Ignorant accusations

On April 21, the MyFox Chicago network aired a segment about a recent string of Grand Theft Auto IV advertisements throughout Chicago Transit Authority. The segment was not about the immense popularity of the Grand Theft Auto series; rather, it followed suit with just about every other video game story they have aired in recent months. The network criticized the ads, claiming the recent spike in Chicago crime can only be attributed to the GTA IV ads.

Can they really be serious about this? Even the most talented marketers could not muster up enough subliminal messaging in a simple advertisement to entice somebody to kill another person. You may have seen these ads, since they have been popping up on MTA buses around New York. If not, the artwork consists of pictures of GTA IV characters, along with the name of the game and its release date. Still, they are calling for these ads to be taken down, and it looks like they will be.

I have seen these ads numerous times and the thought to immediately run out and kill another human never crossed my mind. Neither has the rest of New York City, as it seems. Months ago, large-scale GTA IV ads were placed around downtown Manhattan. Was the news media quick to jump on GTA’s back? No.

The Chicago mayor, Richard Daley, had valid points when showed in the segment. The network showed him ranting in 2004 about GTA: San Andreas and how the marketing was geared toward children. Video game marketing will always be around children; that is something that is unavoidable. But advertisements for these types of Mature-rated games are not put in children’s magazines or television. The public relations backlash would be too much for any video game company.

It is not right for the network to solely attack the GTA ads, and I am not saying that with bias toward the video game industry. I gladly attack the industry when it deserves it. But to smear a marketing campaign because of an unproven correlation? That is down-right absurd.

These basic ads come nowhere near some of the more provocative ones for movies (horrible ones, no less). Movie posters tend to be much more blatantly sex and violence-filled than these GTA ads, which display (at most) a woman with a lollipop or a man with a gun. Does that really compare to, say, a Saw IV poster, showing a man’s head in a scale? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Maybe the media should be blaming recently-released films like Street Kings because it glorifies the use of guns. But I would not be surprised if Fox News in general starts beefing up its unofficial anti-video game campaign next week when the game releases. The real concern over this game should be about all those gamers who will just so happen to be “sick” on April 29.

Editor’s Note: Alex’s blog, “Quality Control,” will be appearing weekly online. Keep checking Torch Online for updates!