Too Much Free Time

by Mike Masnick

Take-Two Looks To Settle Over Hiding Consensual Adult Sex In A Game About Stealing And Killing

from the sorry-about-that dept

You may remember the big fuss over the "Hot Coffee" mod in the video game Grand Theft Auto. This was a special modification that you could make to the game software (i.e., you couldn't just get it to work out of the box) that added a short interlude involving some cartoon-like figures in the game performing consensual sexual activities. Now, remember, that this is a game that is purposely about stealing, killing, prostitution, drugs and creating general mayhem. Yet, you add in a little bit of consensual sex that cannot be seen without modifying the software, and suddenly there's a huge uproar about how the game needs to be banned, while various people who had bought the game for their children and grandchildren (and then anyone else who lawyers could cram into a class action lawsuit) sued. Take-Two Interactive, the publisher behind GTA, has apparently agreed to settle the lawsuit, which focused on the idea that the company was somehow deceptive in selling video games with sexually explicit content under the "wrong label." Of course, the label it was sold under already said that the game included: "intense violence, blood and gore, strong sexual content, strong language and use of drugs." Apparently, "strong sexual content" doesn't mean what most of us thought it did. Even the FTC found no problem with the way the game was labeled. It's hard to see what Take-Two has to apologize for (or settle), but such is life in a world where politicians who have no clue about video games want to make sure they can "protect the children." In the meantime, can someone explain how a parent who bought a game for his or her child that was labeled as including "intense violence, blood and gore, strong sexual content, strong language and use of drugs" could possibly be surprised or upset that it also included consensual sexual activity between naked cartoon-like characters?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    kitobor, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 1:22am


    I'd be pretty annoyed if something said Strong Sexual Content and then didn't contain any... This mod actually fixes the incorrect labelling

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Pete., Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 1:26am

    Stupid politicians.

    Which brings me back to the age old question, Where are these kids parents?
    Why do parents believe it is the governments job to protect their children? If you are not one of these parents then you know who you are and no defense is needed.
    What ever happened to a parent being involved in a childs life? If you can't pay attention to what you are buying your kids, and have the motivation to be in your childs life then you should not be a parent.
    And these politicians that think the need to run the public with stupid usless laws need to be shot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 1:49am

    They probably settled simply because it's likely cheaper to do so than to fight it out in court. That is usually the case.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 2:07am

    The real crime is that..

    someone, parent, grandparent would buy this for a child.

    Take-Two did nothing wrong in providing a properly marked video game.

    the real crime is that adults would expose and I guess even encourage this video game to kids. The limits of supidity know no bounds.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 2:42am

    I believe that the nude skins were a completely fan-made section of the mod and when the original hacker uncovered the mini-game the characters were all fully clothed. Which makes the lawsuit even stupider.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Bull Shifter, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 3:22am


    And so goes another episode of "As The Victim Turns."

    The hardest thing for some parents to say to a kid should be the easiest. "NO" is a simple, two letter word that should be a standard part of any parents repertoire. And when they don't have the testicular fortitude to speak this word to their children? It's someone else's fault. Blame someone else on your failure. Have you ever heard a parent get pissed off at the teacher for little Johnny's failure on a test, knowing full well that the little turd didn't even pick up a book to read it much less use it for a door stop?

    Here are examples of it's proper use:

    "Mom, can I take dad's .38 in the backyard of our suburban home and shoot the squirrels and birds and the neighbors dog, Spotty?" NO

    "Mom, can I watch this porn movie on the Spice Network?" NO

    Mom, will you buy me this neat video game that has all this neat street, gangsta violence, plenty of cursing, and some pretty neat sex stuff in it? I'll have to get on the internet and figure out how to get the actual intercourse to be shown, but that's only a minor obstacle. Huh, can I, can I, can I, pleeeeeease?" NO!!!!

    You laugh at some of these outlandish examples, but some parents would have a hard time answering these questions. It might hurt Junior's self esteem and we can't have that, can we?

    It's only a matter of time before someone decides to sue an ISP for access to porn. Think about it, When you pull up the internet through your local Cable or DSL provider, there is no warning label there for adult content. And, it's much easier and there's a helluva lot more satisfying and high quality selection to choose from than watching a couple of cartoon figures knocking boots on some video game. I'll take Big Naturals over Grand Theft Auto any day.

    The downfall of America? Racial discord? Illegal Integration? Bilingualism? Nope. Mothers of America

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 4:01am

    Great - nows theres another precedent

    In return for this boo-boo please could Rockstar put a mission in the next GTA where I get to torture Jack Thompson?

