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Senator Clinton spitting over Hot Coffee

GTA: San Andreas episode incites federal investigation, while ESA president gets labelled a "thug"

Controversy. Definitely a word that's familiar with GTA: San Andreas. If it's not being pillared for gangland shoot-outs or taking prostitutes up back alleys, it's certainly been given a violent smack on the palm for vomiting over clean burger bar floors.

The latest outrage surrounding Rockstar's chart-topper is the now infamous 'Hot Coffee' mini-game episode, which invites previously supposed code-crackers into a steamy simulated romp in a scene deemed too pornographic for its American 'Mature' rating.

While publisher Rockstar strongly denies the presence of 'Hot Coffee' in the gaming code insisting it is instead the work of clever modders, it hasn't managed divert the investigations of higher officials, with U.S. Senator Hilary Clinton making a vociferous call for federal gaming legislation.

Targeting America's Federal Trade Commission, the wife of former president Bill Clinton has demanded "immediate action to determine the source of graphic pornographic and violent content appearing on the GTA: San Andreas game", and to determine whether an Adults Only rating is more suitable, given "this new, alarming content."

Depending on the outcome of the findings, it is hoped by the officials in question that new regulations and laws can be proposed to shake up the ratings system and increase gaming content awareness amongst parents. However, amidst the attack, Rockstar has issued a further statement in defence of the allegations.

"We fully support efforts to keep mature-rated video game content out of the hands of children," the official Rockstar statement read. "Although we may not agree with certain interpretations of our titles, we are looking forward to the opportunity for a balanced and open discussion of these issues.

"We are disappointed by comments that misrepresent Grand Theft Auto, detracting from the innovative and artistic merits of the game. Unfortunately, the recent confusion only serves to suggest that games do not deserve the same treatment as other forms of creative expression. By promoting awareness, we can avoid propagating the fear and mistrust of a new entertainment medium."

However, adding fuel to the fire in a brilliant choice of words, Miami lawyer and serial videogame critic Jack Thompson branded America's Entertainment Software Association (ESA) president Doug Lowenstein a "thug", claiming he has failed to impose gaming censorship. He also criticised the ESA chief of "inept handling" of the 'Hot Coffee' affair.

"If the ESA wants as its president a thug who demonises critics of your industry's criminal, fraudulent excesses, thereby earning their wrath and their determination, then by all means keep Mr. Lowenstein at the helm," he said in a letter to the games industry, and reported on Gamespot.

"[Lowenstein's] extremism has painted a bullseye on your industry. Doug Lowenstein has the brush and Take-Two has provided the blood red paint....get rid of this highly-paid thug and replace him with someone with sense." The ESA, of course, oversees America's Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).

So, there you go, just another day in the life of GTA: San Andreas - but no doubt you'll be hearing more on this episode in future weeks. Genuine cause for concern or just another storm in coffee cup? The saga goes on.

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