Chicago may be the nanny-government capitol of the nation. Its mayor, Richard M. Daley, has pledged to have high-tech surveillance cameras on every corner in the city within the next eight years. Its 50-member city council passed legislation forbidding restaurants to sell foie gras because a majority of its aldermen doesn’t like the way ducks are force-fed to fatten up their livers.
The latest nanny-notion the Windy City has acted on is gaming. I’m not referring to the gaming Republican spin-meister Frank Luntz came up with when he pimped the word to change the image of Las Vegas gambling. No, I’m talking about computer and Internet gaming.
As it turns out, the Chicago Transit Authority recently removed a series of Grand Theft Auto IV ads from the city’s bus shelters. The city didn’t want to be promoting a game that features simulated sex, car theft and drive-by shootings—especially after a news report by the local Fox station speculated that an ugly rash of violence in Chicago maybe somehow related to the game’s release—or not.
" ...the CTA can do what they want, the game has enough publicity without the CTA ads. I've seen real violence, sexuality and drug use while riding the CTA. Maybe they shouldn't worry about protecting their riders from virtual violence and worry more about reality.”
Grand Theft Auto IV may be good, but I can’t imagine it’s that good. I just can’t imagine a video game being so compelling that it would drive hordes of young people away from their computers and out on the streets to car jack and shoot up the toddling town.
But first, a disclaimer: I’ve never played the game. In fact, I don’t play computer games at all because I’m fearful that I’ll become addicted to them and waste all my time with the Sims instead of investing it in real life. So who am I to say what evil lurks in computer games.
Fortunately for me, I have an expert in the family. My 24-year-old son, Scott Anderson, is a game developer. Before he moved to Arizona last year to work on “Stargate Worlds,” an upcoming massively multiplayer online role playing game, he was a devoted and regular CTA customer. And, if memory serves me right, the Grand Theft Auto series is one of his favs.
Who better to call on than someone who is well acquainted with both the CTA and the GTA? I emailed doubly knowledgeable son to ask what he thought.
Scott, who is working overtime to help Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment finish the game by its year’s-end deadline, didn’t waste a lot of words sharing his opinion on the wisdom of the CTA offing the GTA IV ads from its bus shelters.
“It's an odd choice, but the CTA can do what they want, the game has enough publicity without the CTA ads. I've seen real violence, sexuality and drug use while riding the CTA,” Scott wrote back about the game which made $310 million in its first week of release. “Maybe they shouldn't worry about protecting their riders from virtual violence and worry more about reality.”
In the meantime, Take-Two Interactive, the creators of GTA 4, is suing the Chicago Transit Authority for violating a $300,000 deal they’d struck with the city.
The Chicago mob is alive and well and living in the suburbs. Maybe, instead of spending a lot time in the court, Take-Two Interactive ought to have their people have a sit-down with a couple of real-life hit men.
After kneecapping a Chicago pol or two, they might be able to get the city leaders to understand the difference between what’s pretend and what’s the real deal.