Rockstar VS the Fans: What is it you really want?

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“Overwhelmingly negative”  is not something you want to see on a game that has such a hardcore following is Grand Theft Auto. If you are new to the franchise and you were excited to see a new game come out and wanted to hop on that train, then get ready with your fists up because the blows are flying.  Grand Theft Auto V is not unlike other games in the Grand Theft Auto series or franchise aside from the fact that mods are absolutely 100% band. That’s right, one of the most fun things to do in a PC game is use mods and Grand Theft Auto is no stranger to having its mods be a source of controversy for the media. The big deal was back in 2014 when some then supposed hackers modded the game that would allow them to virtually rape another player in the game. At this point in our lives and at this point in the discussion of mods and violence in video games, you might just shrug your shoulders and say that’s what happens. After all even in Halo you can get tea-bagged mercilessly without a mod. The big deal is that teabagging really and rages the majority of male video gamers. Not to say that the rape mod was and raging female Gamers but it definitely concerned parents when they’re young children would log into the game to find their character being raped.

Think I’m kidding?

When the accusations begin to fly towards Rockstar that their game included rape, they blatantly denied it. Granted what they said is true; their game does not include rape it was implemented by the fans. But in Rockstar’s defense their’s is not the only game where this happens. Aside from massive teabagging there was also an incident in the game DayZ where a female gamer complained that she had been cornered by two male characters and was murdered and then they simulated having sex on her corpse. Modded or simulated character rape in games is not something new but has come into the light once again with the mod restrictions for Grand Theft Auto V.

A vast majority of mods for video games are surprisingly not harmful. There’s a favorite for Skyrim that turns dragons into various characters from Thomas the Tank Engine. Even in Grand Theft Auto there were mods for ridiculous things like riding a UFO or submerging the game’s entire world underwater. But like most things, Grand Theft Auto fell into the hands of the trolls. Trolling is a natural part of online play and should be expected by new Gamers and old Gamers alike. The trolling has usually been tolerated as you could mute a character or block a player. Some mods in Grand Theft Auto, like going around without your pants, didn’t really hurt anyone aside from being mildly disturbing. But that all changed when the rape mod was created and you could suddenly make characters that were not your own do things against their will. The mod in question literally comes with a menu that you can choose from and force on to other players.gta revierws.PNG

Even having your character forced into something they might not want to do or you might not want to happen to them could seem like something that should just be shrugged off. However, the issue was that the mod glitched your game and there was nothing you could do after you had been raped. Your character would be stuck in the bent-over position or would randomly begin another action inside the mod menu such as pole dancing. You also couldn’t do anything to the character assaulting you. The mod had control of your character and essentially made the one raping you invincible.The subreddit for Grand Theft Auto V is full of complaints like this one. After several incidents like this and the subreddit exploding with stories and YouTube being flooded with GTA online rape scenes, Rockstar stepped in but only with a toe. They said that people who cheated to get millions or even trillions of dollars and use such mods would be punished at Rockstar’s discretion. Much to the dissatisfaction of some players, there was a large majority of modders and rapers that were never punished.

Flash Forward to 2017 and the release of Grand Theft Auto 5’s mod restrictions.  Rockstar Games parent company Take-Two was so fed up with the legal action that was threatened against them that they banned the popular modding tool  OpenIV. They didn’t just ban and have the modding tool shut down. No they ordered a cease-and-desist to the developers of OpenIV. This might just sound like a slap on the hand of an adult telling you to cut it out, but a cease-and-desist order is a legal order. This means that if you do not stop the action that is being asked of you, then it can be taken up in court and set before a judge. For a small-time developer that just wants to create mods for people to have fun, this comes out of the darkness scarier than a Freddy Fazbear. It means that you have to stop the action they’re asking you to or you will be in some deep legal trouble.

