Stores drop game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" after given 'Adults Only' rating

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

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The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) changed its content rating of the controversial Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas video game from "Mature" to "Adults Only" on Wednesday. The ESRB change came after a investigation proved that sexual content in the game could be unlocked by anyone with the Windows version or with a modified console.

Graphic sex scenes in the game can be revealed if a user downloads a patch from the internet of the "Hot Coffee modification" or enters codes into a 3rd party modifier such as the game shark. This opens up a locked mini-game that depicts characters as having sex. The secret code as well as the patch is widely available on the Internet such as gamer sites, MoFunZone.com and Gamespot.

In response to this, Rockstar Games and its parent company Take-Two Interactive stopped making the version of the game with the sexual content and plan to release a "Mature"-rated title in the fall with the "Hot Coffee" content removed.

Game maker Take-Two says the 'game mod' is third-party software that violates the end-user license agreement of the company's intellectual property rights. Citing what the company calls standard industry practice to create content that never makes it into the final version of a game, the sex scenes included in the software, "were never intended to be found."

After the rating change, stores such as Wal-Mart and Target pulled the game off their shelves under their policies not to sell "Adults Only"-rated games.

This controversy has lead to major debate between execs and politicians whether the video game industry should continue to judge itself or not. Many of the watchdog groups were unaware that content like this is usually "locked away" instead of being deleted.

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