Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chicago Transit Authority bans mature video game ads; industry strikes back

Video games rated Mature or Adults Only for violent or sexual content are a favorite target of politicians, public servants and special interest groups.
These groups frequently try to put special restrictions on the sale or marketing of such games in the interest of protecting impressionable children. These actions usually crop up during election season or whenever Take-Two Interactive Software releases a new edition of its “Grand Theft Auto” franchise.
The only thing these actions end up doing is waste taxpayer money. That’s because they never stand up under judicial review. Video games are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Video games can’t be treated differently than other expressions of free speech, including movies, books and newspapers.
Earlier this year, the Chicago Transit Authority banned advertisements for video games rated M or AO on its trains, buses and stations. The Entertainment Software Association today filed suit against the CTA, challenging the CTA’s prohibition on certain computer and video game advertisements as a violation of the guarantees of free speech under the First Amendment.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, charges the CTA with unfairly targeting the computer and video game industry by enacting an ordinance that selectively bans advertisements of computer and video games rated "Mature 17+" (M) or "Adults Only 18+" (AO).
The cash-strapped CTA should drop its ban on such video game advertisements now. Going to court will be a waste of taxpayer dollars. You don’t have to be a legal expert to know the ultimate outcome here.
For more information, see the Video Game Voters Network.

Photo: Artwork from Take-Two Interactive Software’s “Grand Theft Auto IV”

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