The tool was banned for Grand Theft Auto and the backlash was unbearable for Rockstar Games. All one has to do is sign in to Steam and look at the reviews for Grand Theft Auto V to see that they are overwhelmingly negative. A brave soul opened up an account on change.org to have fans sign a petition and rage and flame until Rockstar Games relented and tackled its parent, becoming the rebellious teenager we all hoped it would be. Slapping its parent company in the face, Rockstar Games has decided that OpenIV will be usable again. Surprisingly enough just the other day Rockstar actually said that it believes in the responsibility of its fans to play the game like the adults it was intended for. They also stated that they hope Take-Two will not actually be taking legal action.

Rockstar was questioned about single player mods as the general concern seems to be for Grand Theft Auto online. Rockstar replied saying “Rockstar Games believes in reasonable fan creativity, and, in particular, wants creators to showcase their passion for our games. After discussions with Take-Two, Take-Two has agreed that it generally will not take legal action against third-party projects involving Rockstar’s PC games that are single-player, non-commercial, and respect the intellectual property  rights of third parties. This does not apply to  multiplayer or online services; tools, files, libraries, or functions that could be used to impact multiplayer or online services, or use or importation of other IP in the project.”

Passion for the games? Responsible creativity? At least they said it doesn’t apply to multiplayer or online services. No matter where you stand on the topic or whether you think it’s an expression of free speech or not, mods are technically allowed in any game. The only thing that is currently super punished in the gaming world is scripting and that usually has to do with eSports and competitive play.  Think of it like using hormones or steroids for athletes. Yes, it will ruin the playing experience for you, but it’s not illegal and is not necessarily punishable. And really we should all be standing applauding Rockstar for standing up to their parent company and defending their fans. It’s an extremely unpleasant sight to come in and see that your character has been raped or to see it being done and to be absolutely helpless. But what are you going to say to the griefers in Minecraft? To the people who come in and destroy your entire house that no doubt took you hours to create?  It’s all a form of trolling and so long as they are not harming your actual bank account or your physical person, the damage is repairable.

And in case you were wondering, the petition on change.org has almost 80,000 people signing it. That’s a lot of people that play one game. If you have those 80000 people trash-talking your game to their friends that’s at least a whopping 100,000 people who will not be buying your games in the future. Or if they think you’re going to be a weak developer under the toe of your parent company, then they might not risk it and play your game even then.

On a brighter note for those who enjoy it, Rockstar has said that it is in contact with the developer of OpenIV and that they will be discussing the situation. Whatever the outcome it will be better than completely shutting down the modding tool. However, Rockstar did mention that their rules do not apply to multiplayer or online services including functions that could be used to impact the other players. So while you may not be able to forcibly and virtually rape your fellow players, you will still be able to mod using OpenIV.  This will have gamers asking themselves what it is they were actually upset about. Will you be satisfied with the outcome that Rockstar has with the developers of the mod tool? Or will you, as a gamer, be enraged that you cannot virtually rape those around you?

We know that there are other mods in there that are malicious that don’t include rapes but the point is they are all focused on other players in an extremely harassing way. Of course you get pleasure from harassing another person, you’re the one in charge and in power! But if you have to come to a video game for a power trip then you should mod yourself a new life.

The point is, both sides are speaking to each other and there will no doubt be a resolution soon. We should all be rejoicing that Rockstar has stepped up on  behalf of its fans and those with the creative thumb that want to enhance the game. While some mods are obviously terrible to experience, the fact that gamers love your game so much that they want to enhance the experience for themselves and share it with others shows true creative heart and love for the game. And how often does a developer actually stand up for its fans? In the history of video games it has definitely been a very rare sight. In some cases it is the gamers versus the creators. Fortunately, Rockstar isn’t being offended at the decision for gamers to mod the game, declaring it more enjoyable. They are touched that fans want to have creative in put on their games. Like a brave warrior, Rockstar has stood up to its parent, slapped them across the face, and declared that we shall have our freedom.

As it stands, OpenIV is still banned and you cannot use the mods even in single player. However, with a little responsible chatter between the developers of OpenIV and Rockstar, hopefully we will see mods return at least to single player games.  As gamers though, we should be asking each other what is it we miss about the mod?  Was it the power play or was it the ability to fly around on UFO spaceships?  Rockstar thinks its fans are responsible…Think about it, gamers!

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