Grand Theft Auto (GTA) has always been a franchise that has worked around the issue. One event in the franchise’s history, however, sparked a major response from families and lawmakers. The issue centred on a protected file in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. While the developers never meant for the files to be discovered, the “Hot Coffee” mod brought them to the public’s attention.
What Caused The Controversy?
The locked files were effectively a mini-game based on the connection system in San Andreas. The game allows players to slowly romance a number of women before returning to their homes. Players could utilise a variety of button instructions to accomplish various sexual positions with the mod. While this wasn’t the first time the series had incorporated sexual or violent content, the fact that such an explicit and interactive mechanic was buried within the game drew a huge response from the audience.
In addition to worries about violence, the “Hot Coffee” mod added sexual content to the mix, prompting further criticism of Rockstar and the ESRB. Part of the problem stemmed from Rockstar’s initial claim that the files were not locked and were originally removed from the game, despite evidence to the contrary.
The Involvement Of Government and The Actions That Followed.
Government authorities eventually became engaged. Many people demanded that the game be given the highest possible rating, which resulted in an unexpected turn of events when an 85-year-old woman launched a class-action lawsuit against Rockstar and the game’s producer. The lawsuit alleged the corporations were guilty of deception, false advertising, and fraud.
Senators Clinton, Lieberman, and Bayh introduced legislation in 2005 that called for a federal mandate of the ESRB’s rating system. While rating systems had always been implemented, the government would now be responsible for protecting minors from increasingly dangerous content. Following a court ruling, the businesses were required to show the ESRB rating on game boxes and to mention content linked to the rating in any advertising for the game.
The Final Outcome and Its Role In The Gaming History
Finally, Rockstar re-released GTA: San Andreas with the controversial content removed, prompting the ESRB to downgrade the game to Mature. Due to the debate, the series was able to maintain the game in circulation and even see increased popularity. While it’s unlikely that the matter would be addressed in the game’s remaster, the “Hot Coffee” mod debate played a significant role in gaming history. The incident prompted numerous modifications to the American and Australian video game classification systems, as well as increased outside interest in the effects of video games.