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Friday, January 27, 2006

Take Two Sued For Hot Coffee

It's the gaming controversy that will not die.

Los Angeles City Attorney Rockard Delgadillo, in the suit filed on Thursday, accused the game publisher of failing to disclose the pornographic content to get the game onto shelves of major retailers that do not carry games rated "Adults Only 18+."

Delgadillo said the company further deceived consumers by first claiming that hackers had modified the original version of the games, then announcing a week later that the sex scenes were written into the original game code.

The lawsuit demands that Take-Two and Rockstar Games, the subsidiary behind "Grand Theft Auto," one of the best-selling in video game franchises history, stop marketing the games to children, pay fines and return $10 million in profits.
-- LA sues over 'Grand Theft' game

Again, I think this is pretty ridiculous and definately wish the ESRB hadn't backed down over the issue. And this just helps illustrate why.

I'm short on time, so please excuse the bullet point style argument.

1. Nobody got porn off their game with modifying the code, in breach of their EULA and the responsibilty of the user for his or her own actions.

2. Even with the modification, the content can only be considered truly pornographic by the leanest of standards.

3. I have never seen an ad for GTA which I thought was marketed to children, but I suppose I might have missed it.

4. Lying about the code's origins was stupid and wrong, for sure. But it's not a $10 million mistake. In fact, I'm not entirely sure how consumers were diretly effected by the irresponsible PR in terms of damages.

At some point, the end user has to be in charge of the material they've purchased and how they use it. If the EULA isn't that line in the sand, then there essentially isn't a line in the sand. Without one, this will continue to cascade and effect the kind of content and toolsets that people will be willing to publish games with ... as already evident with Indigo Prophecy and The Movies.

So, thanks again to the ESRB for creating this kind of hole for people to drive lawsuits through. Score one for censorship ... because self-censorship is always the most efficient method.

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