Kids out of the pool

July 24, 2005

THE MAKERS of the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas have no excuse. An animated sex scene exposed by using downloadable keycodes or a hacker's modification program was there all along on the game disk, just waiting to be tapped. Software developer Rockstar Games should have cleaned up its act before scoring the game onto computer disks by the millions.

Grand Theft Auto didn't need the extra attempt at titillation - it was the best-selling game of 2004. And the software industry didn't need the threat of blanket punishment - government oversight - because of this one rogue bit of programming. In fact, the industry's standards board did, finally, work: After the sexual content, which had been hidden from the board, was brought to light, it rightly revised the game's rating to adults-only. In the future, the board should ask to have access to every frame of a game rather than just relying on the rolling-film-style version game-makers usually submit.

We would argue that a game in which players earn "respect" points for killing police officers and women while also stealing cars, shooting down helicopters with a rocket launcher and participating in other mayhem should already be labeled adults-only.

But its warning label did list that content; it's the surprise that shocks. So much prurience - and it wasn't enough?

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