ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial Slur Incident

December 8, 2008 -

Last week GamePolitics reported on a bizarre incident in which more than a dozen prominent game journalists were sent Animal Crossing: Wild World Nintendo DS cartridges which contained a racial slur.

MTV Multiplayer's Stephen Totilo, who broke the story, reports that he subsequently queried used game seller GameStop and the ESRB as to whether the Animal Crossing incident exposes a flaw in the system whereby embedded user-generated content might exceed the content rating.

Both GameStop and the ESRB view the Animal Crossing episode as an anomaly and deny a larger problem. MTV's Totilo writes:

ESRB spokesperson Eliot Mizrachi, told me... “Just as with online-enabled games that allow features like chat, ESRB ratings cannot anticipate and therefore consider user-generated content in the ratings we assign,” he wrote. “Besides, as you mentioned, saving content to the actual game medium is pretty uncommon in today’s games. Most games are read-only with the saved content being stored on the system and not on the game medium itself.”...

The ESRB may not have much reason to worry that questionable content will make it to consumers because gaming chain GameStop claims to be scrubbing the content from re-sold games. Chris Olivera, spokesman for GameStop, told me in a phone interview that his company has a “proprietary” process that wipes consoles and games clean before they are sold back to consumers...

GP: GameStop and the ESRB make a good case here. It's important to remember that the offending DS cart was not purchased through retail channels, but rather was mailed out by Nintendo's own PR department.


Comments

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

Changing catchphrases has been around since the original Animal Crossing. I remember changing one of my town resident's catchphrase to bitch. It was great, he would greet me and say things like " hey, long time no see bitch," or "it's a lovely day isn't it bitch?" Good times... Anyway, I guess the problem is that the DS game saves directly to the cartridge, so if you sell your game to someone else without erasing the memory they may just get offended by having town residents call them bitch or some other bad name. Of course similar actions can be taken in other games, like naming your character in Zelda PH fagballs.   

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

Though it seems very convienient... it looks as though most people are forgetting that kids learned foul language in a time before video games. I learned it on the school bus... maybe we should see about banning those too.

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" - Benjamin Franklin

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" - Benjamin Franklin

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

This is really no different than using the initals ASS when you got a high score at these things that were called Arcades.

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

This is why you put in a regex based swearing filter in the game. At least make them work to put in the nasty stuff. My AC:WW town's name is Dämnation.

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

Have you looked at the actual expression? It uses alternate versions of letters out the wazoo. That's one hell of a regex.

 

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

Yes but regex based word filters don't work well enough to be used in such a scenario. There are too many ways around them and too many ways to get a false positive. Do I regex out Dick when used as a name?

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

Only if you aren't good at using regexes. You can do pretty much anything with them if you understand the dark magic behind them

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate

oh man I wonder what will happen when a little 8 year old comes to his mother and says "mommy whats this word mean?" Thank you nintendo ,child friendly my ass.

I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

This is why we don't need game ratings.  All they do is cause controversy and hold games back from being presented how the designers want them to be presented.  And if the parents don't like the game they bought it will be their fault for not researching the game before buying it, not the game industry.

--- Official Protector of Videoland!

--- Official Protector of Videoland!

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

The ratings don't cause the controversy, the content does.  The ESRB didn't look at the word, "nigga", and decide, "Oh, that's okay for everybody! E it is!"  As for your statement regarding the designer's original vision, I'm pretty sure the makers of Animal Crossing didn't have racial slurs in mind when they were going for that "E" rating.  Finally, it already IS the parent's fault if they buy a game without researching it.  The ESRB can't be expected to anticipate user-generated content, as Mizrachi said.

I swear, no offense, but do you even read the articles before you post?  Or the articles that GP links to?  It's a good strategy to avoid sounding silly.

"There is no sin except stupidity." - Oscar Wilde

"De minimus non curat lex"

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

Good for the ESRB and Gamestop.

