It Takes a Village of Idiots


After months of investigating the Grand Theft Auto/Hot Coffee scandal, the Federal Trade Commission has found a way to protect consumers from sexually explicit content they elect to download in order to augment violent content they pay for. The FTC alleges that publishers Take Two Interactive and Rockstar Games subverted the ratings process by failing to disclose the sex mini-game known as "Hot Coffee," earning a "mature" rating where the commission supposes an "adults only" would be more appropriate. Flag-burning-amendment supporter Sen. Hillary Clinton requested the investigation last year as part of her plot to save America from the "silent epidemic" of fake sex and violence.

Firing up Hot Coffee requires downloading the mod from a third party and installing it, so it's unclear who is being defrauded here. Take Two says it has already spent over $20 million pulling the game and relabeling it. According to the terms of the settlement, the developers must "establish, implement, and maintain a comprehensive system reasonably designed to ensure that all content in an electronic game is considered and reviewed in preparing submissions to a rating authority." They will also provide a patch to block Hot Coffee, presumably for players who buy an M-rated game, download a notoriously explicit modification, choose to play that part of the game, and feel subsequently offended.

Grand Theft Auto freak-outs typically amount to claims that parents, not kids are the victims here: Parents lovingly stuff Christmas stockings with GTA, unaware of the depravity lurking within. Now, what kind of parents would those be? They'd be parents who are unmoved by the virtual murder of virtual hookers, but are shocked, shocked! at pixellated coitus. They'd be parents who are totally down with content labeled Mature (recommended ages: 17 and up) but would never expose their tender progeny to anything marked Adults Only (recommended ages: 18 and up). For someone who feels the video game industry is full of epidemic-spreading degenerates, Hillary Clinton has a lot of faith in the exactitude of the industry's own ratings system.

Reason intern Daniel Koffler called for an end to video game jihad in July, and Justin Peters gave three cheers for savage pastimes a few months back.