Ban On Mature Game Advertisements Lifted In Chicago

Games Such As GTA IV Were Banned, Blamed For Violence By Some

January 8, 2010 Today, the United States District Court in Chicago issued an injunction against the Chicago Transit Authority’s ban of mature game advertisements.

In April of 2008 Chicago saw its bloodiest weekend in a long time, with a total of 37 shootings, two stabbings, and seven murders, all in the space of just a few days. What made it more shocking was that almost half of the victims were Chicago school students. Shortly after the weekend, FOX News Chicago ran a story implying that advertisements for Grand Theft Auto IV, which had recently been put up around the city, were in large part responsible for the large number of crimes that had occurred. Following FOX’s report the Chicago Transit Authority imposed a ban on all mature game advertisements. The following was added to the authority’s regulation on advertisements. “Advertisements marketing or identifying a video or computer game with an ESRB rating of “Mature (M)” or “Adults Only (AO)” are prohbited.”

In July of 2009 the Entertainment Software Association filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Transit Authority in order to lift the advertising ban, stating that the ban was “a violation of the guarantees of free speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.” Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, of the District Court for Northern Illinois, agrees, and has recently been instrumental in granting the ESA a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit before the case was brought to court.

Michael Gallagher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, released a statement saying “This ruling is a win for Chicago’s citizens, the video game industry, and, above all, the First Amendment. It is our hope that the Chicago Transit Authority sees the futility of pursuing this case further. To do so will waste tax payer money and government resources. Chicago deserves better and we look forward to bringing this matter to an end.”

A preliminary injunction is often granted when the judge overseeing a case agrees with one side before the case is settled in court, making it virtually impossible for the other side to come out on top. The whole controversy, which almost dealt a serious blow to the video game industry, spawned from the sub-par reporting skills of a news agency desperate for a story, and it truly is a victory for the industry as a whole, as it is ridiculous for anybody to claim that advertisement posters are responsible for the actions of any person or group of people.

Sources: Kotaku and CBS

The GTA IV Ad Which Sparked the Controversy