Judge Decides That Grand Theft Auto's Hot Coffee Mod Didn't Deceive Shareholders

from the easter-eggs-remain-legal dept

Hidden "easter eggs" are quite common. These are little things hidden within software, often for the amusement of the programmers. In video games, it's often fun to try to find these hidden parts. It's really kind of a tradition for some. However, folks who didn't quite understand this freaked out a few years back, when the "Hot Coffee" mod/hidden content was revealed within the game Grand Theft Auto. This was a special modification to the game that would unlock a hidden part of the game allowing players to (gasp!) participate in consensual intercourse. It was such a big deal that various Senators proposed laws to prevent such a thing from ever happening again. And, there was even a class action for all those people "damaged" by this mod. And, because no moral outrage directed at companies is complete without a shareholder class action lawsuit, there was one of those as well -- accusing the company of somehow "misleading shareholders" with Hot Coffee. Luckily a judge has realized how ridiculous this is and has dismissed that particular claim in the shareholder lawsuit. Phew. Now software developers will be able to keep adding easter eggs and hidden content without a special explanation for all shareholders.

Filed Under: grand theft auto, hot coffee, shareholders
Companies: take two

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Apr 2008 @ 11:07am

    I understand that the code existed in the game, but it was hidden...Taken to the extreme a hacker/programmer can alter the game to make it do pretty much whatever the he wants.

    I agree that this is a very difficult area, one that I am unsure of my own opinions towards. Consider these two scenarios:

    1) Suppose that I buy a DVD. A trickster at the factory places adult content into the empty areas of the disk. There is no possible way to navigate to this content through normal use of my DVD player, so it should be fine, right? Well, what if I kick my entertainment center, and the track skips, and I suddenly get porn? Am I right to be outraged?

    My opinion is yes. So, should the policy be that the manufacturer is responsible for all content shipped on the disk, hidden or otherwise? Maybe not. Consider:

    2) Most 3d graphics are created by applying a texture to a wire-frame mesh. By way of analogy, this is like applying a painted, skin-tight layer to a featureless department store manniquin.

    The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion built characters by applying a 'person in underwear' texture to a person shaped mesh, and then layering clothes on top of that. Since even your minamally clothed characters are not naked, you're safe claiming your game has no nudity right?

    Well, suppose a clever user instructs the game to put a male texture on a female shaped frame. Using only content from your disk, you now have a topless woman in boxer shorts...earning The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion lots of media controversy.

    So what do you do? Honestly I don't know. I'm not saying that this is an easy subject, but don't pretend that it's unreasonable to, as a buyer, expect the content of the game to stay within the bounds promised on the back of the box.

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