Gamespot reported today on yet more saber rattling from every gamer’s new favorite California State Assemblyman, Leland Yee. In a rather odd turn of events (though not altogether new in the world of politics), Mr. Yee found time to make a statement which totally contradicts itself. Brace yourself for this one, as the “logic” involved could cause whiplash.
“If, in fact, as Rockstar claims, these sexually explicit minigames were never in their games whatsoever, then I would assume that these hackers have violated the copyright of Rockstar games, of Grand Theft Auto, and that Rockstar should, in fact, take every action that they can to sue every single penny of those individuals who would violate their copyright,” Yee said. “I haven’t seen any of that at all, and that’s why I’m suspicious of Rockstar’s position of innocence.”
So, let me get this straight, if nothing in the Hot Coffee mod was in any way made by Rockstar, they should sue us for violating the copyright on something that they never even made to begin with? Let alone something which never even existed to be copyrighted or, well, copied? If that’s the case, does this mean I can sue every penny out of Microsoft because they violated my non-existent copyright on the program Windows which I never created? Someone tell me which judge won’t laugh this type of litigation out of court and sign me up! And while you’re at it, tell the SCO Group too, as they seem to be having some trouble suing the Linux community for somehow stealing code which doesn’t seem to exist…
And for that matter, maybe Rockstar should sue everyone for every mod made dating back to the first GTA in 97′? Perhaps they could even sue us for the user made tools which R*Toronto/NY used to produce GTA: London!
In other Hot Coffee related news, the whole intraweb is abuzz at the revelation of ARMax codes which unlock the scenes on the PS2 version. Word on the e-street is that this means Rockstar was caught in a lie. Well, if you review what they said, it was basically that the scenes are not in the game, which they are not with a copy of the game right out of the box. They also said the scenes were “the work of a determined group of hackers” and “cannot be created without intentional and significant technical modifications and reverse-engineering of the game’s source code”, which is also true. Even with years of experience modding the GTA3D engine, and extensive knowledge of the file formats contained therein, it still took a lot of effort to get Hot Coffee working in-game. If anything, Rockstar just talked in a big legal-speak circle of plausible deniability.
At the end of the day, whether or not any of the code existed in game is a moot point, as it cannot be accessed in the retail game as-is. Re-rating or outright banning San Andreas based on the potential “misuse” of game assets by means of modification is a very slippery slope indeed. If the litigation and/or legislation in this case is successful, what’s to stop someone else from coming along and suing someone else because their product could be modified by the user to do something harmful? Should it be okay to sue a lumber comapny because their wood could be carved into a dangerous pointy stick which could poke a kid’s eye out? Where does one draw the line on such nonsense?
Sure, the critics will argue until they’re blue in the face that “it was already hidden in the game!!”. Well, obviously, these people haven’t a bloody clue on how game mods work. If one was so inclined, a mod containing anything from cannibalism to necrophilia could be created by swapping a few filenames around or changing a few bytes here and there in a script, all using the assets available in the game. Hell, any game that has the same degree of edibility as GTA could provide just as easy a platform for obscene and disturbing mods using the stuff that comes with it.
If anyone reading this happens to be a voting constituent in Leland Yee or Senator Clinton’s respective districts and doesn’t want to see the GTA series banned or locked behind the doors of an obscure porn shop due to an AO rating, please, let them know. And if you are in any way involved in the mod scene (for GTA, or, any game, really), please, inform them just how easy it is for us to do all sorts of wild and crazy things to games which the developers never intended. If they don’t listen to reason, offer to provide a proof-of-concept via a mod where the player can feast on dead priests while burning Bibles or something equally as blasphemous. But, by all means, be polite, civil, and courteous. Whether or not we agree with their knee-jerk politics, they are just doing their job. Or at least they think they are. At any rate, keep in mind that they technically do work for their citizens, so if you don’t want them wasting your tax dollars on a bizarre and misguided witch hunt, tell them. After all, shouldn’t they be more concerned with, oh, I don’t know, the war, or maybe even the economy?