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  • Hot Coffee: Why Video Game Sex is Worse than Video Game Violence

    Posted on July 31st, 2005 Finster 19 comments

    A lot of hubbub has been published relating to the now infamous Hot Coffee mod of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. A mod which unlocks disabled code in the game to enable a player to take part in a simulated sex mini-game.

    Senator Hilary Rodham (D-NY) has even gotten in on the action, proposing a federal law, in large part due to the mod, that would fine game clerks $5000 for selling M- or AO-rated games to minors.

    Rockstar has denied that they had ANYTHING to do with the mod. Gamespot quickly proved that all the code is there and can be utilized even on a PS2 using various cheat codes, thereby proving that the original code was written by Rockstar, even if the code was never intended to be part of the final release.

    Some bloggers out there are arguing along the lines of, “What’s wrong with a little sex compared to all the violence that is in the game?”

    Well, I’ll tell you.

    But first, I want to say that I do not own any of the Grand Theft Auto games. I have played 20-30 minutes of GTA3, but quickly decided it was not fun. The Hot Coffee mod is just another good reason, IMHO.

    Anyway, now that my opinions have been made clear on the subject of GTA, I’m going to explain why Sex in media is worse than Violence.

    First, let’s establish an operating definition of Sex and Violence for this discussion. Since we’re talking about GTA: San Andreas, I’d like to restrict our discussion to the scale of sex and violence depicted in that game, only. There are games out there that could be argued as more violent or more sexual in nature. I’m not disputing that.

    I am disputing whether the violence in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has more or less of an effect than the sex depicted in the Hot Coffee cheats in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

    The sex acts depicted, as described by Gamespot, in the Hot Coffee mod are worse than the violence because of the way human brains work.

    The human brain is naturally wired with a built-in desire to have sex. It’s part of the reproductive cycle and it’s part of life. There’s nothing wrong with that and most people believe that you should keep these desires reigned in until the proper time, like marriage. Others would disagree, but there is no denying that the power to procreate is a powerful drive in the human psyche.

    Due to this natural sex drive, seeing sexual acts depicted on screen or in other media causes this drive to become active and can cause arousal in the individual viewing the media. Regardless of the debate on whether or not this leads to violent sexual crimes, it is agreed upon by most studies that sexual arousal does occur as a direct result of seeing pornographic material.

    What is arousal? According to Wiktionary, to arouse means “to excite to action from a state of rest.” Thus, sexual arousal is to excite to sexual action.

    So, using Hot Coffee leads to an increase in sexual desire. The next question is whether the violence in GTA: San Andreas increases the desire in a person to become violent. Does it increase violent arousal? I say that it does not. I’ve played some of the most violent video games around. Halo, Half-Life, Doom, and never have I felt an increased desire to shoot, punch, or maim someone.

    Hot Coffee will increase one’s desire to copulate. This is because of the inherent nature of human beings, as noted above. This increase in desire will affect every normal heterosexual person that sees Hot Coffee being used, and that is why Hot Coffee in GTA: San Andreas is worse than the violence in GTA: San Andreas. There is a time and place for sexual desires to be harnessed, and in my home, it is NOT while playing video games.

    I don’t believe that increased sexual desire because of a video game is something I’d ever want in my home. That is why games containing graphic portrayals of sex will never have a place there.


    18 responses to “Hot Coffee: Why Video Game Sex is Worse than Video Game Violence” RSS icon

    • Are you being serious?

      You literally think that sex in a game is worse than violence, because watching sexual acts stimulates the brain into a state of arousal?

      This just in: Watching people have sex is sexy! Alert the media!

      Well how about other sexual influences in your home? Ads on your television set, movies, magazines. How about when your 17-year old daughter brings her little friends over and they’re wearing itty-bitty tank tops?

