Nudity, Violence Change Oblivion Rating

A new controversy brewing this morning involves yet another mod to a Take Two Interactive distributed game. As reported by GameSpot, among others, Bethesda Softworks’ hot gaming title The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for the PC and Xbox 360 has had its rating changed by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board from “T” for Teen to “M” for Mature.

The rating change, said the ESRB, is because of “more detailed depictions of blood and gore than were considered in the original rating of the game (the game already carried a Blood and Gore content descriptor), as well as the presence in the PC version of the game of a locked-out art file that, if accessed by using an apparently unauthorized third party tool, allows the user to play the game with topless versions of female characters”. This mod runs in the same controversial vein as the “Hot Coffee” mod which caused so much trouble for the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas last year.

In a carefully worded response to the ESRB’s ratings change Bethesda Softworks, the developers of Oblivion, stated that they will comply with the board’s change of rating. In their defense, they state in response to the “more detailed depictions of blood and gore” charge that they “advised the ESRB during the ratings process that violence and blood effects were “frequent” in the game – checking the box on the form that is the maximum warning. We further advised that the game contained occasional torture, vulgar acts, and gore. We gave accurate answers and descriptions about the type and frequency of violence that appears in the game. We submitted a 60-page document listing the explicit language, acts, and scenes in the game. Oblivion packaging already contains warnings for “Violence” and “Blood and Gore.”

In response to the mod, which can be downloaded for the PC version, Bethesda stated there is no nudity built into the game and that “some modders have used a third party tool to hack into and modify an art archive file to make it possible to create a mesh for a partially nude (topless) female that they add into the game. Bethesda didn’t create a game with nudity and does not intend that nudity appear in Oblivion. There is no nude female character in a section of the game that can be “unlocked.” Bethesda can not control tampering with Oblivion by third parties.”

Bethesda added they plan to release a patch for the PC version of the game which will disable the nudity mod shortly on the game’s Web site.

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