Hot Coffee minigame controversy

Hot Coffee minigame controversy

Infobox VG
title = Hot Coffee mod

caption =
aspect ratio =
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developer =
publisher =
distributor =
designer = Patrick Wildenborg
license =
series =
engine =
version =
released = See
genre =
modes =
ratings = ESRB: AO (Adults Only)
platforms = PC
media = Download
requirements =
input =

The Hot Coffee minigame controversy concerns a normally inaccessible minigame in the 2004 video game "", developed by Rockstar North. Public awareness of the existence of the minigame arrived with the release of the "Hot Coffee mod", created for one version of the product (the 2005 release for Windows-based computers). This mod enables access to the minigame.

The minigame portrays simulated sexual intercourse between the main character, and his in-game girlfriend. The name of the mod is derived from the girlfriend's offer for the main character to come into her home for "coffee" — a euphemism for sex.

Although the "Hot Coffee" minigame was completely disabled and its existence was only highlighted after the mod's release for the PC version in June 9, 2005,cite web | url = | title = Hot Coffee mod developer's mod listing | work = PatrickW's modding website | accessmonthday = July 5 | accessyear = 2006] the assets for the minigame were also discovered in both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions of the game, and people found ways to enable the minigame via console video game hacking tools. By the middle of July 2005, the minigame's discovery attracted considerable controversy from lawmakers and politicians, prompting the game to be re-rated as an adult game, and pulled from some shelves. An updated version of "San Andreas" has since been released with the minigame removed completely, allowing the game to regain its original rating. A patch for the original version of the game, which disables the minigame and crashes the game if one attempts to access it, has also been [ released] .cite web | url = | title = No More Hot Coffee | work = Rockstar Games | accessyear = 2005]

Minigame overview and Hot Coffee mod

During the course of the main plot of the game, the player (as main character Carl "CJ" Johnson) may date up to six girlfriends, carrying out various "date missions" in order to improve his relationship with a particular girl. Once Carl has become particularly close to a girlfriend, she may end a successful date by inviting him into her house for "coffee," from which Carl may choose to accept or decline. Improving relationships with girlfriends through successful dates and other related activities will eventually reward CJ with new items (vehicles and special wardrobes), along with pre-existing gameplay benefits (e.g. dating a nurse grants the character free visits to the hospital, without losing his weapons, after dying).

In the unmodified version of "San Andreas", the player sees an exterior view of the girlfriend's house while hearing the muffled voices of Carl and his girlfriend as they engage in sexual intercourse. However, the "Hot Coffee" modification replaces this with a minigame which allows the player to actually enter the girlfriend's bedroom and control Carl's actions during sex. None of the six possible sex scenes involve any nudity, and there are animation problems with the girlfriends' partly clothed textures and bedrooms, suggesting the minigame was abandoned at a relatively early stage. Third-party additions were later incorporated in the "Hot Coffee" modification which replace the girlfriend's clothes with alternate, nude models also originally from the game disc. These models, like most nude patches, do not incorporate visible genitalia.

Rockstar Games, the publisher of the "Grand Theft Auto" series, initially denied allegations that the minigame was "hidden" in the video game, stating that the "Hot Coffee" modification (which they claim violated the game's End User Licence Agreement) is the result of "hackers" making "significant technical modifications to and reverse engineering" the game's code.cite web | url = | title = 'Grand Theft' maker blames hackers for sex scenes | work = Reuters | accessdaymonth = 13 July | accessyear = 2005] However, this claim was undermined when [ Jay FNG Philbrook] , on July 12 2005, released an "Action Replay Power Save" for the Xbox console, and codes for the PlayStation 2 Action Replay game enhancer that allowed the scenes to be accessed in each of the console versions. These new methods of accessing "Hot Coffee" demonstrated that the controversial content was, indeed, built into the console versions as well.

