Major stores in America have pulled Grand Theft Auto: San
Andreas off their shelves immediately after it received an adult-only rating
from ESRB, Entertainment Software Rating Board, last Wednesday, due to
sexually explicit content.
Theft Auto: San Andreas has been pulled off the shelves.
The AO rating states that people who play the game MUST
be 18 years of age or older. The AO rating is the highest age restriction
issued by ESRB and is rarely given to a game. ESRB rated the game because of
the blood and gore, intense violence, nudity, strong language, strong sexual
content and use of drugs.
Several major retail store chains in America, such as
Target and Best Buy, immediately pulled the game off their shelves because
they have a strict no AO-rated games policy.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas previously had a
“mature” rating, or an age restriction of 17 years. However, because
hidden, sexually explicit content, which could be accessed with the “hot
coffee” module downloadable from the internet, the game’s producer,
US-based Rockstar Games, was put under pressure by politicians and media
watch groups to change the rating.
The adult content on the PC version of the game could be
accessed by downloading the “hot coffee” patch from the internet.
Initially Rockstar Games denied that the content was on Playstation2 or
X-Box versions of the game, but a code breaking team from a well known
American video game magazine managed to access the content on Playstation2
using a code-breaking device, widely available in most shops. Rockstar
Games’ parent company, Take Two Interactive Software Inc. have now
admitted the sex mini-games were included in the Playstation and X-Box
releases despite previously having stated that the modifications had been
crafted by hackers. The company also said it is working on a new, safer
version of the game to render the explicit content inactive.
The rating system does, however, not play a big role in Thailand. A child
can buy a game with any rating in Thai video game shops without needing to
be of proper age. The game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is very popular in
Thailand among youths. The game can be played in video game cafes all around
town and even in the main walking areas of malls, such as Central Airport
Plaza and Kad Suan Kaew. TVs are all over these malls where anyone can
insert 10 baht and play the featured game. When it was first released,
several gaming stations were put up at Airport Plaza where children as young
as five could be seen playing the violent games.