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ESRB Demands Audit

ESRB Demands Publisher Audit For Hidden Game Content (thanks Gamecloud) reports that the Entertainment Software Rating Board has emailed all major video game publishers restating that: "Fully disclosing hidden content accessible as Easter eggs and via cheat codes has always been part of ESRB's explicitly stated requirements when submitting games to be rated." The following excerpt also includes a puzzling bit about how the board is "concerned" about how third party modifications impact the "credibility" of the ratings system:

Most interestingly, the ESRB has announced, with the support of its Board of Directors, a request that all game publishers complete a comprehensive review of all games launched since September 1, 2004. This internal publisher-run audit is intended to determine if non-playable, pertinent content, not previously disclosed to the ESRB, remains in the final code on the discs released to the public.

Publishers must inform the ESRB of any possible issues regarding hidden content by January 9, 2006, and the ratings board may re-rate titles if any of this content changes the potential rating for the game.

The email then specifies: "If you fail to notify us of previously undisclosed, non-playable, pertinent content by January 9, and such content becomes playable through a subsequent authorized or unauthorized release of code to unlock it, rendering the original rating assignment inaccurate, punitive in addition to corrective actions may result." It is as yet unclear exactly what punitive actions the ESRB may sanction, or is capable of carrying out.

Finally, the ESRB addresses third-party 'mod' content which could potentially change the game's suitability, but was not inserted by the game's developer, commenting: "ESRB remains concerned about third party modifications that undermine the accuracy of the original rating, and we are exploring ways to maintain the credibility of the rating system with consumers in light of modifications of this nature."

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58 Replies. 3 pages. Viewing page 1.
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58. Re: No subject Sep 14, 2005, 21:52 Riley Pizt
 
Yep, Riley knew better than to hang out around the "Ships Ahoy - HL2GotY" thread anymore
I wasted three hours of my life on that thread and another hour on finding, making, and posting the video clips. That was more than enough to prove my points. Anyone who doesn't see the validity in them after all of that is either a Valve lackey or simply being a contrarian because of his enmity for me.

As for "The Anti Riley Pitz," he needs to re-register since he spelled the name wrong. It is "Pizt".

This comment was edited on Sep 14, 23:26.
 
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57. Re: . Sep 14, 2005, 21:47 Riley Pizt
 
Sony and Microsoft have 100% control over their respective markets... If a game doesn't meet their seal of approval, it doesn't get released...
Well given the large number of abyssmal games which have been released for their respective consoles, I would say that their seals of approval are simply rubber stamps.


 
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56. Re: No subject Sep 14, 2005, 12:53 d@rK 93n6u1N
 
"Hmm...I see the troll has spread his filth and infestitations to this point as well....these territories are growing darker."

Yep, Riley knew better than to hang out around the "Ships Ahoy - HL2GotY" thread anymore, with that whole "we hate you, Riley!" thing going on. And, surprise! What does he have to share in this thread? A comment on Valve/Steam! Imagine!

This sad fellow's ...issues... with Valve & Steam border on the pathological, and his need to continually share and argue and defend and explain and reiterate them is a cry for help. Get that help, Riley! This isn't really about Valve/Steam, it's about whatever they represent in your tortured psyche. You can get past this, but you can't do it alone. You're not going to find the help you need in a games forum. Unlike here, your counselor will be genuinely interested in how you feel towards Steam, and why you feel that way, and can help you let go and get on with your life. There IS life after Steam - you'll see!

This comment was edited on Sep 14, 12:57.
 
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55. Re: . Sep 14, 2005, 12:03 Optimaximal
 
but like I said, it's two different situations all together...

Valve control the distribution of THEIR games, and any game using this Trymedia thing will also be contained to the games that use it...

Sony and Microsoft have 100% control over their respective markets... If a game doesn't meet their seal of approval, it doesn't get released... end of...

 
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54. Re: No subject Sep 14, 2005, 01:00 Prez
 
Prez, this is a new side of you - and I like it!

Sorry... menopause.


 
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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
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53. No subject Sep 13, 2005, 19:08 The Anti Riley Pitz
 
Hmm...I see the troll has spread his filth and infestitations to this point as well....these territories are growing darker.


 
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52. Re: . Sep 13, 2005, 14:46 Bhruic
 
This is not a goddamned Valve/Steam thread.

Actually, there is some relevance here. The only reason companies go with the ESRB rating is because there are major stores that won't carry non rated games. If companies can move to an online distribution system, then there is no longer any need to go through the ratings process. Take Sin 2, for example. If they were to decide they weren't going to sell a boxed version, and just do the Steam system, why bother getting rated?

Of course, if enough companies stopped being rated, with the current political climate, I'm sure the government would want to step in.

 
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51. Re: No subject Sep 13, 2005, 14:30 RegularX
 
Read the last paragraph again. It certainly sounds ominous, even though I doubt they could do anything.

It's not just ominous, it's outright confusing AND ominous:

http://cathodetan.blogspot.com/2005/09/make-up-your-mind-esrb.html

This comment was edited on Sep 13, 14:31.
 
