Hillary Clinton

The (Federal) Case of Hot Coffee

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For those still in the dark, "Hot Coffee" is the name for hidden coding in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. If a player unlocks Hot Coffee, the game will respond with a bit of hardcore pixillated sex. A couple of weeks ago, Hillary Clinton urged the FTC to investigate Rockstar Games, the producers of GTA, for their alleged role in designing the explicit content.

Yesterday the House of Representatives got into the act. Gamespot reports that the House voted to support an FTC probe into the Hot Coffee "scandal" by a whopping margin of 355 to 21. (Go here to see the list of nay votes.) The House vote is not binding on the FTC, but would anyone be surprised, at this point, if Congress decided to hold hearings on video game content? On the upside, such a spectacle would make the steroid hearings seem almost reasonable.

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  1. Glad to see Ron Paul voted against it (not that I expected less from him). My own representative, Diana “It’s for the Children” DeGette, predictably voted for it.

  2. I can’t decide if the fact that Congress is holding hearings in this means the terrorists have won, or we have.

    Either way, its totally inconsistent with acting like we are engaged in an ongoing struggle, support it or not, around the globe.

  3. One of my reps voted against it – Jeff Flake. Honestly, that dude has been pretty good about voting against bullshit.

    There’s been a couple of times where he’s voted non-lib, but mostly he seems to be a small government type.

  4. I am pleasantly surprised to find that my anti-flag burnin’, not-sure-about-social-security-reformin’, Bush-lovin, hawkin’, anti-janet-jackson’s-nipplin’ Congressman did not vote. Way to not take a stand, John Sweeney of New York! (not the AFL-CIO guy)

  5. They’re going to have hearings? Great. I’ve been playing video games for almost 30 years, so I’m a fucking expert. Put me on the mike. Fuck, I’ll even show up wasted to give those douchebags an edge. Put me up there.

  6. Mr. Nice Guy,
    Be sure and mention that we need to counter the Chinese invasion of the World of Warcraft before it’s too late.
    Then call the senators a bunch of SuX0R N00B$

  7. Both my current rep Jane “the Statist” Harman and my future rep, Chris “Count” Chocola. voted for this. BOOOOOO!!!!

  8. Correction: there is no pixelation in “Hot Coffee”. That’s because there’s no need for it, since it isn’t in fact “hardcore” at all – no genitals are visible.

    (For those who haven’t seen what it looks like, here are screenshots)

    The game is already rated “M” and already includes warnings about sexual situations.

    So all of this is about the worry that 17 and 18 year olds will somehow be corrupted by a non-explicit, cheesy looking “sex game” that isn’t even included in the game as shipped? Content that is significantly tamer than that found openly in other games with “M” ratings?

    Not to mention the fact that any 18 year old who can figure out how to mod the game can MUCH more easily find and download ACTUAL hardcore porn on the Internet. And it IS modding, by the way, not just “unlocking” – it requires that one not only unlock the “Hot Coffee” hidden code, but also change the code so that the characters appear without clothing, which is not the case in the unmodified hidden code (see above screenshots).

  9. Of course the always reliable Ronnie Paul dissented. I love that man.

  10. Blumenauer (who represents Portland) voted nay… surprising.

    Sad though that more people don’t see crap like this as evidence of the futility of trusting government to ever make wise choices. I mean, as this never ending parade of silliness, theater and grandstanding that is the US Congress continues, why does anyone still believe they might sometimes actually do something right? I just don’t get it.

  11. Shemp:

    It’s too bad that truth and logic have nothing to do with the issue. I would say it’s 60% going for the soccer mom vote, and 40% social engineering.

  12. I want to know when Congress will look into the matter of Hot Karl’s…

  13. my future rep, Chris “Count” Chocola.

    Ha, ha! Forget hot coffee — he makes some tasty cereal.

  14. They’re going to have hearings? Great. I’ve been playing video games for almost 30 years, so I’m a fucking expert. Put me on the mike. Fuck, I’ll even show up wasted to give those douchebags an edge. Put me up there.

    Damn Mr. Nice Guy, I just about spit chili-mac all over my screen there…

  15. if nothing else, it’s training some of the more liberalish game players i know to reflexively snarl at the phrase “hillary clinton.”

    which is something, i guess. the whole thing has been sort of embarassing.

  16. wow, that scene has me all vamped up and ready to go out, steal a car, and have dirty low-resolution sex with a prostitute. I guess rockstar games has perverted my precious little mind.

    I just hope these congressfolk have never seen any of those paintings in Pompeii in the Lupa house – who knows what effect history could have on the CHILDREN!!!

