[Grand Theft Content]

So here is the situation: In the latest installment of Grand Theft Auto the developers put in some unfinished content that the player was not intended to see. This material is explicit and the ESRB(Entertainment Software Rating Board, the group that rates games) had no knowledge of it. So the mature rating the game received before this content was reviewed got bumped up to adult only (AO). Suffice to say, this means many stores will be taking it off the shelf until the developers release a patched version of the game. However, this story is not cut and dry. In order to see this content the player must download software or use an Xbox that violates the end user license agreement of the game.

Many anti-gaming politicians and groups are up in arms about this, complaining to anyone who will listen. This is no real surprise because many of these groups have had the Grand Theft Auto series and it's developer, Rockstar Games, in their crosshairs for a long time. The ESRB is not happy either because they felt they should have had knowledge of the material in the game even if it was unfinished and locked (this content was both). Rockstar is saying that there should be no issue because the content is locked and the only way to get to it is by breaking the EULA anyway.

I think that people are making a huge stink over this because they have been waiting for the GTA series to slip ever since it became the poster child for violent video games. What happened in this situation is actually, in my belief, no ones fault. Rockstar games put some elicit material in the game but did not get a chance to finish it. Most likely in an effort to save money and time they decided to lock it away. Now the ESRB does not see that material because the player will not see the material. Then some crafty people in the mod community start poking around and uncover it. So actually I think the players that broke the EULA are the ones at fault.

What I except to happen from all this is that now the ESRB will require that developers to not leave any material in the game that would go against the rating they give the game. Also Rockstar will have bums to kiss in Washington before they release the next GTA. These are the only effects, other than that the game is being patched and probably less than 1% of gamers were affected by the locked content. Actually I am pretty sure if they managed to download the software and mod the Xbox they are mature enough to see polygons.

-Mark (25-July-2005)

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