'Hot Coffee,' a widely-available game modification that unlocks a series of graphic sexual encounters in the PC version of GTA: San Andreas, has now raised the ire of former US first lady and New York Senator Hilary Clinton.
Clinton wrote in a letter to the head of the Federal Trade Commission, "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."
The potential Presidential candidate in 2008 went on to say, "The disturbing material in Grand Theft Auto and other games like it is stealing the innocence of our children... I believe that the ability of our children to access pornographic and outrageously violent material on video games rated for adults is spiralling out of control."
Though it was originally thought that the sex scenes were only available on the PC version, it now seems that the Xbox and PlayStation 2 versions of GTA: San Andreas are also capable of showing the sex scenes, though user modifications and third-party cheat codes (using devices such as the Pro Action Replay).
Amidst this growing controversy, Rockstar finds itself in a precarious position. The software giant may ultimately be forced to retroactively impose an higher rating on Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, or worse, recall all copies of the game. That could prove to be financially disasterous to the company. Rockstar has denied that the scenes are in the official version of the game, saying, "so far we have learned that the 'hot coffee' modification is the work of a determined group of hackers who have gone to significant trouble to alter scenes in the official version of the game."
The result of this controversy could have a chilling effect on after-market modifications of video games; to avoid future controversies like this, publishers may opt to place more barriers between players and the game source code. While this approach might help keep the publishers out of hot water, it will alienate many thriving online mod communities.