Is It Time to Have the Sex Talk? Don't Forget Nudity Mods in Video Games

Posted by | February 24, 2014 | Tips for Parents | 2 Comments
downtown hot coffee

When do the words “hot” and “coffee” elicit discomfort and sexual innuendo, instead of joy at the beginning of the day? You might remember hearing about it in conjunction with the Grand Theft Auto series a few years back. In 2005, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was in the news for its now-infamous Hot Coffee mod. The mod reportedly featured on-screen, interactive oral sex. Of course this raised the hackles of parents everywhere, for good reason—the scene wasn’t included in any ESRB ratings because it wasn’t officially part of the game.

What Are Nudity Mods?

This is the third entry in our Sex in Video Games series. Mods, or modifications, made by third-party organizations or individuals, are exceedingly common (particularly in PC gaming), and have the potential to undo every rating and kid-friendly aspect of a game. That is, if you download them.

Mods aren’t part of the package of a game you pick up in the store or download from Steam. However, PC gaming is the realm of tinkerers and programmers; lots of gamers like going into a game’s coding and trying things out. Some truly remarkable mods have come out of this practice, such as the recent Skyrim-level graphics mod for a much older game, Morrowind. Some games even encourage modification—LittleBigPlanet, for instance, has a create-your-own-level space, and some of the player-created levels are fantastic. Most downloadable mods, however, are not affiliated with game manufacturers and developers.

However, as in most spaces where people have free rein, sex and nudity come into the equation frequently. In terms of programming, making a character have realistic (or less realistic, depending on your tastes) nude “costumes” is just as easy as coding a new outfit of any other type. Nudity mods are quite popular, for obvious reasons, and people have developed these mods for a variety of different types of games.

Sex mods are also available in some cases, though these are rarer, since they are more difficult to code. I would argue that few of these mods are very realistic due to the high degree of expertise it takes to animate this type of thing, but they still may be something you’d prefer your kids to avoid.

What Is Hot Coffee?

Hot Coffee is probably one of the most famous mods of all time. It is named for the “coffee invitation” issued by Carl “CJ” Johnson’s in-game girlfriend in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The invitation was, of course, not really about coffee, but rather the offer of a sexual act. The scene features fully clothed characters engaging in sex. There is no nudity in the scene.

The normal version of the game allows CJ to choose a girlfriend and date her. If these dating missions are successful, he will be invited in for “coffee,” thus leading to a scene wherein the player witnesses only the sounds of sex.  (Notably, this occurs after a previous scene in which the character is implied to receive oral sex on screen.)

The modded version of this scene involves an actual minigame. When individuals with some level of programming expertise entered the game’s code and noticed that there were unused assets, they modified the code to re-enable the deleted scene. In this minigame, players were able to enter the room with the girlfriend and engage in fully clothed sex with her.

Hot Coffee was covered widely in traditional and digital venues in 2005, and a lot of folks assumed that the mod was actually a part of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Although it had originally come from the game developers, Hot Coffee was not released as a normal part of the Grand Theft Auto experience.

Once the mod came to light, however, the game was re-rated with a more adult rating. Since then, the game has been re-released with all traces of Hot Coffee removed. This particular mod has been cited as evidence of the ESRB’s failures, trickery of game industry officials, and inappropriateness of video games in general, especially for kids.

It’s important to note that—as with other mods—Hot Coffee was not easily accessible. The difference between this mod and the vast majority of others is that the minigame came from within the game company, rather than from external sources. Nothing as extreme as Hot Coffee has occurred since.

What If My Kids Are Downloading Nudity Mods?

The bad news? It’s not easy to stop them. Just like with any type of pornography, if kids want to look it up, they’ll look it up. You can put as many parental blocks on your system as you wish, but they may still find a way around it if they’re really curious or determined.

The first step should be communication, as with any adult concept you don’t think your kids are ready for. You want you to be the first person they go to with questions or concerns. If you find your kids have discovered nudity mods, make sure you discuss with them why they bother you, and give real reasons. Here are a few:

  • I don’t like how these mods objectify women and make them into toys for you to play with.
  • I don’t like the unrealistic version of sexuality that these mods promote.
  • It bothers me that you—and I—don’t know where these mods are coming from, or what type of content they will contain.
  • I’m worried about viruses.

It’s also important to ask questions—communication is what you’re looking for. Keep an open mind—a lot of kids download mods like this because they think they’re funny, or simply because they were curious. If they are interested in the pornographic elements of the mods, make sure they’re being exposed to healthier examples  of sexuality instead (or at least as well). Scarleteen is a great place to start.

  • Do you think these mods are a realistic version of nudity and/or sex? Why or why not?
  • Why do you think the person who made these mods did it?
  • What do you think of pornography?

This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of discussion topics, but hopefully it’ll give you a place to start.

 (Part 1) Sex in Video Games: A Series

(Part 2) Erotic Japanese Games: Can Kids Play Them?

 

Keezy Young

About Keezy Young

Keezy is a gamer, illustrator, and designer. Her background is in teaching and tutoring kids from ages 9 to 19, and she's led workshops for young women in STEM. She is also holds a certificate in teaching English. Her first memory of gaming is when her dad taught her to play the first Warcraft when she was five. You can find her at Key of Zee and on Twitter @KeezyBees.