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In the year since Hot Coffee was discovered, the industry, so seems, has seen it all. There’s been a slew of legislation, threatened, promised and delivered. Age verification and ratings compliance have been stepped up at the retail level and the venerable ESRB has fundamentally changed its rating policies.
But has it changed the way we mod and play games? It depends on who you ask.
For the hacker at the center of the controversy, little has changed. “The hot coffee controversy hasn't affected how I play or buy games,” says Patrick Wildenborg, the modder known to many simply as PatrickW. For Patrick, the worst part of the controversy was weathering the media storm that forced him to disconnect his phone for several days just to get some peace.
He acknowledges that it has had an effect on the GTA mod community, however. The second version of San Andreas was made “much more mod-resistant” according to Patrick, and among members of the community, there is doubt that future versions will be moddable at all. “This has already made good people leave the scene,” Patrick adds. Among those that remain, there exists a certain amount of caution. “Some innocent modding stuff isn't getting released,” says Patrick, “because modders are afraid it might cause another controversy.”
When Patrick first released the Hot Coffee mod to GTAGarage.com on June 9, 2005, neither he nor any member of the community could have imagined the absolute firestorm it would create in the months to come. An active, tight knit and established mod community, members worked on levels, dissected code and exchanged techniques. In a matter of weeks, however, all that would change as they found the fingers of the game industry, politicians and citizens groups pointed squarely at them.