The creator of the original PC mod, Patrick Wildenborg (under the Internet alias "PatrickW"), a 47-year old modder from the Netherlands, rejects Rockstar's claim that the mod required significant technical effort, pointing out that he only changed a single bit in the installed game's "main.scm" file, and that there is absolutely no new content that he actually created — every piece of the required code was already in-game, just not available to the player.cite web | url = | title = Hot Coffee mod developer's statement | work = PatrickW's modding website | accessdaymonth = 13 June | accessyear = 2005] The PC mod itself is actually just an edited copy of the game script files with the bit changed. The mod was also made possible on the console versions, by changing the bit inside a user's savegame or by using a third-party modding device. Mods for the "Grand Theft Auto" series are nothing new. The mod community has flourished for years creating additions to the map, new cars, and even a mod for multi-player gameplay. All of this is possible because Rockstar left the scripts open for mod makers to edit in order to have user created content. Take-Two has stated that the mod constitutes a violation of the End User License Agreement, [ [ Take-Two Games - Investor Relations General Information ] ] even though modification of the main.scm file is common within the mod community.

The possibility of enabling the minigame by changing a single bit of code shows that the sexual intercourse content is part of the game's original data, and not new content inserted into the game by the mod. However, it is not possible to access the sexual content simply by playing the game as intended by the developers, because it was fully disabled and the bit cannot be changed by normal gameplay.cite web | url = | title = Confirmed: Sex minigame in PS2 San Andreas | work = GameSpot | accessdaymonth = 15 July | accessyear = 2005] The fellatio animations are however clearly visible in the background of an early mission, "Cleaning the Hood", even in the re-released game.cite web | url = | title = Norwegian article proving the sex animations are used in the game | work = Nettavisen | accessdaymonth = 14 June | accessyear = 2006] This may explain why the mini-game was not simply removed when the decision was made to cut it from the game: its assets were in use elsewhere.cite web | url = | title = My Take On "Hot Coffee" | work = Rom's Rants | accessdaymonth = 14 June | accessyear = 2006]


The revelation of the minigame sparked a fair amount of controversy around "GTA:SA", with some politicians firing harsh words at both the game's developer and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the organization which establishes content ratings for video games in North America. It has also rekindled the debate over the influence of video games in general with new protests against several other games such as "Killer7", "The Sims 2", and "Bully". The affair was nicknamed "Hot Coffeegate" at its height.

Jack Thompson was one of the first to criticize the game for its recently found content. Thompson believes that violent media are one of the main sources linked to violent crime in America. Thompson has lashed out against Rockstar Games on several occasions for previous games they have developed.

U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton jumped into the fray by suggesting new regulations be put on video games sales.cite web | url = | title = Clinton calls for federal game regulation | work = GameSpot | accessdaymonth = 14 July | accessyear = 2005] The ESRB is also conducting an investigation into whether the game's publisher lied about the game's content in an attempt to avoid the Adults Only 18+ rating. Also, Congress passed a resolution to have the Federal Trade Commission investigate whether Rockstar intentionally undermined the ESRB by having the content in the game.cite web | url = | title = Take-Two sued, confirms FTC investigation | work = GameSpot | accessdaymonth = 27 July | accessyear = 2005]

In New York, a class action lawsuit was filed by Florence Cohen, an 85-year old grandmother who purchased the game for her 14-year old grandson (according to the old rating of M, the game is typically considered inappropriate for this age). Cohen's lawsuit claimed that Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive, the publisher of the game, are guilty of deception, false advertising, fraud and abuse. The accusation of deception is based on the change from M-rated to AO, meaning according to the lawsuit that the original rating was a deceptive practice.cite web | url = | title = Grandma Sues Rockstar Over San Andreas | work = TeamXbox | accessdaymonth = 27 July | accessyear = 2005]

There was also a protest that occurred at Rockstar's headquarters. A protest group known as the "Peaceholics" organized a protest on August 4, 2005. The group organized against "San Andreas" as well as the upcoming game "Bully", the latter, which they wanted cancelled because of fears that the content could inspire children to become bullies themselves. The protesters had signs that read "Put the Cuffs On Rockstar Games", "Prosecute Rockstar Games; they are felons", "Hey hey, ho ho, Rockstar Games has got to go".cite web | url = | title = March against Bully | work = Joystiq | accessdaymonth = 4 August | accessyear = 2005] Protesters had several demands for Rockstar:

# Not to release "Bully" under any circumstances. ("Bully" was eventually released. There are movements by protesters for the game to be banned, however, this is unlikely, as it would be in direct opposition to the United States Constitutions gurantee of freedom of expression).)
# Volunteer to sell its violent and sexually explicit games in adult video stores only.
# Let parents return "Grand Theft Auto" for a full refund until they do a national awareness campaign to educate parents of content and possible effects.
# Create a fund for victims of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and car-jackings, etc. - Canceled due to rants.
# Make a national apology for misleading and lying to children, parents, and legislators about their intentions and causing insurance premiums to sky rocket.
# Give a written response within five business days of receipt of these demands.cite web | url = | title = Group Releases Rockstar Demands | work = Joystiq | accessdaymonth = 4 August | accessyear = 2005]

However, there are many who disagree with these critics and feel that the attacks on video games are unfounded. While not as organized as the anti-gaming groups, some gamers decided to counter their activities. A few pro-game activist sites have also emerged, such as [ [ GamePolitics News | GamePolitics ] ] and Gamerandy [ [ Gamer Andy: News by gamers, for gamers ] ] .Gamerandy even has a petition to combat anti-video game activists.

thumb|250px|right|The_rate_of_violent_crime_rate_in_the_U.S._steadily_decreased_through_the_ U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.] ]

These sites provide sources to support their arguments. One particular article circulated by video game proponents cites the diminishing crime rate as one of the major distortions that have emerged in the new fight against violent and sexually explicit video games. This article details how the overall crime rate has actually gone down since the fighting game "Mortal Kombat" caused a major controversy in the early '90s. The youth crime rate has diminished as well.cite web | url = | title = The Truth About Violent Youth and Video Games | work = Game-Revolution | accessmonthday=June | accessyear = 2008]

GamePolitics also launched some attacks of their own directed at Jack Thompson because of alleged distortions he has made about their reporting. Thompson has apparently taken information out of context from GamePolitics to claim that "" also has a sex minigame.

The "Hot Coffee" controversy dashed financial expectations for Rockstar Games parent Take-Two Interactive, which lost $28.8 million in its fiscal 3rd quarter of 2005 (May to July) partly because of the rerating; the company lost $14.4 million in the same quarter in 2004. The effect on "San Andreas" sales is as of yet unknown, but Take-Two has revised its projected financial statement for the quarter to reflect a further anticipated loss.Fact|date=February 2007


Product re-rating

On July 20, 2005, the ESRB announced that it was changing the rating of "GTA:SA" from Mature (M) to Adults Only 18+ (AO).cite web | url = | title = San Andreas rated AO, Take-Two suspends production | work = GameSpot | accessmonthday = July 1 | accessyear = 2006] Rockstar stated that it would discontinue manufacturing the current version of the game, and produce a new version that would not include the content that is unlocked by the Hot Coffee mod. In the fourth quarter of 2005, Rockstar released this "clean" version with the "Hot Coffee" scenes removed ("Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" 1.01), allowing the game to be rerated to a Mature 17+ rating.cite web | url = | title = FTC Hot Coffee ruling scalds, but doesn't burn Take-Two | work = GameSpot | accessmonthday = July 1 | accessyear = 2006]

On July 29, 2005, as a result of the newly-discovered scenes, the OFLC revoked the game's "MA15+" classification (the highest currently available for computer games in Australia), and changed the game's status to "RC" (Refused Classification) meaning that the original version could no longer be sold in Australia. The patched version was given an "MA15+" classification on September 12, 2005. [ [ The Classification Board and Classification Review Board ] ]

On August 10, 2005, Rockstar Games officially released a patch for "San Andreas".cite web | url = | title = No More Hot Coffee | work = Rockstar Games patch website | accessdaymonth = 14 June | accessyear = 2006] Nicknamed the "Cold Coffee Patch" by some,Fact|date=February 2007 the patch fixed many performance issues and bugs. However, the patch also disabled the controversial "Hot Coffee" scenes, even if the "Hot Coffee" mod was reinstalled.

