January 27th, 2006

L.A. City Attorney Goes After Rockstar, T2 Over Hot Coffee

The news just keep getting worse for Take-Two.

In an unprecedented move, Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo has announced a lawsuit against Rockstar and Take-Two Interactive over the Hot Coffee material in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

According to an AP report, Delgadillo said his office took the action against the companies for making misleading statements in marketing the game and engaging in unfair competition.

"Businesses have an obligation to truthfully disclose the content of their products - whether in the food we eat or the entertainment we consume," Delgadillo said.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeks civil penalties from the game industry defendants, specifically that Take Two and Rockstar be ordered to "disgorge a portion of their profits resulting from the illegal acts." Translation: A hefty fine.

Perhaps more troubling is the L.A. City Attorney's revelation that the suit is part of an ongoing investigation by the Criminal and Special Litigation Branch into the marketing of video games. What's next?

GTA San Andreas Voice Actor Complains About Hot Coffee

Well-known actor James Woods, who voiced the character Mike Toreno in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, has joined the ranks of those expressing their displeasure with the Hot Coffee scandal surrounding the game.

Woods told the Associated Press that actors should have been made aware of the hidden sex animations.

"If someone said, 'We're going to have this in there, be aware of that,'" then Woods could have decided for himself whether or not to participate in the game's production. As it stands, the actor said he "just doesn't like to be sandbagged."

Woods, who has appeared in dozens of films, including Any Given Sunday, The Onion Field, and The Getaway, has in recent years increasingly been in demand for voice work in video games. He has contributed to several high-profile games, including Kingdom Hearts and the upcoming Scarface The World is Yours.

Interview with L.A. City Attorney's Office on Hot Coffee Lawsuit

The surprising Hot Coffee lawsuit filed yesterday by the office of Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo (left), a Democrat, could have broad implications for the video game industry, not just Rockstar and Take Two Interactive.

Moments ago, GamePolitics talked with Jonathan Diamond, a spokesman for Delgadillo's office. Of the lengthy investigation, Diamond said, "It's been going on for quite a while. I don't know the exact start date, but it's been a few months. It was prompted by the revelation about what was going on with Take Two and Rockstar, the San Andreas Hot Coffee scenes."

But what about the implication that other games and companies may be under investigation?

"We can't talk about the pending investigation," Diamond told GP. The spokesman did reveal that the case has not been presented to a grand jury.

"The city attorney is the driving force behind it and he's directing the chief of our Criminal and Special Litigation branch, who is a former U.S. Attorney," Diamond said. As to whether the video game industry has been cooperating with the probe, Diamond said cryptically, "We have been communicating with them and sharing information."
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Is Political Ambition Driving the L.A. Hot Coffee Lawsuit?

As reported in today's Good Morning Silicon Valley, Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo's Hot Coffee lawsuit against Rockstar and Take Two may be motivated by something more than altruism. Say...political considerations?

Delgadillo, a Democrat, is running for California Attorney General this year. He faces a June 6th primary election.

50 Cent: Bulletproof, 187 Ride or Die Linked to Day Care Shooting

Yesterday GamePolitics reported that an 8-year-old boy who accidentally discharged a handgun at a Maryland day care center, wounding another student, had been exposed to violent video games. At the time, we didn't know which games.

But we do now.

A report in today's Washington Post identifies 50 Cent: Bulletproof and 187 Ride or Die as extremely violent games to which the boy had access. The paper's information regarding the games comes from what it describes as "a police source."

The WaPo article also seems to cast some doubt on how "accidental" the shooting may have been.

Need a Laugh?

After all of this week's crazy news, gamers may need something to make them smile.

Writing in The Age, Charles Purcell offers video game maxims for living. Here's a sample:

Violence does solve problems. When a zombie runs towards you holding a buzzing chainsaw, do you a) talk to it, or b) blow its head off with a shotgun? Violence is always the best answer to problems. That's why you don't see many video games featuring the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

Girls don't like video games. Your Xbox and your girlfriend are natural enemies...

Video games are a cheap alternative to babysitters. Parents, why spring for a sitter when you can have your children looked after by Donkey Kong? They'll be learning important skills such as jumping barrels and ... um ... jumping barrels. And not to talk to giant, barrel-throwing apes.

Road rules are for suckers. Throw out your Roads and Traffic Authority rulebook when you start gaming. If you want a car, just steal one from the geek driving it. That's what they do in Grand Theft Auto...

You can safely hold your bladder for only six hours. Don't ask how I know. Just accept it.
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