Hot Coffee

I’m grinding my teeth at the moment after reading yet another article about the R*/GTA/Hot Coffee repercussions, and I feel I really have to get this off my chest. I should point out I haven’t talked with any of the guys I know at R* about this, because I don’t want to put them in the position of them talking about something their company no doubt wants the official line to be the only line.

But I must say, this is in no way Rockstar North’s fault! People say that they made a mistake putting that content on the disc, but thats rubbish. If I were say, 1 month from beta and Design decided a particular bit of content should be removed from the game, would I:

a) Go through every build asset and code module and remove every trace of the content, then deal with all the bugs and other problems caused by such a major change (missing assets, broken links from other features which reused those assets, code flaws introduced by losing bits of code other modules expected to be there, etc.)?
or b) Flip a toggle in code which stops the user ever seeing the content, a toggle to which a legitimate player has no access, while leaving everything else in place.

I’m sorry, as a software lead, my responsibility is to take option b). If I went to a producer and said, I’ve got two options, one with possibly large and time-consuming consequences, and one with no ramifications which leaves a bit of unused material on the final master; I’d like to choose the first option, they’d laugh at me until they realised I was serious and then tell me I was an idiot.

If someone deliberately sets out to alter the game that we’ve developed and have had signed off, then how in the name of sanity are we responsible for what they do? If I make wooden spoons, and I sell them to a man who snaps one in half and stabs himself with the splintered end, am I responsible for it?

Brave had an unfortunate bug at one point which made him look really like he was humping a dead rabbit, until we added a few lines to fix the problem. If someone hacks our game to bring the bug back, do we deserve an 18 rating for bestiality/necrophelia? Or would such a thing be ridiculous?

This controversy isn’t about sex, or violence (even though GTA has them both in spades), its about responsibility. I refuse to be held responsible for what other people do to themselves using things that I’ve done.

3 Responses to “Hot Coffee”

  1. PeterM Says:

    I have to agree 100% with Chris about the responsibility issue. For the legit players, the features in question were removed from the game.

    There will always be people coming down on video games for adult content. My usual response to reading headlines about it is “meh”.

    I would however argue that the root of the problem isn’t computer games, it’s that humans no longer function in the way they were created for. Do you really think humans evolved to sit at a desk all day and buy their meat from a supermarket? We’re hunters, gatherers, and (gasp) killers by nature.

    We don’t have to do anything like that any more, since Mr Sainsbury does it for us. I’m not saying we should all fashion ourselves some spears and go on the hunt, but humans need a way to release their natural violence. If driving along a polygonal street, shooting pixelated gangsters and jacking virtual cars does that for us, then so be it. It’s better than going onto the real streets and being violent.

    Most of the critics of violent games seem not to acknowledge that teenage violence has reduced since the advent of computer games.

    http://gr.bolt.com/articles/violence/violence.htm

    So, to summarise, “meh”.

  2. MrCranky Says:

    Grandma sues R*

    /me makes wild hand waggling motions in the air of disbelief

    Her 14 year old grandson!

  3. PeterM Says:

    Sweet.


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