      The sex drive is one of our most basic instincts. It’s completely normal to be aroused by everyday things. What separates us from animals is that we don’t have to act on them. It’s the same reason you don’t go commit random acts of violence on people after playing video games. We have self-control, and intelligence that tells us not to. As rational human beings we are aware of the consequences of our actions.

      Of course, if you disagree, you could go live in a poorly lit jail cell, with no windows or openings to the outside world. You know, because it would be pretty bad to get a boner by accident in THE PRIVACY OF YOUR OWN HOME.

    • Yes, I am being serious.

      And yes, I feel that many of the ads on TV, many movies, and magazines with heavy sexual overtones are indeed wrong. Also, I’d like to teach my kids that modesty in dress is a principle I’d like them to live by.

      I agree that our sexual desires ARE normal. I also agree that we have choice and self-control. But that’s kind of my point. If we as humans were ALWAYS mindful of the consequences, if humans always had self-control, there would be a lot fewer illegitimate births and abortions. (I don’t want to start on a discussion of abortion, just stating a fact.)

      Sex drive is normal, but I do not believe that being aroused by a video game is normal.

    • While the assessment of what pornographic material does to the brain may be accurate, I cannot agree with the assertion that the same does not take place after exposure to violence. Consider the person who watches his favorite purple football team loose for the nth season in a row. He is consumed by the desire to go outside on a chilly fall day and play “Iron Man” football until there are too few uninjured players to keep a game together. I have the torn rotator cuffs to prove it.

      It seems this is more a difference of degree. I would suggest that there is a violent state of mind within man which is just as real and present as his sex drive, only more easily subdued.

    • But your logic is flawed, because it’s not the VIOLENCE in the football game that is arousing the desire to crunch people, but the fact that his favorite team lost.

      I would also call in to question whether a football game is violent. Yes, there is a lot of pushing and such, but not with the intent to injure. I know some women who would disagree… but let’s not go there.

      I would say that our hypothetical person harnessed his natural-born tendency to be violent (which I agree does exist in any individual) because of his emotional state. That the emotinal state occurred because of his reaction to a football game is merely coincidental. He could be watching a car race, decide that Jeff Gordon should’ve won, but did not, and then go out and run someone off the road out of “road rage”. I see nothing inherently violent about car racing. Accidents happen, but generally no injury occurs.

      So in summation: it’s not the “violence” of the game that causes someone to be violent, but the person’s emotional state that is taking part in the violence.

      Doom did not cause 2 kids to shoot up Columbine. Their screwed up emotional states did that. Whether that was as a result of bad personal choices or bad parenting can be debated.

    • Ah, but our hypothetical person is, hypothetically, notorious for wanting to play football whether his team wins or looses. It really is all about pounding on other players.

      Even speaking from personal experience, If I watch a particularly hyped, crunchy football game, I get the urge to play a rough game as well. There is a certain very primal element that desires nothing more than to go pound something. Watching football stimulates this urge. It is the same primal element that gives us goosbumps when we hear Conan talk about crushing his enemies.

    • Also, couldn’t you say the same thing about sexual acts? It’s not the depicted act that’s put someone in that situation. It’s the emotion of someone who would go to ACTIVELY SEEK OUT such depictions in the first place.

    • Let’s be clear. I’m not talking about people who are acting out. My point is that whether you are actively seeking out sexual acts or not, you WILL be aroused by what is on the screen if you watch enough sex scenes, whether they are depicted in a movie or a video game. More specifically, the sex in GTA: San Andreas is more arousing, and hence a bigger deal, than the violence (which I presume will only arouse violent feelings in those who want to “actively seek out” violent acts, already.)

    • Coolest Guy Ever

      You are also forgetting that anyone who is devoted enough to a video game to figure out the Hot Coffee code is probably not getting any anyway. So, he probably won’t be able to act on his “arousal” anyway.

      Now, as to whether that is good for a child’s sexual development, I can’t say for sure, but its probably not good.

      As for general sexual arousal, I bet that almost everything on TV is more sexual than that video game.

