Boston Transit Chief Bitter, But Says No More M-rated Game Ads on Buses, Trains

November 25, 2006 -
While those controversial ads for GTA Vice City Stories will remain on Boston subway cars through November, it may be the last GTA ad carried on Beantown mass transit - ever.

As reported by GamePolitics, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority boss Daniel Grabauskas has refused to pull the current ads, citing contractual and First Amendment concerns.

But in a November 22nd letter to the Campaign For a Commercial-Free Childhood, Grabauskas wrote that he has begun the process of amending the MBTA's advertising guidelines with an eye toward banning future ads for M- and AO-rated games.

GamePolitics has obtained a copy of the letter (faxed in by Jack Thompson), in which Grabauskas quite acidly addresses the way the situation went down:
If you had a concern... a more open way to accomplish what you sought would have been to... engage in a constructive dialogue... We were given no opportunity to do that... the manner of your request... was cheap.

While violent video games may be a contributing factor, they are certainly not the only factor in the rise of violence among young people... By overplaying the importance of this not-most-important factor... you have not addressed the more important root causes. In fact, you have done a disservice.

Next Grabauskas writes about the GTA ads, which will stay on MBTA trains through the end of November:
The advertisements... will remain... Absent agreement by the advertiser to voluntarily pull the advertisements, we have no choice...

We have begun the process of amending our current guidelines in a manner that would result in the prohibition, in the future, of the advertisement of video games that have received either a rating of "M" ...or "AO"...

The worst of all results... would be to take knee-jerk action in a manner... that would be overturned by any possible legal challenge...

I expect that you will now be about the business of taking on the other challenges causing violence in our City and in our Commonwealth with equal zeal... I urge you not to be too smug with the result. There is no victory where there was never a battle.

Comments

I commend this man, but... I'm disheartened to think of what will happen to his reputation- he's saying the right thing, had the right idea, but zealotous religious groups, misinformed parents, scapegoat-searching cops and pompous politicians who think getting the ACLU pissed off isn't anything are going to peck at this, and he'll STILL be right- they will not have adressed the issue, and it will not have gone away.

I must say, I love living in MA. Well... at least as far as the MBTA goes. I'm glad he didn't cave to political pressure. Grabauskas definitely shows that he knows what's going on, and it's nice to see him stand up to all the BS that is flying around. Yeah, it's unfortunate that we might not get to see any more M rated games on subways (oh noes, what a loss). But it's nice to see that Grabauskas held his ground against the baseless claims from psychotic anti-video game activists.

"I urge you not to be too smug with the result. There is no victory where there was never a battle." Actually, I'd say the Campaign For a Commercial-Free Childhood loses in this case. They didn't get the ad pulled, and there's only a potential that the advertising guidelines will be changed in a manner that they approve of. IMO, score one for the vidiots.

Since when has anyone advertised for an AO-rated game?

"There is no victory where there was never a battle."

I like that line. I'm going to have to steal it sometime.

Dave: Indeed, I liked this one as well.
Though more important, I thought, was this line:
"By overplaying the importance of this not-most-important factor… you have not addressed the more important root causes. In fact, you have done a disservice."
That's what so few people understand - by chasing after things that are not definitely the cause you do harm by squandering resources that could be spent elsewhere, and by letting yourself think the problem is solved when in fact it's as bad as ever.

So no more ads on buses for M and AO games.

That's all fine, but take a look at the actual ad (in the previous news post).

It's Rating Pending.

So would this even have stopped the current ad? Not unless they state they'll only advertise rated games.

Goood for him. As reward for his zeal, I promise to pay the whole $1.50 for the T stop near my house instead of cheaping out with $1.25 (the fee at most other stops).

Since when has anyone advertised for an AO-rated game?

Heck, what WAS the last AO-rated game? The ESRB only lists ~25 on their site from what I heard.

"Granauskas wrote that he has begun the process of amending the MBTA’s advertising guidelines with an eye toward banning future ads for M- and AO-rated games."

But advertisements for R-rated and NC-17-rated movies can stay? Why do these people continue on with such a blatant double standard? And don't bring out that tired old "interactivity" excuse. The ads themselves are no more interactive than those for movies, and from what I've heard, they are no more violent.

While I applaud Grabauskas for standing firm, I'm worried that eventually he'll either be forced to cave in or the politicians will replace him with someone that will. But when (it's obviously not an "if" anymore) they do, he will still be right. Even with all the influential figures shouting against him, he will still be right.

