: The 3 Merits of San Andreas

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The 3 Merits of San Andreas

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I was listening to the radio the other day whilst working away on some news posts when the hourly news report came on. Apparently, some California lawyer who clearly missed his ride on the bandwagon, was attempting to sue Rockstar Games for not declaring the unused Hot Coffee code when presenting San Andreas to the ESRB. You see, unused code is left in games all of the time. Heck, raunchy extra footage from movie outtakes are left on the cutting room floor. I'm sure that even writers are occasionally struck with the urge to suddenly type up something really nasty in their word processors. The point is that once content is created, it becomes part of reality. Digital content more so, considering that, even if it is deleted from a computer, some remnants of its existence will remain deep within the bowels of the hard drive on which it was created forever.

So, Hot Coffee is nothing new. For a game with the scope of GTA: San Andreas, wholly deleting the code itself may have caused other things to break or perhaps the development team was just so crunched for time that they simply disabled it instead of trying to remove it. I'd even wager that there is a lot of other unused code on each and every disc out there, just none so racy as ugly, simply-modeled polygons thrusting their rhombi together. Unused code is a fact of video game development.

And yet, we have those who would come running headlong into the “debate” over such things with only their public character or re-election campaign on their minds. At this point, Jack Thompson seems to be no more than a gigantic yelling head who is periodically let loose from the little box he's kept in, like Jambi from Pee Wee's Playhouse. That brings me back to the beginning. It was not so much that the lawyer in California came off as Mr. Thompson's stunt double as it was the same lack of context they, the media, and politicians seems to take into consideration when discussing these matters. You see, the sticking point – what really got me – was the way in which the news anchor described San Andreas: “a game in which your goals are to steal cars, beat up police officers, and make drug deals.” Perfect for a soundbyte, but without doing justice to the rest of the game. It seems to be the case that, for these people, there is no such thing as context. I hope to provide some of that as I go over the 3 Merits of San Andreas and give some credence to those aspects of the game which other people go out of their way to ignore.

1/30/2006 Cavin Smith

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