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

Correct me if I'm wrong, but was Hot Coffee technically user-generated? It was embedded in the original code but it was users who found it and exploited it. It's sort of the same situation here. There was an ability to put racial slurs and other bad language into the game due to gameplay elements and someone just exploited it.

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

 The Hot Coffee content is T2's fault, not the community who created the mod to open it to the user. The logic, as I see it, is that the material existed regardless of the mod, and was only brought to light by said mod. An analogy would be if you owned an electric razor that blew up if you dropped it in water while running. Its the company who made the razors responsibility to protect John Q. Public from exploding razors.

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

It is T2s fault but it's still the community to created the mod to exploit it. To my knowledge this game allows you to put names into the game and while it came form the PR department, it mean that you can add your own content to it. Whether or not you add offensive content is your prerogative, just like adding the Hot Coffee mod.

I get that T2 put the Hot Coffee content in and so that would warrant backlash, but to rate the game AO when you need to exploit the content yourself is not far from this situation. It's rated E but anyone can easily turn it into something offensive so by the previous logic the ESRB used, shouldn't that warrant a higher rating?

They were rating game content with Hot Coffee but they still rated something based on what the community did with it.

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

If I recall correctly, you could access hot coffee on the console versions.

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

You still had to hack your console and download and install the mod in order to access it.

@Inimical

The difference is that the Hot Coffee animations and game were physically on the retail disk. This user generated content is not physically on the retail disk. The ESRB rates all content on the retail version of the game now whether it is accessible or not out of the box.

That is the difference.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

I don't know.  I still side with T2 over Hot Coffee.  Yes, the content was in there and on the disc.  Lots of companies, when cutting content, often just cut the connection to the content rather than remove it altogether.  After all, you never know what will introduce bugs and what won't.  So T2 took the very common route and simply removed the code which linked to the events.  Problem solved, right?

Unless, of course, someone violates the EULA and backwards engineers the missing code.  Which is exactly what happened.  While it's true the content was provided by T2, in order to access it, you had to break an agreement you clicked "yes" to in order to do so.  What was on the disc is irrelevant if you have to hack your copy to access it.  ESRBs behavior in that particular case holds developers responsible for what hacks can and cannot do (read: Oblivion rerating).  Which begs the ultimate question, if the uncensor hack for Sims actually should change that rating?  Likewise I could remove one texture in my Citizen Kabuto copy and make the lead topless and bammo, that would have gotten the game AO from the time it was released.

Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

What M-rated content in the Sims does your uncensor cheat reveal? When I use it, I see Barbie-doll anatomy (or perhaps more accurately, lack thereof). My seven-year-old niece plays with Barbie dolls.

Maybe T2 got screwed by Hot Coffee, but T2 should not have tried to lie their way out of it from the start. In any case, the only reason Hot Coffee matters now is the precedent it set: If it's on the disc it's up for rating and EULAs don't have anything to do with it.

Good point about teh Sea Reapers in Citizen Kabuto.

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

somewhat poor analogy, chances are the razor would have a generic warning about mixing water with electricity.

岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

岩「…I can see why Hasselbeck's worried about fake guns killing fake people. afterall, she's a fake journalist on a fake news channel」

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

Well Newgrounds rates hundreds of user generated content every day.

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

Newgrounds doesn't rate it. The submitter rates it and if it is reported as not accurate, Newgrounds will change it or delete it.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

Rates as in, age rating or rating as in how bad is sucks? :P

------------------------------------

I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate.

------------------------------------ I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate.

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

"was not purchased through retail channels, but rather was mailed out by Nintendo's own PR department."

Ya, i bet someones kid that works for nintendo's pr department is grounded for like, a year right now :)

------------------------------------

I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate.

------------------------------------ I am a signature virus, please copy and paste me into your signature to help me propagate.