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50. Re: . Sep 13, 2005, 13:51 DG
 
Fully third party modifications are totally outwith the authority, control or reponsibility of the publisher. I dont see any possibility for any "exploring ways" to impact either the dev or the publisher, law simply excludes designating responsibility for something you have no control over.

 
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49. Re: . Sep 13, 2005, 13:42 nin
 
This is not a goddamned Valve/Steam thread. Go back to the active one if you want to continue with your nonsense.

Prez, this is a new side of you - and I like it!



--------------------------------------------------------------
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Don't look at me that way. It was An Honest Mistake. http://www.thebravery.com/
 
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48. Re: . Sep 13, 2005, 13:39 DG
 
The problem is Rockstar knowingly left material in the game that was never meant to be accessed, full well knowing that the PC Community would find it.
It wasnt necessarily intentional that the code was left there to be found. Most likely the feature was evaluated and they decided to cut it from the game, so the coder does it the quickest and easiest way - by simply commenting it out.

It's often preferable to do this because there may be something elsewhere that depends on a subset of the unwanted feature's code. If say, the publisher says the game is good as gold except for this one feature, and they want it gold by Friday, the programmer takes the quick & easy route to remove it without requiring a whole new round of testing.

Of course it's plausable they deliberately left it there to be found, but given their previous attitude towards modifications has left rather a lot to be desired, that seems less likely than the above.

BTW I still mean to imply it was Rockstar's responsibility to fully remove the obviously offensive code, merely suggesting it's plausable they failed by error rather than intention.

 
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47. Re: . Sep 13, 2005, 12:53 Prez
 
This is not a goddamned Valve/Steam thread. Go back to the active one if you want to continue with your nonsense.

 
Avatar 17185
 
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
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46. Re: . Sep 13, 2005, 12:24 Riley Pizt
 
Valve only make you install Steam if you want to play HL2 or their other games,
Being the single-source of supply Valve does control what you pay. Being an online authentication system, Valve does decide how, when, and if you can play as well as what content is offered.

Macrovision bought Trymedia which uses a similar game activation and delivery system which wants to be the future of PC game delivery and use.

If either Steam or Trymedia/Macrovision's systems become dominant as their respective companies would like, they will control not only when and if you can play but also what content is available in at least as much as Sony or Microsoft do for their respective consoles.

This comment was edited on Sep 14, 21:42.
 
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45. Re: No subject Sep 13, 2005, 12:05 Lost One
 
Hard to believe all of this is over a video game that wasn't supposed to be sold to minors in the first place. Overreact much?

What ever happened to parents being responsible for their kids? Oh, I forgot, that's the government's job now.

Swanky
 
<insert funny signature here>
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44. Re: No subject Sep 13, 2005, 11:53 Prez
 
Let's analyze this a bit differently. What is the harm if there is a law penalizing a retailer for selling an 'M' or 'AO' related game to a minor (like the legislation pending in Illinois and Michigan)? Theoretically, it will not affect any of you at all, right? So, what's the problem? Anyone?

 
Avatar 17185
 
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
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43. No subject Sep 13, 2005, 11:06 space captain
 
Don't they teach proper capitalization in high school either?

you might want to learn how to spell controversial (its not spelled "contriversal") before you try to act smart

because its not working... its pretty amusing tho

________________________
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42. Re: No subject Sep 13, 2005, 10:15 Semantics
 
so patch 1.04 is rated R becuase it has "some" content, while patch 1.06 brings the rating back down to a PG

There was something like this with Dungeon Siege, where one of the later patches reduced the gore. Very annoying. I'm not sure why they did that.

 
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41. Re: No subject Sep 13, 2005, 10:14 Semantics
 
The same can be said of any product, modification outside the original intents and purpose of the product can not be held against the developers of it, how anyone could even begin to think that it does baffles me.

They're going to have to start rating Photoshop AO, because you can view naked images with it.

 
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40. Re: It sounds very tough Sep 13, 2005, 09:31 kimbambaman
 
But the ESRB has no power to inflict "punitive" actions, if by that they mean financial penalties or anything. The worst they could do is either make the game AO, or actually REMOVE their rating from said game.

Exactly. They have no legislative authority to impose any kind of financial sanctions.

Put a damn sticker on the box that says "The ESRB rating is only valid for the game as is included in this box. Any modification made to this game by any source will invalidate the rating."

Isn't this what they do already for on-line games? Something along the lines of "experience may change with on-line play". Basically a T-rated game does not stop people from cursing or using racial epithets, assuming they can get around the chat filter. So do the same for this, as Creston said.

Anyway, isn't participation in the ESRB voluntary anyway? If a publisher decides to drop ratings all together and ignore ESRB guidelines, there is nothing legally stopping them from doing so.


"You win again gravity!"-Zap Brannigan
This comment was edited on Sep 13, 09:32.
 
"Everybody out of the universe!" - Nibbler, Futurama
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39. Re: No subject Sep 13, 2005, 09:30 c r i s p y
 
Game exp. may change during online play
game exp. may change due to 3rd party modifications
game exp. may change because of different hardware
game exp. may change becuase of weather
game exp. may change because of . . .

Pretty soon there'll be no room on the box for the name of the product. I hate lawyers.
 
---
Chris.
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