Surprise! Denver Transit Authority Votes to Allow M-rated Game Ads

GTA ads can remain on buses and trains in the Denver area.

As reported by the Rocky Mountain News, directors of the Regional Transportation District (RTD) rejected a campaign led by the Parents Television Council and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood to ban ads for games rated M and above.

Similar bans are already in place in Boston and Portland, Oregon. As in Boston, it was a series of ads for GTA: Vice City Stories which prompted the call for future restrictions. Currently the RTD only excludes advertising for tobacco products.

According to the Rocky Mountain News, the Operations, Customer Service and Marketing Committee of the RRD recommended the ban. But the board, after meeting with an attorney in private, voted 12-3 to allow the game ads. Said board member John Tayer:

It was a tough decision because I think our hearts as a board were with trying to limit exposure to advertisements that promote violence. But the overwhelming weight of the legal advice was that if we pursued this, we would face an uphill battle in court.

ESA representative Peggi O’Keefe spoke to the RTD board, calling the ban:

…both unnecessary and unconstitutional. This proposal . . . would restrict fully protected expression on the basis of content,” she said. “Such restrictions are constitutionally impermissible.

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  1. 0
    Grow Box Hydroponics Guru says:

    Good morning! I was surfing the internet Tuesday afternoon during my break, and found your blog by searching MSN for marijuana games. This is a topic I have great interest in, and follow it closely. I liked your insight on Surprise! Denver Transit Authority Votes to Allow M-rated Game Ads, and it made for good reading. Keep up the good work…

  2. 0
    MaskedPixelante ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    But, as we’ve seen, these bans aren’t always consistent and fair. I’ll use one of Dennis’ old examples. These bans would put a ban on ads for the Sopranos video game, but not ads for the Sopranos show on HBO, and neither would a potential book, soundtrack album, or movie ads, just video games.

  3. 0
    squigs says:

    I agree this is a good decision, but I’m surprised about the reasoning.

    Surely they’re allowed to have policies on what is and isn’t permitted as long as they’re consitent and fair.

  4. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    At the end of the day, the game may be violent, but the advert is not. They are employed as watchdog for the quality of the ads on their system, not to act as unofficial judges of society who not only judge the content of the adverts, but also the product itself.

    It’s like saying ban all adverts for cars because they might be dangerous in the wrong hands (a lot more dangerous than a computer game in fact).

    So, yes, this is a good decision.

  5. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It wasn’t the government. It was a public transportation organization. I am glad to see them continue advertising. They realized after talking to an inteligent lawer, that if they went through with the ban, protecting that decision would take up time and money that could be spent on more important matters.

    Now if we could get the governments to do the same.

  6. 0
    Robb ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’m a little angry that they didn’t explain in their statement that the ads we put on our mass transit will be E for Everyone. The ban, if enacted, would not be unconstitutional, because refusing an ad is not censorship as we use the word. They currently pick-and-chose ads on a case-by-case basis.

    It’s obvious the real reason here is money. They don’t want to restrict ads for the best-selling games. Successful games mean continued ad revenue. M-games are the best selling, for the most part, and something the PTC doesn’t realize is that it indicates that general consensus is PRO-Mature-rated games. God of War II would be terrible if they made the content fit “T” for example.

    So in summary, read beyond the public statements as they boil down to:
    1) Game ads are a major source of ad dollars
    2) Our riders are mostly adults
    3) The ads themselves are not M-rated (see the cover of Vice City Stories, it has NO violent or overtly sexual content)
    4) The PTC does not represent our best interests.

    The PTC drives me bonkers. It goes like this: if you agree with the PTC as an individual, use their advice. If you don’t agree, ignore them. Recognize the PTC is a very small percentage of a minority of Americans (which can be proven statistically).

  7. 0
    Conejo says:


    yes, but they weren’t being consistant nor fair about it.
    an M-rated game is equivalent to an R rated movie.

    or to put it better: why can’t you advertise a Sopranos game, but you can advertise the Sopranos TV show? that’s inconsistant.

  8. 0
    ChrowX ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “It was a tough decision because I think our hearts as a board were with trying to limit exposure to advertisements that promote violence.”

    Someone explain that one to me. I’d expect an advertisement that promotes violence to some something like, “Go out and shoot someone today! Buy a gun!” not an ad that shows a few illustrations and some text. Because, if I’m not mistaken, box art does not promote violence.

    I think this entire situation would’ve never happened if the transit authorities didn’t believe the hype that videogames cause violence (even though teen crime rates and violence in general is incredibly low compared to years passed).

    At least they made the smart choice here for a couple of the right reasons, but honestly, they shouldn’t even nbe considering violent content. It’s not something you can debate and yet several other states have already cut themselves off from a major source of revenue because they can’t take the 2 seconds to rationalize the choices.

  9. 0
    Ace of Sevens ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It’s a goverment organization. THey can’t restrict things by content. If they have to let the Nazis use the park Pavilliosn and the KKK adopt a section of highway, surely they have to take ad revenue for relatively tame ads.

  10. 0
    Valthun ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    My opinion on this is that if you ban M rated games from being displayed on buses, then you have to ban R rated movies as well. But no one wants to ban R rated movies from being advertised on buses and subways.

  11. 0
    MasterAssassin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’m very pleased to see them stand up and put their foot down on the PTC and their ilk. They are a disgusting group of out of touch lazy parents who want to force thier moral beliefs on the rest of us. Hopefully more will follow this great example.

  12. 0
    Gatz says:

    dude Denver is the shit first they legalize marijuana now they are saying yes to M-Rated games. Now all they need is a law that says “who so ever bitches about the last two things listed in this comment shall be flogged” and then I’d move there.

  13. 0
    Brer says:


    Don’t get your hopes up. The Denver DA has said that he still intends to prosecute any and all possession of marijuana under the State statute, which still stands as of the last election.

    As for the article itself: “Similar bans are already in place in Boston and Portland, Oregon”…Ahhh, Portland. You can burn US soldiers in effigy, defecate in public…but you better not display ads for mature video games on public transit…Portland, one of the few cities able to make Boulder, CO look boringly normal.

  14. 0
    Siftr says:

    This is a victory, against those who would care about the children.

    Wait, Correction: victory against those who would look like they care about the children.

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