Friday, July 21, 2006

'Hot Coffee' has Finally Cooled

So it appears that the FTC Investigation over the whole 'Hot Coffee' mod is finally over. Take-Two Interactive got a slap on the wrist and was told not to do it again. I think that this was the right decision.

I think this because really Take-Two and Rockstar didn't do anything wrong. Yeah, it was a poor decision to leave the code in the game, but aren't many other programmers (game developers or otherwise) susceptible to leaving unused code hidden away either via comments or just completely unused blocks of code? I can't imagine that, with all the developers used to create GTA: San Andreas, they would rather rip out vast chunks of code that could result in errors, or rip out the ability to activate the code. When there is a deadline on something that everyone is waiting for, it's easier to take the shortcut.

If anyone would really want to get technical about the situation, if Take-Two did get in trouble, couldn't they legally go after the mod's creators? Most EULAs in this day and age (and laws such as DMCA) could make modding illegal if the right spin is put on the reading of those two texts. I saw this great comment on Slashdot which really makes sense:

"For example, let's say that I included the following type of code in a huge program that I'm writing. (No comments about the Perl. I'm just making an example.)

$ESRB = "Neutral";
if ($ESRB eq "Evil") {
print "The ESRB is a bunch of fucking, holier-than-thou, moralistic morons.\n";
print "And you're mother's ugly, too.\n";

Obviously, that code is never meant to be seen because $ESRB is being explicitly set to bypass the if statement. So, I compile the whole program, with the code that was never meant to be seen, get a "T" rating for the whole program, and release the program. In my EULA is an explicit statement that no one is allowed to modify the code.

Then some moron sees it in the compiled code and releases an unauthorized hack to change $ESRB to "Evil". Suddenly, there's a big bruhaha because it should have been "M" due to the language of the code.

Now the ESRB and Thompson are on my case for not revealing the code that was in there. WHY? The code was never meant to be seen - not even as an Easter egg. There is no reasonable expectation of me letting the ESRB know that the code was in there because there was no reasonable expectation that it would ever be seen. Someone went in without my permission and modified the code to see something that was never meant to be seen.

This also helped shed light on what society itself is ultimately turning into. Sure, it's OK for little Billy Elevenyearold to beat up hookers, firebomb random groups of people, hear vast amounts of profane language, and commit innumerable acts of violence, but god forbid he see two polygonal people (fully clothed, mind you) engage in a sex-like act! Were they afraid that the mini-game was too hard for him to mash the buttons quickly enough and he would be disappointed?

But it's not the parents fault! Take-Two Interactive should have never let such a game be produced that little kids could play! What, almost all stores are required to see a driver's license and put in a year of birth to purchase 'M' rated games, but little Billy cried until his mom wanted him to shut up and bought him the game? It's all the store's fault! They should have told Billy's mom that this wasn't a game for children! She didn't care when the clerk said the game wasn't really for children as the clerk, being old enough to play the game, witnessed the scene of Billy whining to his mom and knew who she was buying the game for? It's still not his mom's fault! It has to be someone else’s!

When I have children, I'm not going to just plop them down with a game to shut them up. I hope that they have a healthy appetite for video games, but I'll pay attention to what they play or what they watch on TV. This would be a non-issue if parents actually took the time to keep track of what heir children are playing, watching on TV, doing on the internet, etc.

I'm glad the Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar didn't get in trouble. It sounds like something great and wonderful has been achieved and this will never happen again, but it's going to be business as usual once again.

No comments: