What the CTA Ad Ban Has to Say About Violent Video Games

As GamePolitics and other news outlets have reported, the ESA is suing the Chicago Transit Authority over the agency’s ban on M and AO-rated video ads.

Here are excerpts from the justification section of CTA Ordinace 008-147, the document at the heart of the ESA lawsuit:

WHEREAS… the Chicago Transit Board established advertising guidelines permitting certain advertising in or upon Chicago Transit Authority vehicles and facilities; and


WHEREAS, According to an August 2008 Chicago Sun Times article at least 36 Chicago public school students have been killed since September 2007; and


WHEREAS, There is a demonstrable correlation between intensely violent video or computer games and violent or aggressive behavior (see "Video Game Violence and Public Policy" by David Walsh, Ph.D. and "The Effects of Violent Video Game Habits on Adolescent Hostility, Aggressive Behaviors, and School Performance" by Gentile, Lynch, Linder and Walsh; and


WHEREAS, There is evidence that many of these violent video or computer games are marketed toward children under 17 years of age (see Federal Trade Commission study, September, 2000)…

The 2000 FTC report is, indeed, an indictment of video game industry marketing practices. On the other hand, the industry has made remarkable strides since then in restricting the access of minors to violent games.

In its May, 2008 report, the FTC found an 80% overall compliance rate in retail ratings enforcement, with top performer GameStop achieving a 94% compliance rate. Given that the CTA ordinance was passed in November, 2008, it’s unclear why the 2000 data was used.

The full CTA ordinance may be found as "Exhibit 2" in the ESA’s lawsuit. Click here for a copy of the 70-page PDF.

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  1. TBoneTony says:

    Back in the 80’s, Nintendo counter sued Universal Studios for trying to steal their IP when Universal claimed that Nintendo used the King Kong label without their permission.

    Nintendo won because they proved in court that Universal Studios got the King Kong label because of the 50 year old movie lisence was already public domain and Universal never really owned King Kong at all.


    And now this, if ESA wins, this will send a strong message to anyone trying to take on the Videogame Industry of any business is that there are some people in Videogames who really know their stuff.

    And that the Videogame industry is not always fun and games.


    Trying to take on Videogames because they look like an easy target will get you burned if you don’t know who you are playing against.


  2. TBoneTony says:

    From my view, the advertising that was used contained no nudity, no violence.

    Only just a few characters from the game GTA IV and seeing how the CTA has used old Data that has been proven in court (at least in Caliafornia) to be totally bogus and no logic to it, then it will not be surprising that the Chicargo Transit Authority will now be another community organisation that now owes (another videogame Industry type of business) a few million dollars.

    From this point, I don’t think that anybody would want to advertise videogames unless if it was for the Wii and rated E.


    Lets face it, if businesses want to treat Videogames as Child Porn then let those businesses lose thousands of dollars in revenue all because of their sheer ignorance and in-ability to tell the difference between fantasy (Violent Videogames kill people because of the violent interactive nature that lasts for 800 hours in a game) and reality (people kill people because there is allot of anger and hate within them).


    People who make Videogames and publishers who want to promote them the best way they can have got no need to kiss the asses of other people who can’t really see the reality that Videogames are just as violent as TV, Movies, Music, Books and other entertainment mediums.





  3. MasterAssassin says:

    This whole ordinance is based on purely emotion and no logic. And wow they are using the FTC studay from 2000? You mean back when the PS2 came out? And why are they putting in that 36 public school kids were killed? WTF does that have to do with anything? Are they really suggesting that video games had to do with those shootings and not the problems with gangs and poverty? I doubt most people in those neighborhoods could even afford any of the current gen consoles.The ESA is gonna rip them a new one in Court.

  4. Father Time says:

    Whereas the evidence that video games cause violence has been consistently rejected

    Whereas it’s legal to sell games to children thus the ads don’t encourage illegal activities by nature

    Whereas newer data contradicts your claims

    You really should never had made such a rule.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  5. JustChris says:

    Its politics really are corrupt, but at least most of its people aren’t. I find them to be more well- down to earth than LA or NYC.


  6. sheppy says:

    Well they TRIED handgun bans within city limits.  Not that it had a chance to work anyway but it was quite hilarious to see that female police officer arrested because she used her position as a cop to supply her gang member boyfriend with handguns.

    This is why I really can’t trust anything to come out of Chicago, Obama included.  You live around the area you quickly learn there isn’t a single goddam person in a position of power in Chicago that isn’t corrupt.

    Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

  7. hellfire7885 says:

    Nope, they can’t do that. It makes too much sense and doesn’t get enough votes, so instead, they’re going to keep removing things kids have to do so there is nothing to do but cause trouble.

  8. Austin_Lewis says:

    Oh my goodness.  This is going to be a rape.  And the ESA is going to have the CTA bent over a table, gagged, while they wait for the gimp to show up.

    Oh, by the way.  If you want less kids to shoot each other, how about doing something about the gang problem in your shithole city?

  9. Hevach says:

    Always been a bit of a pet peeve of mine that people overstretch correlation:causation. Simple correlation does not mean causation, but correlation is still a very significant experimental and observational phenomenon, and is the basis of demonstrating causation.

