Video Game Cases – Grand Theft Auto “Hot
The Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series is one of the most profitable
gaming franchises in America. Well-known for both its innovative
play and its extremely violent content, it has won several important
The series is developed by Rockstar and published by Take Two.
The latest game in the series is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (GTA:
SA). The developer Rockstar describes the game's content as the
Five years ago Carl Johnson escaped from
the pressures of life in Los Santos, San Andreas... a city tearing
itself apart with gang trouble, drugs and corruption. Where filmstars
and millionaires do their best to avoid the dealers and gangbangers.Now,
it's the early 90s. Carl's got to go home. His mother has been murdered,
his family has fallen apart and his childhood friends are all heading
On his return to the neighborhood, a couple of corrupt cops frame
him for homicide. CJ is forced on a journey that takes him across
the entire state of San Andreas, to save his family and to take
control of the streets.
Liberty City. Vice City. Now San Andreas, a new chapter in the
In July 2005, the Dutch modder Patrick Wildenborg released a hack
- Hot Coffee - which activates a previously inaccesible sex mini-game
The original hack did not feature any nudity, but a mod based on
Wildenborg's hack, which was released later, replaces game textures
with flesh-toned bitmaps .
The Hot Coffee affair was widely reported both in gaming as well
as mainstream media .
Rockstar released a press statment in which they rejected any responsibility
for the Hot Coffee mod .
Hillary Clinton launched an investigation of the Hot Coffee affair:
A statement distributed by the Senator's
office this afternoon sets the scene, stating that "following
recent reports revealing that the video game Grand Theft Auto: San
Andreas has graphic pornographic content which may be unlocked by
following instructions on the Internet, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
will hold a press conference to discuss legislative solutions to
keep inappropriate video game content out of the hands of young
people." The statement makes no mention of asking the FTC to
step in, but sources tell GameSpot that this request will be the
centerpiece of the Senator's plea tomorrow.
Following Senator Clinton's involvement, Jack Thompson sent an
open letter to various politicians and media. His letter is a sharp
attack against the ESA
(Entertainment Software Association) and their president Doug Lowenstein,
as seen in this excerpt from a Gamespot
However, it's the current kerfuffle over
an M-for-Mature-rated game that spurred Thompson's letter. Addressed
to an assortment of developers and publishers ranging from Electronic
Arts to id Software, the latter of which Thompson partly blames
for the Columbine massacre, the letter blasts "the inept fashion
in which ESA has 'managed' the 'Hot Coffee' mod scandal... Doug
Lowenstein could have prevented what is going to happen today, but
he preferred to shoot the messengers."
Thompson had similarly sharp words on the ESA's defense that
the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which says "congress
shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech," prohibits
game censorship. Said Thompson, "Doug Lowenstein embarrasses
each and every one of you when he holds forth about what the 'Founders'
intended when they drafted the Bill of Rights [the first 10 amendments
to the Constitution]. For Doug, the Founders are GTA's Tommy Vercetti
and Carl Johnson. Doug never met a pixilated prostitute he didn't
like, and I'm sure James Madison would be impressed."
At one point, Thompson tries to win ESA members over to his side.
"If the ESA wants as its president a thug who demonizes critics
of your industry's criminal, frauduelnt [sic] excesses, thereby
earning their wrath and their determination, then by all means
keep Mr. Lowenstein at the helm." Later, he took a blunter
approach. "[Lowenstein's] extremism has painted a bullseye
on your industry. Doug Lowenstein has the brush and [GTA publisher]
Take-Two has provided the blood red paint...get rid of this highly-paid
thug and replace him with someone with sense."
Under the public pressure by people like Senator Clinton, the ESRB
decided to change their rating system, so that all the content of
a game disc, even if not accessible, must now be submitted to the
There was no misquoting Patricia Vance,
president of the ESRB. In a sternly worded statement on the ESRB
site, she said "we have concluded that sexually explicit material
exists in a fully rendered, unmodified form on the final discs of
all three platform versions of the game (i.e., PC CD-ROM, Xbox,
and PS2)." She also had harsh words for Take-Two. "Considering
the existence of the undisclosed and highly pertinent content on
the final discs, compounded by the broad distribution of the third
party modification, the credibility and utility of the initial ESRB
rating has been seriously undermined," she said. "Going
forward, the ESRB will now require all game publishers to submit
any pertinent content shipped in final product even if is not intended
to ever be accessed during game play, or remove it from the final
This resulted in a rerating of GTA:SA to AO .
Further, the game was banned in Australia .
Thompson later claimed that not only GTA:SA contained a sex mini-game,
but that similar content can be found in GTA: Vice City too:
But this e-mail [by Thompson], addressed
to ESRB President Patricia Vance, is titled "Kiss the ESRB
Goodbye, and starts out with the following:
"The video game enthusiasts' web site, www.gamepolitics.com
is now reporting, today, that hidden sex scenes are also contained
on Take-Two/Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. This is the
same news site that broke the "Hot Coffee mod" story
re San Andreas, so it has proven itself reliable. Read all about
it at the above-noted site right this minute...The significance
of this is huge..."
It does not appear that GamePolitics had such a comment on their
site, and there is absolutely no evidence of a hidden sex minigame
in Vice City ,
– Debate intensifies over Hot Coffee sex in GTA
– Hot Coffee Mod
– GTA San Andreas Hot Coffee Saga Goes Mainstream
– Rockstar Games blames Hot Coffee on hackers
– Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Rating Changed to Adults Only
– San Andreas Banned Down Under
– Jack Thompson Hypes GamePolitics.... Thanks, But No Thanks.
– Jack Thompson (attorney)