There was little reaction in Europe. However, most European nations had already classified the game as "adult only" for its violent content, so no further action was necessary with or without the mod. Furthermore, unlike the United States, many European nations operate the same regime for video games as they do to films, thus it is a criminal offense to sell adult-only games to minors. For example, the UK version of "GTA:SA" as with all previous incarnations of the series all the way back to the original GTA, was rated as 18 by the BBFC. There may also be more general cultural factors in the differing responses to the incident.Fact|date=February 2007 Similarly, news of the mod did not make any impact at all in Japan, where it was released by Capcom.

Product withdrawal and recall

The day after the rating change, several North American chain stores, and IEMA retailers, which accounted for every major retailer in the United States and approximately 85% of the game's market in the country, removed the PC and console versions of the game from their store shelves, either restickering the box with the new rating, or returning it to Take-Two Interactive. These included major chains such as GameStop, Sears, Hudson's Bay Company, Zellers, Hollywood Video, Blockbuster, Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and Electronics Boutique.Fact|date=February 2007 Rockstar gave some retailers ESRB "Adults Only" rating stickers to put on their copies of "GTA:SA", should they decide to keep selling the original product.

eBay removed copies of "GTA:SA" that had been reported by the eBay community. eBay claimed that "GTA:SA" violated the terms of the eBay seller policy and could not be sold unless it was located in the "Everything Else > Mature Audiences" section. This section requires a credit card to validate the age of the eBay user. Since eBay relies on the community to police itself eBay users have to report a game before eBay staff will remove the listing.

On August 24, 2005, Rockstar announced a mandatory recall for all games still owned by the general public. Consumers who had already purchased the game were allowed to keep it in certain areas, but with the patch installed, although many serious players refused to use it as they didn't want to block out an unused part of the game's code. Some commentators have anticipated a product recall of "San Andreas" once the "clean" version is available, although given the high value of the "uncensored" versions, it is doubtful that many gamers will return their copies voluntarily.Fact|date=February 2007

Presently, the original version of "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" is necessary to use multiplayer game modifications such as "San Andreas Multiplayer" or "Multi Theft Auto" and other game modifications that include new scripts or vehicles, which do not work with the new updated / censored version 2.0.Fact|date=February 2007 Certain pirated or illegally distributed versions of the original game may also be made available on the Internet or from illegal retail outlets. Downgraders are also available to unpatch and revert the game version and support the Hot Coffee minigame again.

Federal and legal action

In December 2005, Senators Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh introduced the Family Entertainment Protection Act, which calls for a federal mandate enforcement of the ESRB ratings system in order to protect children from inappropriate content.

On January 26, 2006, the city of Los Angeles filed a lawsuit against Take-Two Interactive, the game's publisher, accusing the company of failing to disclose the game's sexual content.Fact|date=February 2007

Rockstar has allegedly vowed legal action against any subsequent sources that reveal how to access this part of the game, mainly cheat device code sites (although the Hot Coffee mod and "GTA:SA" Censor Remover remain freely available).Fact|date=February 2007

On June 8, 2006, Rockstar, Take-Two and the FTC settled. They are required to "clearly and prominently disclose on product packaging and in any promotion or advertisement for electronic games, content relevant to the rating, unless that content had been disclosed sufficiently in prior submissions to the rating authority." Should the companies violate the settlement they are liable for $11,000 in civil penalties.cite web|last=Adams |first= David |authorlink= |coauthors= | date=2006-06-08 | year=2006 |month=June |url= |title=Rockstar, FTC Settle Over Hot Coffee |format= |work= |pages= |publisher=IGN | language= |accessdate=2006-06-16]

Civil class actions

In 2006 attorneys brought several class actions alleging Take-Two committed consumer fraud. In December 2007, a settlement of the litigation was reached. [cite web|url=|title=GTA Settlement] In 2008, Ted Frank filed an objection to the settlement on the grounds that the settlement sought $1 million for attorneys' fees but only paid class members less than $27,000.cite web|url=||title=Did Lawyers Inflate Fees in Hot Coffee Class Action Suit?|date=05-27-2008] cite web
title=Grand Theft Auto: Class Action Settlement - $26,505 for the unrepresented class, $1 million fee request
] A court hearing is scheduled June 25, 2008. Frank previously told GamePolitics that the lawsuits were meritless and extortionate. [cite web
title=Overlawyered Disses Hot Coffee Class Action Settlement

As part of the settlement, Take-Two will pay a $873,000 cy pres award to the National Parent-Teacher Association and the ESRB.