It's just like Harper Lee said: "The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conciensce." Obviously, this man's conciensce told him what we've all been saying for a long time: This GTA-scapegoating is total BS. And I'm proud of him for standing up for what he believes in.

Temminator44

Well, of course. They can't allow a pro-first amendment transit cheif, that would be harmful to society! ONE CENSORCRAT TRANSIT CHEIF, COMING RIGHT UP!!!


Dammit, the rest of the industry should have supported him while they still could.

I think it sucks that the video game industry has to give in to these anti-game jerks all the time. Why do they bow to people like Jack Thompson? Why do they allow people, who use them as scapegoats, to win without a fight? They shouldn't be allowed to win that easily!!!!!!!!!!! The video game industry has to fight back and stop these jerks. Violent video games have every right to advertise anywhere they want to. Whether it's the subway, milk cartons, cereal boxes, billboards, or public parks. They have a right to advertise anywhere they want to!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So what about movies rated for over 17's only will they be banned too?

I really like Grabauskas' responses to this issue. Is there anywhere I can read his letters in full?

“There is no victory where there was never a battle."

Hey, that sounds like a line a hero from a video game would say. Grabauska for the NSA! :)

Yep. This guy deserves a f'ing medal for HONESTY.

He alone has succeeded where so many others cannot.

Only problem here is somebody is bound to complain even on less controversial games. Anybody here remember the story about the woman complaining that her kid was scared by a bus ad for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time?

@On Target:

A bus ad? Hell, when I was a kid it was the bus DRIVER that used to freak me out.

What was scary about the Sands of Time? I'm looking at the cover art on the IMDB right now and it doesn't look remotely scary. Now, when I was a little kid, the MBTA had ads for Child's Play 3.
Evil killer doll Chucky staring at you= scary.
The Prince of Persia climbing a wall = not scary

@On Target:

Yeah, they couldn't even get the friggin' game right. The kid was scared by Hitman, NOT Prince of Persia (which was the one they filed the complaint over).

Of course, what the censors will want next is removal of ads for Bully because that "ought" to have been rated M...

So are they also going to refuse to advertise for R and NC-17 rated movies?

Violent ANYTHING should NOT be able to advertise anywhere it wants, Daniel. Imagine ads for gang violence, or school shootings on milk cartons or cerial boxes. Heck, why not advertise drug smuggling and illegal border crossing on billboards and busses. Shouldn't anyone with a desire to here a hit-man [or is that hit-person?] be able to find a suitable ad while riding the MBTA, perhaps reading Boston Now or the Metro, instead of a copy of Soldier of Fortune folded so as not to reveal the cover to prying eyes poised to say it if the see it? Sure, Daniel, players of violent video games have their rights, as do gansters, mobsters, killers, psychopaths, deviants, perverts and the morally depraved, to do whatever they want in a Democratic society - as long as it does not interfere with the rights of others. And that is the part of Democracy that, sadly, far too may people miss: your rights do not give you the right to step on my rights. So Daniel - the ads have got to go, and not because violent video games are bad, just that promoting them is.

Violent ANYTHING should NOT be able to advertise anywhere it wants, Daniel. Imagine ads for gang violence, or school shootings on milk cartons or cerial boxes. Heck, why not advertise drug smuggling and illegal border crossing on billboards and busses. Shouldn't anyone with a desire to here a hit-man [or is that hit-person?] be able to find a suitable ad while riding the MBTA, perhaps reading Boston Now or the Metro, instead of a copy of Soldier of Fortune folded so as not to reveal the cover to prying eyes poised to say it if the see it? Sure, Daniel, players of violent video games have their rights, as do gansters, mobsters, killers, psychopaths, deviants, perverts and the morally depraved, to do whatever they want in a Democratic society - as long as it does not interfere with the rights of others. And that is the part of Democracy that, sadly, far too may people miss: your rights do not give you the right to step on my rights. So Daniel - the ads have got to go, and not because violent video games are bad, just that promoting them is. Read up - violent games increase the body's fight or flight reaction, a known first-step toward violent behavior. It is not that every violent game fan will engage in the next school massacre, it is the fact that every school massacre was perpetrated by someone into violent fantasy games or other behavior deemed "anti-social."
 
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