Porn in Your Video Games?

On July 8 the media watchdog, National Institute on the Media and the Family, issued a "nationwide parental alert," announcing the video game "San Andreas" contained pornography. Shortly afterward the networks aired stories about the possibility of "the porn in your children's video games," citing "San Andreas."

Last Thursday Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote to the Federal Trade Commission, saying, "We should all be deeply disturbed that a game which now permits the simulation of lewd sexual acts in an interactive format with highly realistic graphics has fallen into the hands of young people across the country."

So what is this game and why has it caught the attention of the media and United States senators?

"San Andreas" is the latest installment of the best-selling Grand Theft Auto series, by Rockstar Games. The games revolve around stealing cars, killing cops, blowing things up, buying hookers and mowing down innocent bystanders. Accordingly, the game is rated Mature; similar to an R rating, nobody under 17 can purchase it. The game is available on the Xbox, Playstation 2 and the PC.

Recently a Dutch computer guru found a segment of code in "San Andreas" for an unreleased portion of the game where you can have sex with your girlfriend on screen. Previously when picking up hookers all we saw was the car rocking back and forth. But this unattainable section shows everything a video game can, which basically amounts to two pixelated breasts. The code's discoverer wrote a program to unlock this section, which is available for download online.

So a 17-year-old guy can buy a game advertised for its sex and violence, install it on his computer, download and install an additional program, and then halfway through the game see some obviously artificial secondary sex organs? The moral fabric of Western society is surely unraveling before our very eyes.

It's not like it's easy to get at this content. There is no way someone could accidentally happen to stumble upon the nudity. Correctly installing the unlocking the program on the PC version of the game requires significant computer knowledge. Modifying an Xbox or Playstation 2 to even be capable of supporting such programs is extremely difficult, usually requiring purchasing an expensive computer chip and soldering it in yourself.

However, if news groups and politicians think that this unfinished part of the game poses a threat to the hearts and minds of our minors, there must be something there. To see if "San Andreas" did indeed make it easier for people to see the naked female form, I commissioned two friends to perform research determining just how long it took to access this "porn" compared to more conventional methods.

Time to go to store, get the game, return home, install, download program, install, play game, get a girlfriend and finally see the "goods": five hours, 23 minutes (adjusted for bathroom breaks)

Time to type in and hit enter: .9 seconds, averaged from five time trials with a stopwatch.

There you have it. This game is no significant improvement over the tried and true methods of finding unclothed mammary glands. I don't know what all the fuss is about. I suppose it's possible that the politicians and news people have no idea what they're talking about, since they didn't adequately research the situation and instead jumped at the chance to talk about "dangerous and lewd video games poisoning our little children."

But I won't jump to conclusions. It's not like I've thought this through or anything.

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