GTA: Sex, Violence, and Video Games - It Could Have Been Any Company
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The first thing many people wonder when hearing about this is, how did the content get past the company’s in-house quality checkers? According to Take Two spokesman Jim Ankner, “The editing and finalization of any game is a complicated task and it’s not uncommon for unused and unfinished content to remain on the disk.” Game companies are often pressed for time and staff to meet tight deadlines; they can’t check every single file. It isn’t just Take Two’s problem; Electronic Arts has been the target of a class action lawsuit because of its employment practices, requiring programmers to work incredibly long hours for extended periods without overtime pay.
When Senator Hillary Clinton said that she wanted to know who put the sex scenes in the game, she hardly knew what a difficult question she was asking. Almost anyone at the company could have done it. And who missed removing the files? Again, almost anyone. This does not excuse Take Two from taking responsibility, but it should spread the worry around to other game companies who may have similar procedures in place.
As to the hacker having his way with the game, that’s not an uncommon scenario either. Game hackers, or “modders,” have been around for years. They’ve played around with many games, including Halo and Sims 2, without too much complaining from the industry. Click-wrap contracts and copyright law discourage this sort of thing, but the modding community hardly lets that slow them down.
Indeed, with Sims 2, modifications have been all but encouraged by the game maker. The game allows people to customize characters in a sort of digital dollhouse world. A pixilated blur appears over any character that strips down, for instance to take a bath. There is a widely available code that allows users to peek under the pixilation – only to discover a shape about as “real” as a Barbie doll. There are websites, unaffiliated with Electronic Arts (the game’s creator), that offer hacks allowing users to create anatomically correct characters.
Electronic Arts seems to take the line that there really isn’t much they can do about it. According to company spokesman Jeff Brown, quoted by USA Today, “People buy it and they bring it home, and what they choose to do with it at their home is not only beyond our control, but not something we would presume to control. The consumer needs to choose to download this (sexual) content. This stuff is just not in the game (originally).”
Indeed, that’s a key point: the content is not in the game originally, whereas it was for Take Two’s GTA. But one wonders, in the current climate, whether that will slow down government forces should their ire be turned against other games. And who would the government choose to prosecute: the game companies or the modders?
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