the way to settle this for ever is the ratings outfits to actually review the stuff they shuffle papers over, and employ a few of the 1337 to search for easter eggs... or in this case, perhaps, easter pornos... and if any are found, the product will remain unrated forevermore.

which keeps it out of the mass merchandisers' hands.

oops, almost forgot... the "ratings outfits" are shills and fronts that nod their head and say, yes, everything is wholesome family entertainment, don't bother us any more.

sorry. my bad.

Re:yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15629852)

Obviously a Troll.

The dumb thing is.... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15629508)

The stupid thing is that the ESRB's M rating is supposed to be equivalent to the MPAA's R rating. The AO rating is supposed to be equivalent to an NC-17 (or worse) rating.

The Hot Coffee scenes are not NC-17 material, they're R material. There's no wang, there's low quality pixelated boobs, etc. If you've seen any good sex/violence R movies, you've seen worse than Hot Coffee. So either the rating system needs to be addressed or there's a double standard between video games and movies.

I'm all for Take Two getting in trouble for not removing unused questionable content, however crucifying them for what should be a rerating from M to M is getting out of hand. Of course, the ESRB went with the flow and rerated the game to AO.

Re:The even dumber thing is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15630264)

ESRB originally wrote GTA:SA up for six objectionable "Content Descriptors." But "Strong Lyrics" wasn't one of them, even though there are F-bombs on half the channels. Then in the Second Edition they added a "Nudity" descriptor, even though there was no nudity found.

How careful are these "ratings experts" anyway?

Re:The dumb thing is.... (1)

Psychochild (64124) | about 8 years ago | (#15632699)

The problem is that computer games are still seen as an activity for children, despite what the ESA has said [theesa.com] based on their research. Therefore, any violations are judged much more harshly and it's easier for accusations of obscenity find a willing audience. After all, it's all impressionable 13-year olds watching Hot Coffee, not 33 year olds able to handle content that's less racy than what you find on premium cable channels.

Unfortunately, there's not much to be done to change opinions. We'll have to wait out the current generation, letting them die off before people in power realize that computer games aren't just for children.

Have fun,

I don't see the problem (1)

rabbot (740825) | about 8 years ago | (#15630888)

The game had the appropriate rating of "Mature" from the very beginning. The hot coffee mod should not have changed that. Yes, they may have witheld hidden game content from the ESRB, but it was not content that was a) accessible through normal play b) content that would make it an AO game. I'm not a lawyer, but I think rationally. I wish these people would too.

Rules different when publicly traded ... (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | about 8 years ago | (#15632180)

I don't see the problem ...

The real problem here is that Take Two is a publicly traded company.

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=TTWO&t=2y&l=on&z=m &q=l&c= [yahoo.com]

The rules are very different when you have the public finance your business. You are legally obligated to inform investors of risks. With this in mind it is entirely reasonable to investigate whether the scene was an accident or a marketing gimmick.

Re:Rules different when publicly traded ... (1)

rabbot (740825) | about 8 years ago | (#15635527)

That's a good point, I didn't think of it from that aspect.

Re:I don't see the problem (1)

topham (32406) | about 8 years ago | (#15633668)


I cannot comprehend how the 'Hot Coffee' mod is even an issue.

The game allows you to pick up hookers, and then kill them. For this there is no problem, but 'showing' the guy having sex is a problem.
Of which there is nothing to see anyway.

I can kind of understand the ERSB having an issue as it is very embarrassing for them and does reflect badly on their processes and procedures. I realize the code shouldn't have been executable, but it still made them look bad.

It looks to me like someone wants to make sure they didn't profit from this, and again I find this funny. For a 'free country' the United States shows it doesn't understand what 'free' is a little too often these days.

(for the record I own a couple of the GTA games, including GTA:San Andreas. And there is now way I'd let a kid play the game. It's entirely inappropriate.)

Priorities? (1)

KeiichiMorisato (945464) | about 8 years ago | (#15630927)

Is it just me or do other people find it ridiculous that with all the problems going on in the world, that a video game company is being taken to court over a hidden/unfinished and unaccessible (unless hacked) portion of the game that depicts sexual activity between two polygonal objects?

Not to mention that there was no lawsuit when the rest of the game involves shooting, beating, and killing other people using numerous methods. Rewarding illegal activity and portraying violence with utmost graphical exuberance.

It was probably a cut feature (2, Informative)

LordZardoz (155141) | about 8 years ago | (#15635456)

Having not seen the cheat in action, I cannot be certain.

I would guess that the sex game was a full feature for quite a while that was essentially cut do to legal liability. It is very possible that it was cut very late in development. Plenty of games ship with assets on the install disks that are not used by the final product.

This in turn would mean that the feature probably shows up as a feature in a design document somewhere. Take 2, being the publisher, probably has internal documentation debating keeping or cutting the feature, and quite possible a document that ultimately telling the developers to cut it.

Being late in development, the hooks to trigger the missions were probably just removed at a script level. And that would result in the possibility of someone restoring a few lines of game script to re-enable the code.

In any event, I dont see the big deal about this.

END COMMUNICATION

Ancient history (1)

gamesdesigner (986032) | about 8 years ago | (#15635474)

As a former Lead artist (hacking all the way back to 1988), one of our favourite tricks was to write defamatory messages (usually about a producer), using an RGB color value of 001 on a 000 (black) background. No-one ever noticed.
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