  17. A quote:
    “Perhaps what is most absurd about the accusations against both Rockstar Games and the gaming industry, is that those making the allegations seem to have no idea how the technology they’re condemning works. Had they done even a moment’s worth of research, they would discover that the online mod community for GTA:SA (and many other PC games) is not only capable of recycling various fragments of game code and art to create new scenes for the game, but we do it all the time. If Senator Hillary Clinton, Leeland Yee, Dr. David Walsh, et al, were to give even a cursory glance at the websites which published the Hot Coffee mod, they would see that it is but one of thousands of modifications made by users which create new game play scenarios using the existing assets. Given the very nature of the interactive digital medium, an industrious “modder” could within minutes create things far “worse” than Hot Coffee if they so desired simply by swapping a few items and lines of code about. Then, on top of just shifting around pre-existing assets, it is also quite easy and common for players to create entirely new content from scratch.”

    Whole thing here: http://illspirit.com/press_release.html

  18. Nice Guy. I’m right behind you.

    This is what gets me. Sure they are grandstanding a bit to grab the coveted help-me-raise-my-child vote and that’s fine. But do they not know that the majority of gamers are of voting age? I’m not saying we are a voting force or anything (and there’s a lot of other issues to consider of course) but that’s an entire generation of folks that will go into the voting booth thinking if they vote for this fool he/she will be on cable news in a few months talking shit about Grand Theft Auto.

    Maybe they don’t care because they realize that no one is on our side. I mean 13 representatives in my state and all of them voted yes. GAH!!!

    Imagine that, those reps may make a libertarian out of this moderate yet…

  19. I may betray myself even saying this, but, “wow, that scene has me all vamped up and ready to go out, steal a car, and have dirty low-resolution sex with a prostitute”…

    Isn’t the woman in that scene a worker from the casino that the star of the show has to take out on “dates” to advance the plot? I mean, she’s not actually a hooker, right? Someone wanna back me up, here?

    OK, I WATCHED someone play the game. Really. It wasn’t me.

  20. How come it’s bad for a 17 year old to watch sex but it’s ok for them to have sex?

  21. Mine voted yea. On the lighter side of this silliness – I have discovered that my district is more absurdly gerrymandered than I would have thought possible.

  22. Heh. Does anyone else find it ironic that in a game where some of your missions involve selling drugs and killing cops, some cartoon sex is what finally pushes the think-of-the-children types over the edge? I mean granted, they’ve had issues with the violence in these games for a long time, but they really seem to have stepped it up a notch now that there’s nookie involved.

  23. Isn’t the woman in that scene a worker from the casino that the star of the show has to take out on “dates” to advance the plot? I mean, she’s not actually a hooker, right? Someone wanna back me up, here?

    No, Denise is what’s commonly known as a “hood rat,” not a prostitute. She’s the first of several girlfriends to appear in the storyline, long before you even get to the casino. Hillary Clinton? Now that’s a prostitute.

  24. Remember folks, none of these idiots are actually serious. Hillary is just doing it so that she can look like she is moving to the center so taht sheis more palatable in 2008. The rest of them just don’t want to be seen as anti-kid. Very few are foolish enough to believe that something will come of this. It is all just politics as usual- nothing to get too excited about.

    Lowdog,

    Yeah, Jeff Flake is pretty much a stud. He worked for the Goldwater Institute before he made it into congress. Like it’s namesake, GI is pretty libertarian with a strong national security streak. Flake is the closest thing to Paul in Congress right now.

  25. Given the nature of moding, this is like colding Xerox responsible for the photo copies of hustler I took to school in 4th grade to sell to my friends.

  26. Or sueing Matt Greoning for Simpson lemons circulating on the net.

  27. Correction: there is no pixelation in “Hot Coffee”. That’s because there’s no need for it, since it isn’t in fact “hardcore” at all – no genitals are visible.

    Maddox has a good article about this.

  28. Please explain to me again what part of the Constitution bestows authority over video game sex upon Congress? Well, except for the “Everything anyone does anywhere at anytime” Interstate Commerce clause.
    I’m glad that in this time of war, our brave congressional leadership has the fortitude to stay focused on the important issues of sex in video games meant only for adults, muscle growth chemicals taken by millionaire professional atheletes, and pre-emptive opposition to supreme court nominees, whoever they might end up being.

  29. Mark this in your meme banks, my rep, Jim McDermott voted no.

  30. Out of the entire delegation of my state — which last I checked was 14 people — only 3 did not vote for it. And one of those, the rep for my own district (Linder) just didn’t vote at all, so he might’ve wanted to support it…

    I. HATE. GEORGIA.

  31. I’ve spent years playing Age of Empires and I have yet to slaughter dozens of innocent villagers who can only say “Habbadakus”.

