‘Hot coffee’ scandal heating up

By Brian Smith
September 23, 2005

Jerry Zurek

You’ve probably heard about the “Hot Coffee” scandal even if you’ve just casually glanced at the news. Apparently, Rockstar Games is in trouble for a sex simulating mini-game, a game within a video game, recently discovered in the popular M-rated game, “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.” In response, politicians like Hilary Clinton and upset parents have spoken out against this game. Frankly, I don’t think this needs to be made into that big of a deal. While Rockstar has done something wrong here, ultimately it is the parent’s responsibility to keep these games out of kid’s hands.

If you actually haven’t heard the situation, it seems Rockstar Games left in a code for a sex simulating game within their “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” game. If someone hacks or modifies this game in a certain way, they can access this game. This gets Rockstar in trouble for withholding game content from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board and because many young people own this game despite it having an M rating. From what I’ve heard, it seems that Rockstar made this mini-game for personal fun while producing this game, but neglected to remove it completely, giving hackers enough room to access it. However, Rockstar is always in these types of situations. They use the “controversy sells” motif in most of their games, check their website sometime and you’ll see titles like “Manhunt,” “Bully” or “The Warriors.”

Now, those who play this game or are just “Pro-Rockstar” argue several things. One, they say it is difficult to access this mini-game, especially for the little kids. Second, people who look for this mini-game already know about pornography, since you need to look on the Internet to find how to access it. Third, with all the violence, swearing and sexual innuendo, this game is already meant solely for adults. Lastly, gamers point out how hypocritical it is for politicians and parents to bash this game when there’s so much else wrong in the world, like violence and sex on TV for example.

I’m inclined to agree with this last point of view, I think these politicians are using this scandal to make themselves look good in the eyes of potential voters and gain their attention. After all, it’s mostly parents, ages 18 and up, who can vote. However, no politician could ever say what I think is the real answer to this and any other problem related to graphic content, that it is entirely the parent’s responsibility to keep these things away from their children. I imagine that most parents who are protesting this game would argue about how difficult parenting is already, but it shouldn’t be so hard to at least keep aware of the video games kids play, most kids play for hours at a time.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard of one case where a mother brought her child this game, despite its M-rating, and later got the cashier in trouble for it because she apparently didn’t understand what it meant. I don’t know what kind of trouble this cashier got into, but whatever happened could have been avoided if the parent has just been a little more attentive. In this case the parent should have been more responsible. It’s their job to teach their kids the difference between right and wrong. I know that parenting can be excruciatingly difficult in some cases, but it’s their job to look after their own children, they can’t rely on the government to raise their kids.

Brian Smith

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