ESRB Slaps GTA: San Andreas with AO Rating


| Comments (27) | Views (21)

Today the ESRB changed its rating for Rockstar's controversial Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas video game, slapping it with an Adults Only (AO) rating after investigating the source of the "hot coffee mod" that surfaced only recently.

"Considering the existence of the undisclosed and highly pertinent content on the final discs, compounded by the broad distribution of the third party modification, the credibility and utility of the initial ESRB rating has been seriously undermined." Patricia Vance, President - ESRB

Production of the current version of the game has been suspended, with a new version of the game expected to be released later this year with the controversial code removed.

27 Comments

Zengief July 20, 2005 6:36 PM

It was expected.

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EvilHayama July 20, 2005 7:55 PM

Recall and rerate, I thought so... Rockstar have apparently offered to replace existing stock with a hotcoffee-less version too, which will be M-rated. That's probably the most likely thing to happen. There's also a patch coming out to remove the content from the PC version.

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This is an absurd decision, although perhaps the correct one. Arguably, the game should have received the AO rating based on the originally playable contents, but to change its rating based on a MOD is nothing short of reactionary. Will removing the content that was exploited by the MOD really make the game more appropriate for children? Really?

Blows me away how many parents seem to think that M-17 is OK for their 14 year old, but would never consider letting them play an AO game. Is the uncut version of Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude really worse and more worthy of restriction than Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas? Really?

Eye of the beholder. Buyer beware. Read the fine print. Try it (yourself), before you buy it (for your kid).

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Can't say i'm dissapointed. i'm glad this day has come. = )

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I have the game for PS2. It's not that controversial. Mortal Combat was more controversial in it's day when it came out. They should just ban Hot Coffe downloads or take it off the computer.

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Wow, I wasn't really expecting this development, but I know it doesn't really mean anything, except that the AO rating will continue to be a kiss of death since Rockstar doesn't feel like breaking it.

Timmy: You can't "ban" things like that from the internet.

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Kristofski July 20, 2005 9:21 PM

What's the hot coffee thing? My friend at uni has grand theft auto, and I have great fun driving round crashing into things (I can't drive on computers)

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TornadoTK July 20, 2005 10:26 PM

This just proves how stupid America has become. How come gang-related violence isn't controversial? Because it's REAL?

Congratulations, ESRB. You just sold millions of AO-rated copies to kids that potentially reach to the minimum of 6 and 7 years old.

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scramble July 20, 2005 10:44 PM

It's pretty amazing what some video game industries get away with.

What's even more amazing is that games such as this are shelved next to games rated "Everyone" in video game stores. It's absolutely disgusting what young kids could have access to.

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Actually, scramble, as long as GTA is rated AO it won't be on ANY shelves kids have access to. In America, only stores that don't allow children (adult novelty stores, et cetera) sell AO games. I have never even heard of a retailer that sells AO games and allows children even inside the store, and I KNOW that both WalMart and Target flatly do not sell AO rated games....so fortunately for parents that can't keep tabs on what their kids are buying, as long as GTA is AO, anyone that shouldn't be buying it will have a very hard time doing so.

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scramble:

Actually, the standards of video games are down right Puritan compared to what has been done in books, and movies.

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EvilHayama July 21, 2005 3:13 AM

Aaron: They have admitted that there is sexual content in all versions of the game, albeit not accessible in normal play. The mod allows you to access this already existing content. In my view having the content there but cut out was playing with fire. It's like having a hidden porn pic on the disk somewhere.

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Vincent July 21, 2005 3:55 AM

The Hot Coffee Mod is done by some Dutch guy (He said it was only a fun mod, never expected this).

I think the decision is a good one, but it already had been labeled AO. I actually don't understand why the rating AO is not from 16+. In the UK they're complaining about the number of teenage mothers, but lowering the age for seeing violence and sex seems out of the question. Here in the Netherlands we have labels for 'explicit lyrics', 'violence', 'sex', etc. Parents can decide exactly what their children are allowed to see. How's it done in the US? With age-diffrences?

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cheeseburglar July 21, 2005 6:55 AM

So it's ok to go around on a major gun rampage shooting the heads off everyone that gets in your way, including the cops, and it's ok to run around in a gimp suit wielding a massive purple, erm, sex-aid but it's not acceptable to show a couple of (badly) computer generated people doing what is the most natural thing in the world.
America, you need to get your priorities right, make love not war!

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BlinkOk July 21, 2005 8:41 AM

watch ebay for copies of hot-coffee mod GTA games

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GTA series has always had a target on it. If you have a target on you, it's best not to call attention to yourself.