  32. I’d like to post some long inciteful commentary, but my unfortunately banging my head against the wall killed those brain cells.

  33. So all of this is about the worry that 17 and 18 year olds will somehow be corrupted by a non-explicit, cheesy looking “sex game” that isn’t even included in the game as shipped?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t 18 year olds legally allowed to buy adult content? At least when I was 18 I could, I got carded and was given the go-ahead. Walked out of the store with a couple nice VHS tapes. But that was practically a couple decades ago.

  34. Come on folks, this is nothing more than congress giving a wake-up call to the gaming industy: “Start spending some serious bucks on DC lobbiests, like the other whipped media industries, or will walk right over you.

  35. If congress does hold hearings on these video games, it might be an amusing experiment to give our fearless leaders the game and, say, 30 minutes to figure out how to mod it. I’d be willing to buy a video of the ensuing hilarity. It’d be like that scene in Zoolander:
    “It’s in the computer…”

  36. I’ve been playing violent videogames since I was a kid, and aside from the overwhelming urge to kill I’m perfectly fine.

  37. If congress does hold hearings on these video games, it might be an amusing experiment to give our fearless leaders the game and, say, 30 minutes to figure out how to mod it. I’d be willing to buy a video of the ensuing hilarity. It’d be like that scene in Zoolander: “It’s in the computer…”

    And this is exactly the problem. Lawmakers seem to be nothing if not older than dust, and few understand that they are actually powerless to do anything about these “problems.”

    They don’t seem to understand that they’re playing in an international arena.

  38. So, I admit to never playing video games. Partly because I find little joy in joysticks with 50 buttons, but mostly because I don’t want to get addicted.

    But could we modify Grand Theft Auto so you get to beat up on the 355 House members who voted for this stupid resolution? Or to make your character look like one of the 21 who voted against it?

  39. To state the obvious, this isn’t a matter for Congress. It is a matter for the courts. One could make a case that the game maker committed fraud, by inappropriately labeling the game. For everyone who is upset that they bought something they wouldn’t have otherwise, I say find a lawyer, file a class action suit. If you win, not only is the miscreant punished and other manufacturers warned, but you could get a few bucks for your trouble! Tell me Congressional action could do all that!

    Of course, you run the risk of losing. But getting Congress’s attention is no guarantee of appropriate and effective legislation, either.
    (appropriate and effective legislation! I am SO damn funny!)

  40. Jeez, I thought we’d seen the last of this crap after Columbine faded away. Looks like video games continue to be the whipping boy of congress. This time lets hope that they won’t start bringing up anecdotes about Doom II and Custer’s Revenge.

    I’ll bet they’ll bring in the victims of those idiot kids who claimed that GTA influenced them to shoot up a freeway.

  41. But could we modify Grand Theft Auto so you get to beat up on the 355 House members who voted for this stupid resolution? Or to make your character look like one of the 21 who voted against it?

    It would be a pretty easy project to pull off, though massively time-intensive. The end result would probably be that anyone with a copy of that particular hack of the game would have the Secret Service show up on their door. (Remember the political cartoon last year that showed Bush in place of the Vietcong guy in a twist on that really famous photo?)

  42. Actually, it probably wouldn’t be that time-intensive, at least not compared to some of the mods floating around out there that graft entirely new textures and models into the game. You could probably get away with using a lot of the standard people models*, and just putting the congress members’ faces into the texture maps using PhotoShop. It wouldn’t look perfect, but would be sufficient to get the point across.

    *Because no one in their right mind would want to create a 3d model of Carolyn McCarthy or Henry Waxman.

  43. “But could we modify Grand Theft Auto so you get to beat up on the 355 House members who voted for this stupid resolution? Or to make your character look like one of the 21 who voted against it?”

    Within the actual game itself, without any mods, you can visit several clothing shops to buy items to dress up your character, and sometimes you get special costumes as rewards.

    So I put together a commemorative “Rick Santorum” ensemble for my dude. He wears a black all-vinyl “gimp suit” (ref Pulp Fiction) with fur in the crotch, a leopard-skin cowboy hat, and runs around holding a long, purple dildo, that he can smack people with. I’m not kidding.

  44. I tend to look at the silver lining in this ugly-ass cloud of nonsense: As long as Congress is wasting time in this stuff, they aren’t screwing anything else up.

    I admit is a mightly thin little lining, but you can see it if you look hard enough.

  45. I thought Hot Coffee was a town in Mississippi.

  46. Pixelated — that means cartoons, right?

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