Clinton Takes Aim At Video Games

From correspondents in Washington15 jul 05
US Senator Hillary Clinton has demanded new protections for children from graphic video games, as a row raged over sexual content that gamers can insert into hugely popular release Grand Theft Auto.Mrs Clinton, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, singled out Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas following reports that users can download a hack from the internet, which introduces pornographic scenes to the game.
"The disturbing material in Grand Theft Auto and other games like it is stealing the innocence of our children and it's making the difficult job of being a parent any harder," said the former first lady.
"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."
Mrs Clinton called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate who was behind the hack, which is not produced by the game's creator, Rockstar Games.
She said she would introduce legislation to impose a $US5000 ($6678) fine on retailers who sell pornographic or outrageously violent material to minors.
Political observers will note Mrs Clinton is taking on the gaming industry, at a time when it is reaping growing criticism from parents, and after 'morals' voters were credited with a key role in the last US presidential election.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the latest incarnation of a smash hit game which lets users cruise through the streets, stealing cars, and shooting various characters, including rival gang members, police, and passers-by.
Rockstar said in a statement that it fully supported efforts to keep mature-rated video game content out of the hands of young children.
Games given an M rating by the industry's self-regulators, like Grand Theft Auto, meaning they are suitable for ages 17 and older, were never intended for children, it said.
"We are disappointed by comments that misrepresent Grand Theft Auto, detracting from the innovative and artistic merits of the game," Rockstar said.
"Unfortunately, the recent confusion only serves to suggest that games do not deserve the same treatment as other forms of creative expression."
Rockstar was also quoted on several game industry websites as denying all culpability in the downloadable "hot coffee" 'mod' which allows a user to introduce sexual content.
Changes to the game, which screen grabs posted on gaming websites showed allowed the character controlled by the gamer to engage in sex with several women characters, were the product of reverse engineering of the game's source code, Rockstar was quoted as saying.

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