Monday, July 18, 2005

Mods, Ratings, and Video Games

This is not Rochester related at all. So if that's all you like, feel free to leave and come back for a Rochester related post later in the day. Right now I want to talk about Hot Coffee.

I used to be a hard-core video game player. If I had the time, I'd likely still be one. Time gets short, things take priority, and now my XBox sees more DVDs than games, my PC's video card drivers are outdates, and my Dreamcast lies in the basement, unpowered and unloved.

Still, things like this "Hot Coffee" mod for the new Grand Theft Auto game gets me upset. I'm not going to argue back and forth on who needs to be responsible for this mess. To be honest, in this case it depends on a lot of things. If "Hot Coffee" is merely some code that unlocked hidden content, I believe Rockstar (the games developer) should get hogtied, tarred, and feathered. For two reasons: this is a game that is fairly risque in the first place. We're talking about killing cops, selling drugs, and beating women. When you are being controversial, the last thing you want to do is hide more controversial things in your code.

It's one thing to create a game that is risque, present it for a rating, get a rating, and go on your happy way. That turns bad when later people find things that could alter your rating even more. It becomes a trust issue. As a parent, I want to know that the rating on the package is significant. In this case, Rockstar might have compromised that trust.

However, if this is a mod, then parents just have to know what their kid is doing. Well, parents need to know what their kid is doing anyway. And if you're letting your child play any Grand Theft Auto game, I'd seriously consider that poor parenting. These games, while well crafted, are horribly corrupt things, without any redeeming characters. They make the Godfather look like a Disney movie.

So the bottom line for me is that this is really about the Game Ratings System. Someone isn't doing their job when it comes to controlling access to these games. Whether it is deceiving the raters, or not paying attention to what your kid has, the bottom line is that this problem won't go away until people care enough to know more about the problem.

Also I'd like to add that The Christian Science Monitor is one of the best sources of news available in the United States. Don't let the name fool you. There isn't any kind of religion in their reporting. They also have some fantastic international coverage. The article linked to above is probably one of the most fair I've read on a subject that most journalists use to play on the fears of the parents.


Anonymous said...

What kind of parent thinks it's OK for their kids to kill cops, but not to have sex?!?!