    Doesn’t change the fact that the correlation is weak to start with between video game play and violence and often vanishes entirely when exposure to real violence, especially in the home, is controlled, but correlation is still a very significant fact. For example, it’s been "known" for around 110 years that certain types of bacteria removed nitrogenous waste compounds from soil and water. That knowledge has been applied heavily in agriculture, aquaculture, and sewage processing for decades, but before Tim Hovanec’s work in 1995, the only evidence of that fact was a simple correlation.

  10. JDKJ says:

    Your understanding is wrong. The government is always capable of restricting speech provided it can satisfy the requirements imposed by the First Amendment. For example, if the applicable requirements are (a) a rational basis to restrict the speech and (b) the restrictive means employed is no more expansive than needed to effect the desired restriction (the so-called "rational basis test"), then the goverment need only prove that there is some non-irrational need to restrict the speech (e.g., by proving that violent videogames are harmful to minors, therefore it needs to restrict the advertising of violent videogames in the transit system where such advertising may be viewed by minors) and that the means employed is as narrowly-tailored as possible to acheive the desired outcome (e.g., by proving that there is no less restrictive means of ensuring that minors using the transit system will not be exposed to violent videogame advertising other than to completely ban such advertising from the transit system). If the government can satisty these twin requirements, then they are free to restrict the advertising. And it works like this for all speech. Provided the government can meet the particular burden which the First Amendment requires of them in order to restrict any given form of speech (and this burden varies with the type of speech being restricted, the nature of the restriction, and the reasons for its restriction), then they do get to restrict that speech.

    That the sale of age-restricted videogames to those under the age of restriction is prohibited by law would be helpful to the government in satisfying the rational basis test. But it isn’t essential. As the fact that such sales aren’t prohibited by law isn’t fatal to the government’s ability to satisfy the rational basis test.

    As a perhaps interesting aside, it’s possible that under the rational basis test the government wouldn’t have to conclusively and beyond a shadow of a doubt prove that videogames are harmful to minors. It may well be sufficient that it present enough evidence to withstand the challenge that the claim of harm is completely irrational.

  11. Wormdundee says:

    All very well and good, but this is all moot considering that video games aren’t age restricted. Any video game (that isn’t obscene or otherwise restricted) could be directly advertised to 10-12 year olds perfectly legally from what I understand.

  12. Wormdundee says:

    WHEREAS, There is evidence that many of these violent video or computer games are marketed toward children under 17 years of age (see Federal Trade Commission study, September, 2000)

    Really? They refer to an 8-year old (at the time the ordinance was passed) study to support their views instead of a more recent one that refutes their views? This is horribly surprising.

    Why does this even matter? It is not illegal to market any video game to any age. They are not restricted by law like the CTA would like to think in their silly comparison to alcohol and tobacco.

    WHEREAS, There is a demonstrable correlation…

    Correlation does not imply causation, so that’s straight out.

    WHEREAS, According to an August 2008 Chicago Sun Times article at least 36 Chicago public school students have been killed since September 2007;

    Blatant appeal to emotion to get the public to accept the ordinance. Disgusting.

    And this is only in their first 4 points. I can’t even imagine what a shitstorm the rest of the document is.

  13. hellfire7885 says:

    And a mix of the old "let’s keep removing things these kids have to do so this problem stays and we can pretend ot fix it"

  14. TheSmokey says:

    Wow, I had a really hard time reading that. Where were the veiled threats and the pictures to help me figure out what was being said? Were they cut off?

  15. Neo_DrKefka says:

     Oh great, so when they loose they are going to whine to the state how much more money they need and raise the fares big time

  16. Neeneko says:

    Classic example of ‘instead of solving the real (and difficult) problem, let us scapegoat in such a way that we get reelected!’

  17. magic_taco says:

    "WHEREAS, According to an August 2008 Chicago Sun Times article at least 36 Chicago public school students have been killed since September 2007"


    Ummm…is it because the city is also a cesspool of constant drugs and gang violence?

    And most of the gangs i’ve heard about kill innocent kids (like students) out of jealously,fear,intimidation or……oohhh get this, They even threaten kids or young adults not go to school.


  18. Rocketboy says:

    WHEREAS, the CTA has not banned ads from violent Movies, Books, or any other form of media. 

  19. JDKJ says:

    There’s a subtle but important difference between how an age-restricted product is marketed and how efforts are made to ensure that those below the age-restriction cannot purchase the product. That’s what got Camel cigarettes in trouble: the appearance that it’s cartoon-like Joe Camel advertising campaign was deliberately designed to appeal to and was targeted at minors by means of both the advertising’s substance and the places in which the advertising was placed. No one was accusing Camel of failing to ensure that minors didn’t purchase their products. It was how and where they were marketing the product which was the problem. If I’m not incorrect, the 2000 FTC report speaks to marketing efforts, while the later reports speak to compliance efforts.

  20. sirdarkat says:

     And this is why the ESA will trash them in court.  Rule one if more recent information /judgement has been made then that is the one used (baring on the more recent judgement being made by a lower entity then the one being disputed).  So in this case ESA will present the information they avoided that was newer which since being from the same organization will dispute their claims while also underminding their ability to retort since they willingly used outdated information to make their case in the first place.

  21. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Given that the CTA ordinance was passed in November, 2008, it’s unclear why the 2000 data was used.

    That is an easy answer. Voluntary selective ignorance. The very same thing that Yee, PTC and all those other voluntarily ignorant individuals and groups use.

    They pick and choose data that supports their views while ignoring anything that contradicts their views even if what their using has been superseded by more recent work by the very same organization that produced what they want to use.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

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