    I'd really appreciate it if you could include a storyline which allows me to hunt down and kill him and all his lawyer friends giving extra points for pain inflicted and duration.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Gary, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 4:10am

    All Rockstar needs now is for some crafty lawyer to turn around and sue the parents.

    Y'know, for buying and giving a rated mature / adult game to underage children. Which harmed Rockstar's public image.

    Man that'd be awesome

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Parent, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 4:14am

    RE: Stupid politicians

    You say “Why do parents believe it is the government’s job to protect their children?"

    I say they only believe it when it’s convenient; otherwise those so called "parents" refer to it as governmental interference.

    Once again those of lesser intelligence get to dictate what’s best for the rest of the nation, but hey WE voted these people into office.

    Hope you are happy with your elected officials

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    boytbpc, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 4:22am

    RE: Victims by Bull Shifter

    You are almost right, but let's not be sexist. It isn't mothers of America, I would also include fathers in your statement.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Bull Shifter, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 4:50am

    Re: RE: Victims by Bull Shifter

    Yes, you're somewhat right. It's called "lack o' sack." Somebody with some sense has to be in charge at home. I think most men in that situation also have a "NO" problem, also. In this case it's telling their wives "NO," Junior is too young for this game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Adam, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 4:58am

    Parents seem to be too lazy or like Bull Shifter said can't say no because it might hurt their self esteem. I say bull shit to that I worked in retail for 4 years in the electronics department and Iv seen plenty of parents tell me they want the GTA game and when I tell them that the game is not meant for kids under the age of 17 (which it says right on the box) I get the answer 'I don't care, I want it any ways for my kid'. That statement right there really pisses me off to no end. I blame the parents for what I see as not caring.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    mamaphoenix, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 5:08am

    It's Political

    This is just the kind of ridiculous hoopla that make lawyers and politician's careers. It's not really about parenting... It's about money and power.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 5:18am

    I work for a private Christian school and did a lecture for a parent's night about various technical issues. In part, I talked about video games and explained that some video games have content that might be unsuitable for children. I used GTA as an example because I had heard several of my students talking about the game. I even put up screenshots of the game. The funny thing was, parents were more upset with me that I actually KNEW about the content of the game, than they were that their young kids were playing it. A couple of the parents of kids who had the game even called me a pervert. People like that should NOT be allowed to breed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Steve, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 5:45am

    With all the lawsuits going around..

    maybe video game makers should start requiring signed consent forms for all video games that have certain ratings, for everyone.

    When a parent goes into a store to buy an M rated video game for their 13 year old, they have to sign a consent form stating that they are aware of the rating and that the video game may contain violence, vulgar language, sexual themes, and other adult content, and they understand that the video game company is no long responsible for any damages caused by views who are not of proper age.

    Of course there would be more to it to cover everything, but you get the idea.

    If it's an electronic sale, before the order is completed the customer has to submit their email address, type their name in a form to 'sign' it, then mail it back.

    Who knows, maybe if parents have to start signing legal documents to buy junior the M rated video game he wants they'll stop and think about it for the first time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Maximus, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 6:09am

    Re: Stupid politicians.

    Agreed. Frivolous lawsuits are the bane of this country.

    I'm actually glad this happened- it shows the sad state this country is in:

    1. Overworked parents buy their children a game that they should take the time to determine is inappropriate content-wise.

    2. When the easter-egg is finally discovered, their kids install the mod (they could have also downloaded porn at the same time, probably).

    3. Parents, upset that their kids like sex, lash out against someone, ANYONE (except themselves).

    4. The media, with nothing better to do than create sensationalist stories, latches on to this and, because their focus on "personal responsibility" only applies to those who are NOT their customers (after all, if the media told you you should do a better job parenting, you might not tune in anymore, a.k.a. denial). So, they blame the publisher, who is clearly not responsible, nor did they do anything wrong.

    5. Politicians, committing the sin of omission, follow along (as always-unless they're doing nothing at all); after all, they need to get reelected somehow!

    6. Overpaid lawyers then ran with this, despite any conscience they might still have left, just to make that extra buck.

    And you know what really kills me? They're gonna WIN.

    -Max out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Michael, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 6:37am


    I agree 100% Christians should not be allowed to breed, and America, the so called land of the 'cough' free, and the home of the fat, is almost the exact opposite of the values it tries to force feed the world. Guns and violence are fine with Americans, but should someone show a nipple, or OMG HAVE SEX! then they must burn. Buncha hypocrites.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    James, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 6:58am

    How about..