    • “Hot Coffee will increase one’s desire to copulate”

      And we cant have that. Look, take it from a former 17 year old boy, they dont need any further desire to copulate. Its built in and all consuming. Besides that, take you argument to the logical conclusion and Islamacists with their burkas would have the right idea. God know seeing a womans ankle increasing the desire to copulate.
      Personally i dont have a problem with either. Generations have grown up with bugs bunny dropping anvils on peoples heads, as well as Anette Funacello shaking her bikini clad behind all over the beach. Society somehow survives. Teens are having less out of wedlock babies than they have since WW2, by every objective measure the kids are better off and just _better_ than their pot smoking, free loving parents. As a wag noted, Boomers went from blaming their parents for everything to blaming their children without missing a beat.

    • I think what is often overlooked when people use the old argument “Oh, so depictions of violence are ok but sex is not?” is what is really being addressed.

      First of all, for the most part, the violence in Grand Theft Auto is not ok. However, I am a big believer in defending oneself.

      On the same hand, I believe sex is something that needs to be handled responsibly. It is not a “bad thing”, but I do think that those who do not have a healthy or responsible attitude towards sex usually find themselves facing the consequences of what they believe to be a harmless act.

      But we’re talking specifically about children here, and there is something fundamental about the nature of sexual activity and violence when it comes to children. My kids are going to encounter the schoolyard bully at some point, they are going to be exposed to violence at an early age whether I let them play video games or watch TV. Inevitably, they will experience or see an act of violence in the real world. At an early age it is my responsibility as parent to equip them to deal with violence in an appropriate manner. They need to know that it is ok to act in self defense or in defense of others, but it is NOT ok to be the schoolyard bully themselves.

      At the same time, you don’t see too many schoolyard hookers, at least not until middle school. So the answer is yes, I am shielding my children from sex. Why the rush to strip them of any innocence the world might leave them? Not to mention, violence is relatively simple to explain. Protect yourself and protect your friends and family. Don’t be the one who starts a fight, but be the one who finishes it. That is it in a nutshell. How do you explain sex in simple terms?

      Quite frankly, I believe that a minor needs a certain level of emotional and mental maturity before the concept of sex can really be understood. That does not give parents a pass to simply let them find out themselves though, or let the schools teach them. (Yeah, ’cause their non-offensive methods will just be soooo effective).

      But hey, regardless of whether GTA: San Andreas is rated M or AO, it is still not suitable for kids either way, so I feel the arguement is somewhat moot. I wonder about any parent who thinks a game named after a felony is going to be ok for their kids.

    • Finster, I think you’ve stated your case well.

      When I was a teenager, my upbringing and religious convictions made it easy for me to decide that I would not have sex before marriage. Actually KEEPING that commitment was very difficult, however, and was made still more difficult by the ease of access to sexual material on TV shows, magazines, and the Internet… even if you weren’t even looking for it. How much more so for someone who WAS drinking it all in as fast as possible!

      Look at it this way: people who have an overweight friend who just LOVES food but is struggling to stick with a diet would naturally be sympathetic to the struggles that person faces. Their friend gets bombarded with countless ads on TV, magazines and billboards for delicious food, or is tempted just by walking down the street and smelling the wonderful aromas. Those are temptations that are hard to resist. People understand that.

      So should it be any mystery that teenagers struggling with their blossoming sexuality should NOT be put into a position where their sexual appetites are stirred up and encouraged? Where casual sex is presented as perfectly normal, fun, and very cool?

      You wouldn’t stick a box of Krispy Kremes under the nose of your dieting friend. Can you therefore understand why some of us object to Rockstar sticking GTA (Hot Coffee or not) in front of the eyes of kids?

