Video Game Law Blog

November 24, 2006

A game-related controversy has arisen in Boston this week. The heart of the problem is that the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has allowed ads for Grand Theft Auto Vice City Stories on its subway cars. Various officials and organizations, including the mayor of Boston and the local police union, are calling for the ads to be removed. The MBTA's general manager is not giving into the pressure, although he has stated that the MBTA might review its ad policies with respect to M-rated games (the GTA ad campaign ends November 30).

This controversy obviously raises freedom of speech issues. The Boston Mayor has accused the MBTA of 'hiding"? behind the First Amendment; the MBTA general manager has pointed out that the MBTA does not have the authority to regulate ad content, and that the MBTA in fact spent more than a million dollars some years ago in a failed attempt to prevent ads supporting proposed changes to marijuana laws.

Restricting advertising for controversial video games is a sticky question, especially when objections are based solely on the content of what is being advertised. An obvious question is whether the MBTA has put ads for R-rated movies on its trains without drawing the outcry we are seeing over the GTA ads "? we expect that it has.

There is excellent coverage of this story at .