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SQWarlock July 21, 2005 9:06 AM

The ESRB would have never slapped an AO rating on GTA if it weren't for the politicians and soccer moms breathing down their necks. I'm 20 years old and have been playing video games practically my entire life. I have never once exhibited violent behavior or sexual deviance that could be related to video games. Granted me and my friends would do mock Mortal Kombat matches as kids, or maybe we'd play shoot 'em up with water pistols, but no one ever got hurt or killed because of it. If parents don't want their kids playing these kinds of games, then they either need to NOT BUY THEM or pay attention to what their children are playing. The fact of the matter is, video games are getting policed while other forms of art and entertainment are not. Most politicians and people over 35 see video games as a child's play thing and not a form of expression and art.

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I don't think it's so much as parents don't know what there kids are playing as it is they just don't care. All the kids I know who have this game(including my younger brother) have parents who know all about the game and don't care that there playing it. My cousin's dad bought the game for him because he knew it was violent and though it would be fun.

With what most TV shows and movies get away with, It's surprising you don't hear people complaning about those

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I totally agree with you SQWarlock. I am 21 and have had the same experience.

The rating system the ESRB has in place is not without faults but cannot be entirely blamed. While a game is rated M, it does give an explanation of the content on the back cover ("violence, sexual content, strong language", etc.) much in the same way feature films are rated. It's up to the parent to read the fine print.

My opinion is that parents really need to have a more active role in what they are buying for their children. If a 9 year old requests GTA for his/her birthday and the parent does not give it any thought because "it's just a game" then they could not be anymore wrong. It is up to them to investigate exactly what they are purchasing for their child much in the same way they should do for movies and music.

What irks me the most is that these are the same people who wanted a rating system. Now they have it but since they are not doing their jobs as parents then it is up to the ESRB to police their children which is just ridiculous. If they had been more responsible then the video games would have never ended up in their child's hands.

The guilty parties in this controversy are the parents and Rockstar. How could Rockstar not know that this was bound to happen? There has to be a fall guy in this somwhere. It is mind boggoling to think that the developers left this in without considering what the mods would unlock. At the very leats they should have removed it from the PC version.

Congratulations politicians and parents of America. You have just proven that you are a collective failure as parents and quite possibly are the most idiotic people on this planet. I'm sure every other country where this game was released is laughing at the level of stupidity exhibited by these people.

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Honestly what will this accomplish? The game has been out for almost 1 year and almost every gamer, young and old, has played it. It's not like everyone will mod their game to view the LOCKED sexual content is it?

These parents really get on my nerves. The rating M is listed as 17 and over. Explain what your 11 year-old is doing with that game that YOU purchased for him! These children were given the game by friends who smuggled it in from somewhere in the black market. Their own parents allowed this material in their home.

GTA is a high profile game and has always been a source for controversy. This action basically sends the message that it's ok for kids to play games involving shootings, gang related violence, hookers, pimps, drugs, destruction, strong language, etc. but the line is drawn at sex.

Someone please enlighten me as to how that makes any sense.

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scarfist July 21, 2005 5:49 PM

All of you who are confused at why this happens in America can go and research information on Tipper Gore and her rants about the evils of music. This mentality has been going on since I was a kid and it never changes. There are tons of movies that have extremely nasty stuff going on that do not end up with more then an "R" rating. So, video games are being used as a scapegoat right now in order to fuel political agenda. It all comes down to freedom of expression and responsiblity of the parental powers in this country. Our country lays blame on everything but themselves as individuals. It's such a backwards way of thinking.

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Personally, I think the entire thing is stupid. There have been alot of games in the past with nudity on them... I can find SEVERAL on super nintendo and sega genesis, and NOW they complain about one? its the dumbest thing in the world

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has anyone played God of War for PS2? while not shown there is a bonus mini game in the beginning of the game. The scene shows two half naked women on a bed. as the player's character, kronos, apraoches the two the player can hit the interact button. at that point the camera zooms into the night stand and as you push button combos the night stand rocks, slow at first and then fast and fast as you push more buttons in combo. at the end you are rewarded with life powerups. I was shocked when i saw this but then again it is one of the coolest things i have seen in a video game!

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I wonder... do you think that maybe, Maybe, they shouldnt have put it in the game at all? Instead, if they were really determined to release that kinda stuff, make it a patch and stick it on a website. Theyve probably lost millions by having it taken off the public shelves!

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Xalioniaf August 1, 2005 12:27 PM

Just to clarify, the patch/mod wasn't something that added to the game, it was something that just removed an invisible wall that prevented normal players from accessing it.

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If someone actully acts out a videogame the have problems seruous problems so why should people who play games as just a game be punished. i have never acted out a video game or known a person who has or ever heard of a person who acted out a video game. if we are so worried about our childern than take acountabilty dont tell me that we have that many stupid parnets who are so dumb that they buy this game for children. anyway while people die world wide and all we can do to further our selfs is ban a video game come on be for real.

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I feel that if GTA: San Andreas is being posted with an AO rating that the rest of the GTA series should be recalled and re-reated with AO. When you think about it GTA 3 and GTA: Vice City are just as bad as this one. Even though I feel that this was the right thing to do for the consumers sake I dont agree with it.

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