Thursday, July 14, 2005

GRAND THEFT UH-OH: Senator Clinton has stepped into the controversy about hidden and allegedly explicit sexual content in Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto, San Andreas, demanding investigations and reclassifications and generally making an executive-quality display of deep moral concern about the potential of unregulated technology to covertly assist adolescent onanism.

The rest of us are left to wonder: Where did they hide the explicit content? Was it buried under the images of blood and gore, intense violence, strong language, strong sexual content, use of drugs and hit-and-run slaying of prostitutes that have made the GTA titles such huge hits with the testosterone-addled demographic? Wolves in sheep’s clothing! I am shocked! SHOCKED and AMAZED to discover that explicit sexual content was… never mind.

Actually it’s an interesting situation worthy of intelligent discussion, one that suggests but apparently does not straddle the line between distributor and user-created content in the field of interactive entertainment and gaming. In this case, all appearances are that the code in question was included in the final version of the PC game Rockstar distributed, and merely unlocked by a user-created modification program known on the web as Hot Coffee. Game distributors, however, are increasingly open to user modifications of game interfaces and to user-developed game content. So we might, one day, see the rise of grassroots machinima home-porn that grows out of nothing more centrally insidious than giving users access to the function calls that dress, pose and move game characters. It might already be here (totally NOT safe for work), hiding behind the seemingly safe and innocuous skin of The Sims.

Dog and cats … living together … total anarchy!

Or not. Remember when you were bored in 7th grade English class and you made a little “flip book” of Tie-Fighters and X-Wings chasing each other around a Deathstar in the margins of Tess Of The Derbervilles? Then remember how the ADD kid next to you with the older sister who just got back from a halfway house made an entirely different flip-book in the margins of his own copy? Seems the GTA content is kind of like that, with buttons. (Lame as it is folks, I’m not sure that last link is safe for everyone’s workplace either.)

Props, of course, to for the intelligent discussion and to gamespot and Senator Clinton for continued diligent servicing of their key demographics. Love to ukresistance for the screenshots and their more or less continual send-up of the demented and sad (but social) world of gaming enthusiasts.

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