GTA: SA gets AO rating

Is it over?. Will the critics finally back off? What does the AO rating mean for future Grand Theft Auto entries? What does it mean for games in general?

Simply put, no one knows.

It's been an odd, long, frustrating scenario to follow, as the Hot Coffee mod slowly made its way around the internet. There are absurdities here, notably that blowing police away with a shotgun is more acceptable than a one-minute sex scene involving people who don't even use the necessary parts. It's probably been the most overblown incident since the always popular Janet Jackson Super Bowl mishap.

What's most aggravating is Rockstar's stance, claiming the mod is not on the game disc, and having the games developer, Take Two, fully admitting it days later. That's their fault, and they deserve some form of punishment, simply for being stupid. Not for leaving the code on the disc (it happens all the time, just maybe not in this way), but for blatantly lying about something and causing the industry to be burdened by uninformed people who wish to do nothing but bash the title.

There are, of course, positives here as well. Developers may be more inclined to create content suitable for an AO rating, but its up to mass retailers to stock these titles. If they're willing to carry unrated DVDs with content not suitable for theaters, there's no reason they should be afraid of carrying video games like this.

There will also be much rejoicing by critics like the PTC, Joe Liberman, and Hillary Clinton. They'll claim they were successful, but truth be told, they accomplished nothing. The game has sold over five million copies. The few re-stickered titles with the AO label will slowly trickle out with no one interested left to buy them. Copies will sky rocket on eBay as people who are easily misled start paying triple digits for the "Hot Coffee" version of the game. Those parents who don't care still won't.

Now the battle will change. Instead of pouncing on the industry with "Game rating system doesn't work," their tone changes to "Porn in video games legal to sell your children." They've backed an industry into the wall, and they won't stop until the issue finally dies and they're re-elected.

People need to be educated, and if they truly cared, they would go out of their way to educate parents these games are out there (of course, if they don't know by now, they have issues of their own). Blaming voters, however, doesn't win elections, and that's the only thing they ever truly cared about in the first place.

Comments (1)

Thanks for writing this Matt. I saw this today and was totally shocked. I need to read about this, but have not had the time.

Should games like BMX XXX get AO ratings too now?

What is this going to do to the new GTA for the PSP coming in November?

How fun this will be. It will clearly change the industry.

But maybe this will be a good thing. The AO rating by the ESRB has been looked down upon so far. Maybe as GTA being the poster boy for AO games, it will make it "OK" to label, and sell, games with an AO rating.

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