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January 27, 2006

LA Sues "Grand Theft Auto" Maker For Hidden Porn

Courtesy of TechWeb News

The Los Angeles city attorney on Thursday sued the makers of "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," saying that the companies illegally hid porn in their popular video game.

City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, who is running for California's Attorney General post in this year's primary, said that the game's developer, Rockstar Games, and its parent company, Take-Two Entertainment, didn't disclose the pornographic content in the game when it went before the video game industry rating board. The board initially awarded Grand Theft Auto a "Mature 17+" (M) rating; if it had known of the hidden content, it would have, Delgadillo alleged, given it the much more restrictive "Adults Only 18+" (AO) rating.

Grand Theft Auto made the news in July 2005 when a mod was published by an independent programmer and widely distributed on the Internet that unlocked graphic sex scenes in the game. In reaction, the industry board changed the game's rating to AO, which resulted in most stores pulling the title from their shelves.

Several weeks later, Take-Two admitted that the sex scenes were built into the retail version of the game, and released a patch to remove them, immediately leading wags to dub it the "least-downloaded patch ever."

"Greed and deception are part of the 'Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' story," said Delgadillo in a statement. "In that respect its publishers are not much different from the characters in their story."

Grand Theft Auto features murderers, drug dealers, pimps, and prostitutes.

Delgadillo's lawsuit is asking for fines of $2,500 for each violation of two state business codes, as well as an unspecified portion of the game's profits.

Take-Two's stock had dropped 16.9 percent, or $2.87, to $14.16 by mid-day Friday.

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