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Video Game Cases – The Sims 2

The Sims 2 is T-rated life simulation game by Maxis which is part of Electronic Arts (EA Games). EA discribe The Sims 2 as the following:
The Sims changed the face of gaming in the new millennium and quickly became the #1 PC game of all time. In the next generation sequel of The Sims, The Sims 2, you control your Sims over an entire lifetime for the first time. With the ground-breaking addition of genetics, your Sims now pass their DNA down through generations giving you a more vivid and in-depth Sims experience. Every life choice you make has a relevant and dramatic effect on the lifetime of your Sim. It's up to you to take your Sims from the cradle to the grave, fulfill their dreams, and push them to extremes in The Sims 2.

[source: Gamespot]

Thompson accuses the game to have sexual content, which he believes to be unappropriate for a teen audience:

"[The] Sims 2... contains... full frontal nudity, including nipples, penises, labia, and pubic hair," Thompson said.

"The nudity placed there by the publisher/maker, Electronic Arts, is accessed by the use of a simple code that removes what is called 'the blur' which obscures the genital areas. In other words, the game was released to the public by the manufacturer knowing that the full frontal nudity was resident on the game and would be accessed by use of a simple code widely provided on the Internet," Thompson said in his statement.

Thompson went as far as to claim that The Sims 2 is delighting pedophiles with child pornography. He said that the nudity of the Sim kids is, "much to the delight... of pedophiles around the globe who can rehearse, in virtual reality, for their abuse."

[source: Advanced Media Network]

Jeff Brown from at EA rejects Thompson's statements and Thompson sees this as an admission of guilt:

Jeff Brown, vice president of corporate communications at EA, in response to the accusations, told GameSpot, "This is nonsense. We've reviewed 100 percent of the content. There is no content inappropriate for a teen audience. Players never see a nude sim. If someone with an extreme amount of expertise and time were to remove the pixels, they would see that the sims have no genitals. They appear like Ken and Barbie."

Thompson doesn't buy it. "The sex and the nudity are in the game. That's the point. The blur is an admission that even the 'Ken and Barbie' features should not be displayed. The blur can be disarmed. This is no different than what is in San Andreas, although worse."

Thompson this afternoon updated his earlier statement, saying he is aware certain mods only remove "the blur," but adds that "Electronic Arts has done nothing about this." Thompson's new conclusion: EA is "cooperating, gleefully, with the mod community to turn Sims 2 into a porn offering."

[source: Gamespot]
The user "illspirit", administrator of the GTA fan page GTA Garage, claims that he was the one who informed Thompson about the posibility to remove the blur in The Sims 2 . Illspirit also warned Thompson, that the models in the game do not possess genitalia, which Thompson's news release suggests [1]. Thompson later admitted in a chatterbox interview, that he was misinformed about The Sim's 2 content [2].

In an open letter to Leland Yee, Thompson urges Yee to conduct hearings on The Sims 2 case:

The Honorable Leland Y. Yee
Speaker Pro Tempore
California State Assembly
State Capitol

Sacramento, California Fax: (916) 319-2112

Re: Distribution of Sexual Material Harmful to Minors by the Video Game Industry


Dear Speaker Yee:


I was privileged to be involved in the successful effort, as were you, to compel the ESRB to finally do its job regarding Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. I have information for you, however, about a matter that may be an even worse abuse by the video game industry.

The Sims video game franchise is the most popular in history. These games are rated “T” for teen, which means they are supposedly appropriate for kids 13 and over. […] There is some rather remarkable sexual content in the Sims games which I and others believe would warrant an “M” rating as to the content that is patently in them.

[…]

It turns out that Electronic Arts […] has allowed the player, with a simple cheat code that even the New York Times is distributing, to remove a “censor flag” in the game in order to make the players nude, including the Sims children. A similar cheat code allowed players to access the “Hot Coffee” content of GTA: SA. The nudity is not put into the game. It is already there, put there by EA to be accessed by all. But this gets worse.

Electronic Arts has encouraged the “mod community,” by comments of the game’s creator and by a failure to protect its copyrighted code in the game, to create “skins” for the nude figures that are explicit in nature as they depict genitalia, with some specific mods appealing to “fetishists” as well. The unlocked nudity dovetails nicely into this modding.

[…]

I should like to encourage you to conduct hearings on the full breadth of the scandal within the video game industry, which now includes collaborating with those who are putting sexually explicit material into the hands of children by making an “M” game that is labeled a “T,” then facilitating the unlocking of nudes in the game, and then looking the other way when others are apparently using their copyrighted code to modify the nudes into images that appeal to the prurient interest.

This is not artistic license, in my opinion. It is conspiracy to violate the law at the expense of vulnerable children, behind their parents’ backs.

The ESRB has always been a joke. Now ESRB is a cruel joke.


Regards, Jack Thompson

[source: Gamepolitics] – edited for length

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