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

And despite that quote, there are still people who somehow believe all 14 copies sent from Nintendo magically stumbled across the same user generated content on WiFi....

Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

Re: ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial

 How can they possibly hope to rate user content? A game with open ended interfaces can swing from E for everyone to AO for pixelated breasts. No matter what they rate it, they are going to do it and the consumer a disservice.

 What they need is a new rating: User Driven Content -> U

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
MechaTama31AE: Probably snarky commentary on this: http://www.gamepolitics.com/2014/08/29/principle-player-leland-yee-arms-trading-case-dies08/30/2014 - 8:43pm
Andrew EisenConster - Don't know. Got a link to whatever you're referring to?08/30/2014 - 7:04pm
ConsterWait, what's this about Leland Yee eliminating witnesses?08/30/2014 - 5:50pm
IanCBroke my EA boycott to pick up Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare. Loving it. Still hate EA though. But i like Popcap. Gah.08/30/2014 - 6:01am
MaskedPixelantehttp://m.tickld.com/x/something-you-never-realized-about-guardians-of-the-galaxy Right in the feels.08/29/2014 - 6:56pm
AvalongodAgain I think we're conflating the issue of whether Sarkeesian's claims are beyond critique (no they're not) and whether its ever appropriate to use sexist language, let alone physical threats on a woman to intimidate her (no it isn't)08/29/2014 - 5:04pm
prh99Trolling her or trying to assail her integrity just draws more attention (Streisand effect?). Which is really not what the trolls want, so the only way to win (if there is a win to be had) is not to play/troll.08/29/2014 - 5:02pm
prh99Who cares, just don't watch the damn videos if you don't like her. Personally, I don't care as far as she is concerned as long there are interesting games to be played.08/29/2014 - 4:34pm
Andrew EisenZip - And yet, you can't cite a single, solitary example. (And no one said you hated anyone. Along those lines, no one claimed Sarkeesian was perfect either.)08/29/2014 - 3:51pm
Andrew EisenSaint's Row: Gat Out of Hell was just announced for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One making it the 150th game For Everything But Wii U! Congratulations Deep Silver!08/29/2014 - 3:49pm
ZippyDSMleeI do not hate them jsut think its mostly hyperlobe.08/29/2014 - 3:40pm
Andrew EisenSleaker - I'd say that's likely. From my experience, most who have a problem with Sarkeesian's videos either want to hate them in the first place (for whatever reason) or honestly misunderstand what they're about and what they're saying.08/29/2014 - 3:16pm
james_fudgeWe appreciate your support :)08/29/2014 - 2:55pm
TechnogeekIt gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, the gaming community is not statistically indistinguishable from consisting entirely of people that your average Xbox Live caricature would look at and go "maybe you should tone it down a little bit".08/29/2014 - 2:49pm
TechnogeekI just want to say that while I've disagreed with the staff of this site on several occasions, it's still good to see that they're not automatically dismissing Anita's videos as a "misandrist scam" or whatever the preferred dismissive term is these days.08/29/2014 - 2:49pm
E. Zachary KnightZippy, So you can't find even one?08/29/2014 - 1:04pm
ZippyDSMleeAndrew Eisen:Right because shes prefect and never exaggerates... *rolls eyes*08/29/2014 - 12:53pm
SleakerAnd honestly, nearly all of the games she references, or images she depicts I've always cringed at and wondered why they were included in games to begin with, from pinups through explicit sexual depictions or direct abuse. I think it's cheap storytelling.08/29/2014 - 12:35pm
Sleaker@AE - aren't most people fundamentally misunderstanding her at this point? haha.. On a related note I think a lot of the backlash is coming from males that think she is telling them their 'Generic Male Fantasy' is bad and wrong.08/29/2014 - 12:33pm
Andrew EisenAnd no, I don't think the female community would be upset over the performance of a case study in and of itself. Possibly the mostivations behind such a study, the methodology or conclusions but not the mere idea of a case study.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician