Last call for a cup of Hot Coffee. The ESRB has revoked the "M" rating for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in the aftermath of the hidden sex mini-game debacle. Popular consensus is that this is clearly a move to bow to political pressure as Hillary Clinton and her cadre of supporters gear up to censor video games back to the Atari 2600 days. OK, that's a bit of exaggeration, but the fact remains that the ESRB is quite clearly, if you'll pardon the pun, screwed.
Now that the ESRB has revoked the rating, it prompts a ratings restickering effort on existing San Andreas packages to change the rating to "AO" (Adults Only 18+) and a recall on unsold copies that will be replaced with new versions of the game that lack the locked-up Hot Coffee sex content. I have to wonder though, by removing the Hot Coffee content shouldn't that make the game "safe" for the Mature rating? The ESRB rated the game "M" before anyone knew about Hot Coffee. Now that it's gone the game is changed to "AO", meaning that it has been rated based on objectionable content that the revision will not contain. I do not follow the logic in that at all. I've read some reports that unrecalled copies will carry the "AO" rating while the revised version will remain rated "M". That could just create more confusion.
More importantly, the ESRB has shown that it will bow to political pressure. The precedent is set now that all politicians have to do is cause a little media firestorm to make the organization roll over. On the other hand, if the ESRB hadn't responded, these same politicians would have proclaimed it a toothless organization and moved for government-controlled censorship. There really is no good way out of this for video game fans and we have Rockstar to thank for that.
Clinton and her anti-game supporters now know how to make the ESRB
bend to its wishes. Anytime they come across game content they find
objectionable, they will raise a ruckus until the ESRB reacts and
censors the content to prevent further government intervention.
Without actually passing any legislation regarding game censorship,
politicians are now able to censor video games. It's quite the
My concern is that Clinton and her supporters will not stop at Grand Theft Auto.
There are many games out there over which Clinton and friends
would surely blow a gasket. I don't want them interfering with Resident Evil. I don't want them tampering with Geist.
Imagine the reaction when they see Shadow the Hedgehog armed with a
handgun. You will see the uprising of furious gamers if they lay a
hand on the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
(which, if you'll recall, features segments where Link becomes a wolf -
a naked wolf, no less - and can tear his enemies into pieces).
I fear that the censorship and political crowing are just beginning. I do not like where this issue is going.