Monday, July 25, 2005

More Hot Coffee

Hey! A new commentator! Awesome. In response to the last post about the Hot Coffee issue with Rockstar and the ESRB, high.as.a.kite responded: "It was, in fact, a MOD that needed to be downloaded to open this file in the game. Further more, the ESRB is given the code of the game. For all of the people that will be reading this htat don't know what I mean, the ESRB is given a paper that shows the internal make up of the game. It shows everything including a "sex scene" that is "locked"." (There will be more of high.as.a.kite's responses quoted later. His words will be in italics from here on out.)

This first peice of information has serious ethical implications. The question has now been raised: if the ESRB knows that there is something in a game not currently accessible, but which may later--and on a reasonably wide scale--become accessible, should they rate the game as if the content were readily accessible. I confess I was operating under the assumption that, for whatever reason, the ESRB had no knowledge of the Hot Coffee scene. If I may ask, high.as.a.kite (by the way, he's a friend from De La Salle North Catholic High School whom I will refer to for brevity as Wygal), are you positive that the ESRB was aware? Was the stuff shown to them purely in code form? I guess that perhaps seeing code, if they have someone who can read it, could show them what the scene was. I admit to wanting to protect the ESRB here much more than I want to protect Rockstar; one is a well-intentioned although oft-misguided agency; the other is a money-driven oft-misguided game company. Let us proceed to more of Wygal's commentary:

IN MY OPINION, and the most probable reasoning for this problem is that Rockstar created the scene as part of the original game. Then they realized that if this was part of the content then they would not get the M rating. So they locked the coding that contained the sex scene "Hot Coffee". The reason they would have locked it instead of deleting it is because a game that requires such an intrequite code would need a change that would be so drastic that it would require a whole deletion of a major section of the game' code. This would slow production and cause a later release date. When the ESRB was given the code I am sure that they knew it was there and that it was locked and I am sure that it was locked tightly. Then some pervert, computer nerd, that has no life, opened up the code and saw "Hot Coffee" a sex scene. To him it was gold. This problem is all because of some pervert that wanted to see sex and figured he would find it hidden in the code of a game that has lots of killing and cussing.

Interesting thought. I don't think, however, the responsibility for this is on the nerd. At least, not all of it. One could argue that the nerd was the one who unlocked it, but the question remains:

If we assume that Rockstar (as we have much reason to believe) knew what was on the disc, and that the ESRB (as we have been given some reason to think) knew what was on the disk, then should they be rating every little bit of the disc or simply that portion which is readily accessible? Obviously, if Rockstar believed that it was "locked tightly" enough, and it was enough to convince the ESRB, we might refutre the calls that the ESRB (and possibly even that Rockstar) screwed up here--given a situation like Rockstar's where they might not want something to be part of the game but at the same time not want to totally erase it, is it reasonable to expect it erased, or just tightly locked?

My question is (this is a conceptual question which it is unlikely we will be able to answer): If they can lock the code without compromising other parts of game code, why can't they delete it? How tied is this one scene to the rest of the game? I don't really know; perhaps it is tied together. I find myself thinking of the philosophical/theological implications of one event in our lives being predestined; that will be another topic for another post.

The one thing I am contending at this point: This is a very important ethical issue for game companies and the ESRB alike. We should study it further and come up with a more concrete rule of what, exactly, is fair game for the rating. If this was unlocked by some random nerd, was it locked tightly enough? If it had to be unlocked by some random nerd, should it be considered part of the game?

* Just a note to nerds who read my blog: I don't think you're all
perverts. "Random nerd" and "the nerd" are just references to whoever did the unlocking.

-- One last note: Wygal wanted me to plug his blog--the first post has an important message for the DLSNCHS
Class of '05.

EDIT (added at 5:15 PM): Oh yes. On the University of Portland track of things, I got my first philosophy paper back. A red, circled A was on the cover. It felt awesome.

5 comments:

wygz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
wygz said...

After going over the Rockstar press release and an interview between Gamespot and the President of the ESRB I would conclude that neither of the companies knew about the minigame. It was in fact part of the code, but, like I said in my other comment, was locked. The reason it is easier to lock a part of the code rather than delete it is because all the creators have to do is destroy ties to it. What the MOD does is re-make those ties. It fills in the cracks in the code to make this minigame accessible. So neither of the companies knew about this because chances are the people that created the code just forgot about it or just failed to tell the people that run Rockstar. Chances are they felt that it was so tightly locked that there was no need to tell them. Clearly they were wrong if this was the fact but I do put the blame on the creator of the MOD, formally referred to, in my other comment, as the perverted nerd that has no life. But I am not saying that the ESRB and Rockstar are perfectly innocent. They should have to pay for their failure to recognize this minigame in the code. Rockstar is paying and they have pulled the games from the retail shelves and replaced them with a game that supposedly has the code for the minigame removed. As for the ESRB, the President of the company made a comment saying "What we're saying is that if you, as publisher, produce content that's pertinent to a rating, and leave it on a disc--risking that it might be accessed by a modder--then it's your responsibility." I think that this shows that the ESRB is lazy and is not willing to check for this type of content. They are trying to pass the blame solely on to Rockstar and all they get is praise. So I say, shame on the nerd, shame on the ESRB and shame on Rockstar, all for different reasons. But if I had to choose which one is the best sport, it is Rockstar. They are cooperating with everything, including a pull of their product. The other two are trying to pass blame. I feel that the ESRB is completely over rated and that people are not willing to look at how they deal with things. All people see is the company making the new rating for 10+, what they don’t see is the several games they send back to publishers so that they can make the games only slightly better as to fly under the AO radar. I highly suggest that you read the hypocrisy in the interview between Gamspot and the President of the ESRB. And that's all I have to say about that. If you want to read the interview between Gamespot and the President of the ESRB the url is: www.gamespot.com/news/2005/07/21/news_6129557.html

Travis said...

I LOVE COFFEE!!!=)=)

Daniel-"i wonder if they are giving coffee out after church??"

Bobby-"even GOD needs his morning coffee!!"


I feel that they should leave the game M but check ID making sure people buying the game is over 17.

Michael Millar said...

well the thing with most games and I definately saw this disectiing zelda 64 was that code doesnt always get completely deleted if it is linked to a still existing wad file. It is more like placed off to the side. The thing that would generate access to this is an unknown variable that is triggered in gameplay.

Which is supplied by the MOD?

Well the mod would change certain parts of the game and is meant to edit the data (for better of for worse). One example is in halo 2 (before the patch). It had a supposed secret level (which is now downloadable). Due to an error in the code you could only get it if you played the last level on co-op with a newly made second character. The odd trick was that you had to leave the second character alone until you got to a banshee and then use him (only him!) to get in. For some reason waiting untill then to use the character to fly the vehicle caused an unexpected game save which unlocked the level. so I would say that finding missing data is not uncommon. But what supprised me was that it wasnt found sooner.

Matthew g Prior said...

Predestination, are you a predestined predestinationist?