    • Ugghh. ‘For the kids’, the rallying cry of every power grab in history. Of course its never ‘my kids’, because you can control your own kids, raise them right. Its always other people that arent raising their kids right, and of course they are the ones that need to be controlled. Look, we live in a constitutional republic, if we dont trust our neighbors to live their lives and raise their kids, we sure cant trust them to help govern us. At the heart of this whole argument is the same thing that is always there, exerting power over others by trying to make them do and believe what we want them to.

      Premarital sex and pregnancy is _down_, largely because (despite media hype) parents by and large do their jobs and kids by and large are stronger than we give them credit for. Again, this isnt about that, its about not liking something and needing an unconscious excuse to make it go away. Yes some people abuse alcohol, yes some people abuse food, yes some people abuse sex. But we dont outlaw booze, food, and sex, because frankly life would be a lot less sweet without them. Ask the Afghans. Dont want your kids playing GTA? Heres a wild idea DONT LET THEM, and if somebody elses kid is allowed to, tell yourself what you tell your kids YOU’RE NOT THEIR PARENTS.

    • You’re overstepping the scope of my article and putting words in my mouth.

      I actually never said that GTA should ever be banned or censored or controlled in any way shape or form. I’m merely making a case that the sex in GTA is worse than the violence in GTA.

      Otherwise, I agree that censoring and fining Rockstar is a bad idea. I do believe that, based on principle, it would not be fair, and is authoritarian. I also agree that such controls of content should happen at the family level, and no where else (except in cases where we can agree that it’s just plain wrong, like kiddie porn.)

    • If I understand your argument correctly, the sex in GTA is worse than the violence, because it is more likely to inspire real world sex more than it would real world violence.

      This presumes that real world sex and real world violence are equally bad results. This unspoken (but implied) conclusion is where your argument falls apart.

      Sex, in general is a positive thing. Even most religions approve of sex (albiet with a prerequisite marriage between the participants). Most people will have sex at some point in their lives. Sex can be a bad thing when it isn’t consensual (Not having seen the Hot Coffee mod ‘in action’ I presume that the sex portrayed in not rape), or when diseases are transmitted.

      Violence, however, is usually frowned upon. There are some instances where violence is not considered a bad act, such as with self defence, or controlled violence of sporting events. The initiation of force (which players often do in GTA) is nearly universally considered a bad thing.

      If nothing else states that sex is more preferable than violence, lets look at the most notorious side effects of each. With violence it is death. With sex, the creation of life is the most notable side effect.

      Life is preferrable to death. Therefore sex is the lesser ‘evil’.

    • I don’t believe anyone has said that sex itself is bad.

      I do believe it’s been said that sex involving kids is bad, as is exposing kids to sex or encouraging them to have sex. I don’t see what is so wrong about that.

    • Shawn, your argument that sex is the lesser “evil” in GTA is based on the notion that both sexual promiscuity and violence are EQUALLY likely to break out among those who play the game. But I don’t think that’s the point of the article. You can argue which outcome would be worse if it were to occur, but I believe Finster’s argument is that one outcome (promiscous sex) is far more likely to result than the other (violence).

      Or, to take the example to an extreme, suppose you had a game that rewarded the player for 1) doing drugs and 2) blowing up a city. Which is worse? If the question is “Which behavior is worse in an absolute sense,” then of course the answer is “blowing up the city”. But if the question is “Which bad behavior is this game most likely to encourage”, then the answer is “doing drugs”.

    • From what I have gathered, and I haven’t played GTA: SA, the sex in that game is definitely worse than the violence. I mean, the scene wasn’t even finished. It’s badly animated, clunky, and both of the characters are not even fully naked. No wonder Rockstar didn’t want it released. I highly doubt that any arousal could be achieved from such a poor job.

      Compared to that, the violence is very detailed, smooth, and well-animated. It’s no wonder this game is selling so well.

    • “But if the question is “Which bad behavior is this game most likely to encourage”, then the answer is “doing drugs”.”

      Actually, the most likely encouraged behavior is ‘sitting on the couch, playing video games’.


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