As of June 25, 2008, less than 2,700 claimants responded to the settlement, for which the plaintiff's attorneys expressed disappointment. [cite web |url= |title=Lawyers shocked at lack of Hot Coffee claimants |accessdate=2008-06-26 |author=Matt Martin |date=2008-06-25 |] Frank expressed that this was further proof that the case had no merit.

Hot Coffee references and spoofs

* In an episode of "Chuck " entitled "Chuck vs. the Truth", Chuck proclaims "Hot Coffee" as he discusses the more intimate details of his relationship with Sarah.
* "" features an unlockable extra dubbed "Hot Coffee" that stars Daxter and his girlfriend Tess. Because of the camera angle and sound effects, it seems they are having sex. However, as the camera rotates it is revealed that instead of having sex, however, they are seen drinking coffee, ending with Daxter looking at the camera and saying "What?".
* "" (2005), the next installment of the "Grand Theft Auto" series following "San Andreas", features the character asking Toni Cipriani, the game's protagonist, if he wants to "come up for or something?" to which Toni replies "I'll pass".
* In November 11, 2005, an episode of the FOX television program "Killer Instinct" focused on a popular online video game with explicit violence, in which teenagers playing the game are depicted with the ability to unlock sexually explicit scenes and mini-games.
* "Steambot Chronicles" features a dating side quest where Vanilla Bean, the protagonist, can be invited to his girlfriend's home for Hot Cocoa (revealed to be an actual invitation for hot chocolate, and not sex).
* On the September 27, 2006 episode of "The Colbert Report", Stephen Colbert advertised his fictional game "World of Colbertcraft" (a play on "World of Warcraft"'s name). At the end of the episode, he warned parents about a secret "adult-only" minigame that could be unlocked using a special code.
* [ A cutscene] from the "Family Guy" video game depicts Brian reading the following from a video game magazine: "Hidden pornographic scene viewable by pressing 'up','up','down','down','left' [the first five keys to the Konami Code] ." He looks around for a while then resumes reading, adding: "Horny gamers believe anything." When inputing the code, the game skips the cut scene, leaving the player to reset the game if they want to view it.
* When interacting with a pedestrian during the "London Tourist" mode of "Gangs of London", the pedestrian would mention a fake cheat code (pressing the "up" button thirteen times) that activates the "'Hot Tea' mod."
* In the video game Lair, a code may be entered in order to view a short clip of a coffee machine being used. In an interview shortly after the game's release, one of the developers said that they wanted to dub it "Hot Coffee", but did not want to risk the anger of the game distributors.Fact|date=September 2007
* In the recently released video game "The Simpsons Game", there is an achievement in the Xbox 360 version of the game called "Hot Coffee", earned by completing the time challenge of the Grand Theft Scratchy level.
* In a recent JPod episode, entitled "Hot Coffee", Ethan proposes to add a secret level in their skating video game, Board X, where you can see the protagonist, Dwight the turtle, buying cocaine and picking up hookers.
* In the Xbox 360 version of "Grand Theft Auto IV", one of the achievements is named "Warm Coffee". It is unlocked by being invited into any one of Niko's girlfriend's houses.
* In the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of "Grand Theft Auto IV", when Niko drops off his girlfriend, if you choose to try your luck, Niko says, "perhaps I can join you for some 'hot coffee'."
* In a seemingly further attempt to make light of the controversy, there is a chain of coffee shops in the "Grand Theft Auto IV" game called "Hot Coffee Shop"
* In the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of "Grand Theft Auto IV", the Statue of Liberty is replaced with a Statue of Happiness, who holds a cup of coffee. The face on this statue intentionally resembles that of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Note that the cup steams sometimes.


External links

* [ PatrickW's Website (creator of original mod) ]
* [ PS2 Save Tools (home to GTA:SA Censor Remover) ]
* at
* [ New York Times article about Hot Coffee Mod controversy]
* [ article on the code's existence in the PS2 version]
* [ IGN: Rockstar Responds to GTA: SA's AO Rating]
* [ Rockstar's anti Hot Coffee game patch]

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