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twoplayer comic: C.O.D.
posted by: Aaron Stanton
publisher: GamesFirst! Internet Magazine
date posted: 12:00 AM Sun Jul 17th, 2005
last revision: 11:07 AM Tue Aug 16th, 2005

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Kids have cooler toys now days than I did when I was younger. I had Legos. My friends and I also had a giant oak tree that we called the Old Oak. If we played tag, or Spy, the closest we had to a laser gun or a hidden microphone was pointing a finger and yelling, Zap! at the top of our lungs (or bang, depending on the game). Covert operations meant one team pretending not to hear the other barging through the forest during water gun fights, just for the sake of the game. I was at Wal-Mart yesterday looking over kid\'s toys, and they had functional directional microphones for ease dropping, and little broadcasters that can send out signals to a radio channel. You have no idea what I would have given as a kid for a good directional microphone. Not that they have all that much range; using it involves shoving a large black microphone-looking thing in the direction of your target. Of course, in the case of spying, you shove the large obvious microphone around covertly. Let\'s face it; people are going to notice you hiding under the slide on the playground staring at the girls (since who else would be worth ease dropping on?).

A good example of the cool toys kids have now is the Pelican Light Rifle. It\'s been out for some time, and it\'s one of the coolest toys out there. It never really seemed to generate the interest it should have. The Silent Scope Light Rifle was and is the most interesting element of the re-released Silent Scope games on the Xbox, which were ok on their own, but sublimely cool with the scope. Not only does the gun break down into a shotgun style handheld for use with other games, but also raising the scope to your eye while playing Silent Scope actually zoomed up in the game for you. Freakin\' sweat, let me tell you. Somehow, word of our enthusiasm for the light rifle made it to Pelican during E3 2005, and then next thing we know there\'s a unit sitting on my desk for review, months after its actual release. Pelican, in general, has always been fairly nice to us.

On a different note, evidence suggests that the Hot Coffee mod that unlocks a sexual mini-game in GTA: San Andreas on the PC is also accessible, with a bit of work, on the PS2 version of the game. Mainly this is important because it belies Rockstar\'s claim that the code was entirely inserted by the hackers that developed the modification. There\'s also a lot of speculation that this could all be a planned publicity stunt. Personally, I\'m willing to allow for a bit of doubt and blame it on a rouge programmer maybe, but only because I\'m a nice guy. If I believed Rockstar had actually planned this sort of thing, then there\'d be a lot of angry words in place of my fairly calm commentary. My anger would be great and terrible, and my wrath swift and also terrible. It\'d probably involve putting bubble gum in someone\'s hair. The issue of free speech and games, and censorship and games, has to come to a true public eye at some point, but on a chosen battlefield. I question if GTA is really the battlefield we\'re looking for. If Rockstar really did seek to undermine the ESRB rating by lying about the content of the game, then they\'ve undercut a self-regulatory system that our industry has been trying to build trust in for years. It would be considered a stupid, stupid move.

The damage is not that there\'s PG13 and R rated material in a video game, but the tremendous amount of political grandstanding and exploitation of the issue that has already begun. It works because most people that listen to the TV broadcasts will never bother to actually witness or play the games they\'re so eager to dislike, let alone go to the extra trouble it takes to install some sort of modification to see that there\'s no nudity. Sexual content? Yes. Nudity? No. Does that description really deserve the equivalent of an X-Rated assignment, and a federal regulation that fines store owners $5000 if they rent or sale to a minor, not counting possible jail time. Hell, you can rent or buy an X and R rated movie with actual people showing actual breasts and actual? um?. other stuff? with no such penalty. Not only is such restrictive legislation a violation of our free speech laws (a claim that people sadly seem to think has lost importance over the years, apparently), but at a conservative level that far exceeds other forms of art, like books, movies, and photography. Content that earns you an R in the movie theater might soon land you an Adults Only rating in a game.

Silly, silly, silly.

And Scary.

Aaron Stanton

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