the Evil Network

Not necessarily evil, but not necessarily good...

Zoinks! Magazine | Nerdflood

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

'GTA:SA' down, next up -- 'Sims 2'

Posted by Nathaniel at 10:00 AM
GamingThere is a natural animosity that exists under the surface of every facet of civilization as we know it today. Every possible element of life has its yin and yang, its good versus evil, its heroes and its villains. The gaming world is governed by these same principles, and its arena has more than its share of bloodshed from battles fought and won, and other battles fought and lost.

In the gaming world, our villain is Jack Thompson. Jack's archrival: everyone else. Evidently condemning and vilifying the ESA, Rockstar, Take-Two Interactive, and the ESRB for their inability to protect our innocent children from the horrors of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is not enough for this man. Now he's after Electronic Arts for allowing the public to glimpse the atrocities of Sims 2. From the article:
Although there is no sex in the game, characters appear nude when carrying out activities such as taking a shower. Their breasts and genitals are blurred out to avoid offence - but Thompson claimed hackers could get around this by using a cheat code.

"The nudity placed there by the publisher/maker, Electronic Arts, is accessed by the use of a simple code that removes what is called 'the blur' which obscures genital areas," he said.

"In other words, the game was released to the public by the manufacturer knowing that the full frontal nudity was resident on the game and would be accessed by use of a simple code widely provided on the Internet."
The inherent problem with Thompson's logic is the same inherent problem that is being debated all across the internets with regards not just to gaming software, but rather all software in general. In order to see this offending material, the game has to be "modified". Can publishers be held responsible for modified software, regardless of the content that lies beneath?

Now, Rockstar and Take-Two got themselves into trouble with the "Hot Coffee" controversy. They lied, and as we well know with all things politikalistic, it's never the wrongdoing that's the true problem, it's when you lie about it that you actually draw blood with the political machinery.

But EA might still have a leg upon which to stand. This code essentially changes their game, allowing users to view the game in a way in which it was not originally intended. There are many arguments that can be made for idea, none of which are any good. If I use a match to set fire to a house, is the matchmaker responsible; if I use a hammer to kill someone, is the hammer manufacturer responsible? Yeah, like I said, they're not any good. But they represent the core problem of defending software in courts: there is no legal precedent.

There needs to be a fundamental set of rules established that govern the extent to which publishers and developers are responsible for maintaining a clear control over their content before it becomes, in essence, "public domain" (the open-sourcers are going to string me up for saying that). But it's true. I say this not to damage the innovation of software development, but in an effort to protect it. If this doesn't happen, Thompson will continue to tread his bootprints over the good name of video games everywhere, sullying its fantastic entertainment value in the eyes of the mainstream public who have yet to discover gaming's true appeal. We'll have court battles over the "chameleon content" of a game, and finally, the Supreme Court will decide that publishers and developers are evil for making games in the first place, and we'll be stuck with Mario and Yoshi for the rest of our lives.

My two cents, which is more like twenty-five dollars. You can owe me.


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