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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Glad To Be Wrong

In an interview with ZDNet, Patricia Vance finally clarifies the ESRB ruling:

The situation with Hot Coffee, it wasn't the [hacker's] modification that caused us to change the rating, it was the fact that this content existed on the disc and it was made accessible through modification, and was not disclosed.
-- Sex, Lies, and video games

I've been following Vance's statements since the ruling and that's the first time I've heard her pin it almost completely on the undisclosed content and not the modification. It sounds more like the ESRB is signalling modifications which only make existing content accessible, and not add or modify existing content.

She might be drawing a finer line in the sand than she can defend, but at least she's drawing it. She also brings up the oft-ignored fact that the issue of undisclosed content didn't really have any precedent ... a real thorn in the "Rockstar be evil liars" theory.

This is my sigh of relief.


Corvus said...

You did see that Ms. Clinton is calling for an investigation into modding, right? It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, comes of that.

This is a good indication that the industry will rally around modders. I hope.

I think the backlash against Rockstar centers around their original denial of being the origin of the content. Had they come out the gate with the "sorry, we thought we had that locked down tight" defense, things might not have taken the course they did.

Regardless, we're not out of the woods yet, but at least it no longer feels like we're heading into the heart of darkness at breakneck speed.

Josh said...

Yeah, like I've said in the past - the problem the ESRB just created for itself is that they might not have a defensible position. People like Hilary can just point out that parents don't know the difference ... and sadly, they have a point.

I think the mod community will be it's own best defense. For the most part, modders are really fairly mature and professional. The interest in making XXX mods is really pretty small, pretty non-existent. Naked skins is as prevalent as it gets, and if EA can show that it's just fair use and not their problem - I think we'll get in the clear.

The backlash against Rockstar might have been cause by their PR, but the core of this isn't there.

Best thing Rockstar could do right now would be to show some renewed support for the mod community. Biggest problem still out there, I think, is the negative connotation this will bring to producers and publishers who won't fund mod tools that might cost them money.