Sam Houser Speaks About Hot Coffee - 8 April 2011 - Grand Theft Auto IV
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Sam Houser Speaks About Hot Coffee
An interesting interview with Rockstar's Sam Houser shows the turmoil and distress he and his staff were under following the Hot Coffee scandal from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The interview comes from the book All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture which features many interviews from various game developers about their work and the hardships behind them.

"Through the stories of gaming's greatest innovations and most beloved creations, journalist Harold Goldberg captures the creativity, controversy--and passion--behind the videogame's meteoric rise to the top of the pop-culture pantheon.

Over the last fifty years, video games have grown from curiosities to fads to trends to one of the world's most popular forms of mass entertainment. But as the gaming industry grows in numerous directions and everyone talks about the advance of the moment, few explore and seek to understand the forces behind this profound evolution. How did we get from Space Invaders to Grand Theft Auto? How exactly did gaming become a $50 billion industry and a dominant pop culture form? What are the stories, the people, the innovations, and the fascinations behind this incredible growth?

Through extensive interviews with gaming's greatest innovators, both its icons and those unfairly forgotten by history, All Your Base Are Belong To Us sets out to answer these questions, exposing the creativity, odd theories--and passion--behind the twenty-first century's fastest-growing medium."

The part that interests us the most of course, is from Sam Houser. Wired posted an excerpt from the book that gives us some insight into the hardships suffered from the ordeal:

Sam had been thinking what a good life he was living. His son had just been born. He had just bought a country house with his brother. Maybe now he could relax a bit. Then he read about Hot Coffee on a message board. Immediately he had a sinking feeling.

A Dutch techie named Patrick Wildenborg had used some self-created code to open up the PC version of San Andreas. Inside, he discovered a locked portion of the game that featured the gangster character CJ having what amounted to R-rated sex in various positions with a girlfriend. (Without Wildenborg’s software key, all you heard were the sounds of passion.) Soon, the modder’s program went viral and thousands upon thousands were playing the sexual mini-game called Hot Coffee.

...

Sam told Dan, "These guys are out to get us. They’ll garrotte us whatever we do. They don’t give a shit. This is crazy.” Sam had always been a little neurotic; he would probably agree with former Intel CEO Andy Grove’s famous motto, "Only the paranoid survive.” Worry was an essential part of his personality; it helped him to get things done, allowed him to drive the various divisions within the company forward to complete deadlines. But when the FTC hauled nine Rockstar employees down to Washington, D.C., for their investigation, it changed Sam forever.

...

Back in New York City, his doctor said the Hot Coffee incident had left Sam badly injured, like a victim in an emotional car crash. In the end, it was the making of GTA IV that fueled Sam’s recovery. Rockstar would come back because they had a point to make. They would pull no punches with GTA IV, which would be hailed as the most grittily brave game they had ever created. It would sell 3.6 million copies on its first day and earn $500 million in its first week.

You can read more at Wired here and buy the actual book from Random House here. It seems like quite the story!
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