    .. a law that says any adult buying any game rated higher that (E for everyone, is it??) for a child younger than 17, must play the game in its ENTIRETY before giving the game to that child, or face punishment?

    Ohh... oh.... and all internet usage by children must be supervised by the parent. Ohhh.. wait, did I suggest parental responsibility because they chose to breed? Oh jeez... that'll never fly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    JoeJoe, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 7:02am

    Hide your head in the sand.

    You need to show ID when purchasing these games.
    Parents need to escort children when going to R rated movies.

    Bad Parents. Point the finger. Bottom line is money and Kyles mom is a big fat bitch!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    John, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 7:51am

    Re: Stupid politicians.

    It takes an village :-) Bwaaaa HAHAHA

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Pete, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 8:49am

    Re: RE: Stupid politicians

    Yes, some parents do call it government interference when its not convenient. But remember, there had to be a good number of parents that voted this new law in that others would find as government interference.
    As far as being happy with the elected officials, Thier all liars anyway. Who can tell.
    But dammit, READ THE ACTUAL LAW before you vote for it. Too many people don't know what they are voting for.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Henrique, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 8:52am

    Its is no more ridiculous than getting a list of all the parents involved in that lawsuit and putting them in jail for Child Endangerment/abuse or something of that nature. Take-two should just tell these people bad of a parent they are being instead of giving them money

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    wolff000, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 9:10am


    Not on behalf of Take Two I love those guys but the damn politicos and parents that went after them. The government should not be babysitting kids it should be protecting us from real dangers. Sex is not dangerous it is a normal function of almost every living organisms life on the planet. Teach your kids and it won't matter what damn games they play. I know I'm preaching to the choir but this stuff just pisses me off.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Wizard Prang, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 9:22am

    Another example

    Another sentence that I rarely, if ever, hear, is "we can't afford it"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 11:12am

    The thing that gets me... that everybody made a damn uproar about the Hot Coffee content without getting one simple fact out to the media -- you absolutely cannot get to the HC content at all without either the HC Mod (PC version) or a Gameshark/Action Replay/cheat device (console versions). In other words, you have to actively search out the content, and even THEN you have to modify the game to have full, unfettered access to the content. And what happens when you modify something, boys and girls? IT BECOMES SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

    That was what struck me as short-sighted on the part of the media -- that they reported on the content as if it was just in there and waiting to be accessed as any other normal part of the game's content, instead of the actual truth about the content only being available via modification.

    And Rockstar may have hidden the content, but they had a reason for that -- the HC content was locked out of the game's standard playable code because they had intended to put the content into the game itself but decided against it, and the game was so far along into development that removing the code altogether could have had a disaterous effect on development (delays, bugs, etc.). It wasn't "hidden away" in the sense that Rockstar intended someone to find it, but in the sense that they couldn't take it out without having to possibly delay development and lose money -- which is exactly what happened when they recalled the old version of "San Andreas" and took a month or two to remove the code completely; they lost millions in possible revenue while the game was off the shelf.

    This kind of bullshit just makes me weep for the loss of common sense and intelligence in this country. And yeah, the hypocrisy of whining about a consensual sex scene/minigame in a game that's not only labeled as featuring sexual content, but also contains scenes of violence, racism, and drug use is so overwhelming you could drown in it.

    Oh, and let's not forget about Jack Thompson, who's already trying to file an injunction to prevent Grand Theft Auto IV from being sold in stores A HALF A YEAR before the game's even scheduled to be released ( ). If anyone deserves to have this hypocrisy shoved back in his face, it's good ol' JT. Freaking idiot crusader is trying to destroy the First Amendment and villainize that which he doesn't understand in one fell swoop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 11:18am


    THIS GUY IS RIGHT.. the first mod to get the game going had them fully clothed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, Mar 3rd, 2007 @ 3:15am

    Mod other games

    maybe a group of people should get toghether to mod other games, either by simply replacing charecter skins, or by adding AO mini-games, until every game has innapropriate mods. Then when the Fools on the Hill decide to outlaw games, everyone will know that they are a bunch of ignorant talking parrots, in that they make what sounds like intelligent speech but is in fact pure verbal diarreah (sp)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Steven H. Taylor, Jun 16th, 2008 @ 2:45am

    The insanity of it

    The Joy of Tech got it spot on: The Joy of Tech daily cartoon

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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