Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

"Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" Likely to Vanish From Major Retailers' Shelves

Because of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board's re-rating of it from "Mature" to "Adults Only", the video game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" is likely to be dropped from most big video retailers in the near future. Generally major retailers do not like to sell AO rated games, according to the industry spokesgroup Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association. The re-rating came after it became clear that a downloadable fix, called "Hot Coffee", allowed players to view a pornographic scene that maker Rockstar had inserted. Rockstar asserted that it had not wanted the scene to be available to users (but then why make the scene available at all?) The "Hot Coffee" download is available at several sites on the Web.

Rockstar now says it plans to release a new version of the game without the objectionable scene. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" was the best-selling video game of 2004.

Senator Hillary Clinton also suggested that federal intervention might be forthcoming to ban sales of sexually explicit video games to minors. Illinois' governor was sent similar legislation this year (HB 4023). The synopsis reads: "Provides that a person is guilty of distributing harmful materials to a minor by knowingly distributing such material knowing that the minor is under the age of 18. Changes various penalties for violations of the amendatory provisions. Provides that it is an affirmative defense to selling a sexually explicit or violent video game to a minor that the video game was pre-packaged and rated EC, E10+, E, or T by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. Includes admission to explicit motion pictures." California's Speaker Pro Tem Leland Yee is sponsoring Assembly Bill 450, which "would prohibit the sale and rental of violent video games that depict serious injury to human beings in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, to persons who are 16 years of age or younger." Read more here.  It was introduced on February 15 and sent to the relevant committees (Judiciary, Arts, Entertainments, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media). Referred out, on July 13 it had its third reading in the General Assembly.

Read Variety's article on "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" and its re-rating here.

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