How do you like your hot coffee? If you're Jack Thompson, you like it scalding game publisher's laps. The Miami attorney and antigaming activist has done his share to see that games don't fall into the wrong hands. And lately, those hands have belonged to almost everyone.
Thompson was among those who spearheaded the recent effort to slap an "Adults Only" rating on Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and he's often been on the forefront of many other gaming issues, several of which have targeted the crime-spree-based GTA franchise. In the past, he's represented defendants who have been the victims of GTA-inspired crimes, including the triple homicide of three police officers by an 18-year-old boy in Alabama.
His beef with San Andreas? Unused code in the game that depicts sexual acts. These minigames can be unlocked by using game-cheat devices or patches available on the Internet.
Thompson is on a roll...and he's not done yet. His latest goat is a game that doesn't involve guns, carjacking, or prostitutes: He's going after Electronic Arts' The Sims 2.
In a manifesto sent today to press outlets, Thompson focuses on dismantling the Entertainment Software Ratings Board and exposing what he calls the industry's "latest dirty little secret." The secret's out now, and it involves nude sims.
In the statement, Thompson says, "Sims 2, the latest version of the Sims video game franchise ... contains, according to video game news sites, full frontal nudity, including nipples, penises, labia, and pubic hair."
The Sims 2 is a "life simulator." In the game, players steer their digital beings around their cyberlives. Actions include everything from the spectacular (getting married, having children, receiving promotions at work) to the mundane (cooking microwaved meals, going to the bathroom, mopping the floor). Such activities, as in real life, sometimes require nudity. EA circumvents inappropriateness by "blurring" out the nether regions, almost to a comical sense.
Knowing that the game is popular among all ages, EA has even taken steps to ensure that Sims fans aren't exposed to indecent depictions. In the recent expansion pack, The Sims 2 University, gamers can send their teenage sims off to college. However, instead of packing the expansion with "keggers" and "reefer," EA chose to use juice and bubble blowers.
Thompson doesn't seem to care. He cites a cheat code that can remove the blur that covers the nether regions. "The nudity placed there by the publisher/maker, Electronic Arts, is accessed by the use of a simple code that removes what is called 'the blur' which obscures the genital areas. In other words, the game was released to the public by the manufacturer knowing that the full frontal nudity was resident on the game and would be accessed by use of a simple code widely provided on the Internet."
It's not just the adults that are liberated from their wardrobes. Sims kids can also be nudified, "much to the delight, one can be sure, of pedophiles around the globe who can rehearse, in virtual reality, for their abuse."
Were this to be true, Thompson would have his smoking gun, and EA would be forced to recall all copies of The Sims 2. However, it's what's under the blur that Thompson's after. And what happens when the blur is lifted? A simple mannequin-esque smooth body, according to EA.
Jeff Brown, vice president of corporate communications at EA, in response to the accusations, told GameSpot, "This is nonsense. We've reviewed 100 percent of the content. There is no content inappropriate for a teen audience. Players never see a nude sim. If someone with an extreme amount of expertise and time were to remove the pixels, they would see that the sims have no genitals. They appear like Ken and Barbie."
Thompson doesn't buy it. "The sex and the nudity are in the game. That's the point. The blur is an admission that even the 'Ken and Barbie' features should not be displayed. The blur can be disarmed. This is no different than what is in San Andreas, although worse."
[UPDATE] Thompson this afternoon updated his earlier statement, saying he is aware certain mods only remove "the blur," but adds that "Electronic Arts has done nothing about this." Thompson's new conclusion: EA is "cooperating, gleefully, with the mod community to turn Sims 2 into a porn offering."
The last time we checked, The Sims 2 was rated T for Teen by the ESRB, which means that anyone 13 years of age, with $50 to spend, can purchase the game.