Each week Dennis McCauley contributes The Political Game, a column on the collision of politics and video games:
M-rated games can't ride the bus anymore in Boston or Portland, Oregon. Can't ride the train, either. The respective transit authorities in those towns have banned all future ads encompassing M-rated games.
Of course, the game they were really gunning for -- but missed -- was a Grand Theft Auto title, Vice City Stories. Transit ads promoting GTA:VCS which ran last November set the Boston censor-crats off. But by censoring GTA, critics like the Parents Television Council and the Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood have closed the door to advertising for every other M-rated game as well. Victims of the ban will include some very artistic titles like Jade Empire 2 and God of War 2 as well as games like Halo 3 that, while violent, don't include hot button content such as shooting cops or robbing hookers.
Why then are games singled out? Why is it okay for HBO to place a huge advertisement for the final episodes of The Sopranos on buses in Boston and Portland while the M-rated video game based on the hit show would be banned from such advertising?