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Supreme Court invalidates law banning sale of violent video games to minors
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Editor
June 27, 2011, 19:41:57
 
In a case decided today, the Supreme Court invalidated a California statute banning the sale of violent video games to minors. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority in a 7-2 decision and held that video games are protected speech under the First Amendment. Due to this constitutional protection, the law faced a heightened "strict scrutiny" standard, under which the state needs to show that a law is justified by a compelling government interest and that it is narrowly drawn to serve that interest. Since the state was unable to show the existence of a direct link between violent video games and violent actions by minors, and since the law did not seek to restrict access to other violent media, the law did not reach the necessary standard. The Court rejected the argument that the interactive nature of video games distinguishes it from other forms of violent media.

Source: 2011 WL 2518809 United States Supreme Court

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Posted: 06/27/11, 19:41:57  - Edited by 
 on: 06/27/11, 19:48:08    
 
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For those inclined to read the full text, it's here. Clicking the link will bring you to a .pdf.


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 21:22:43
Somewhere Jack Thompson is getting ready to kill someone's fax machine.


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 21:23:36
@Deerock69
Not sure it matters, considering that conservative and liberal judges voted together on both sides of this issue.


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 22:01:27
There were a few issues with the California law in conjunction with the ERSB. The most important was that California's standards didn't track 1 to 1 with the ERSB. For example, what is considered a T-rated game by the ERSB may not have been considered an acceptable game to sell to minors in California. So the California law essentially set up a completely new rating system, one in which the retailer was not able to rely on previous industry standards in order to determine whether or not they were able to sell games to minors.

The California law also had no prior review of games. The retailers and game makers had no way of knowing prior to selling the game whether it was acceptable under the California law. Further, there seemed to be no mechanism in place to enforce consistency in rulings on acceptability.

I haven't read the SC's decision yet, but the Appellate Court's decision to overturn the statute was based in large part on the uncertainty created by the law and the necessary "chilling effect" it would have on game manufacturers' content.

Personally I am strongly against government control of media content. I say this as a father of a 4 year old and 8 year old who strictly controls what movies and video games my children are exposed to.

I personally like the ERSB (which is entirely industry driven and not part of the government) because it gives me a heads up about content. Frankly, for me, the ERSB has probably caused me to buy some games that I wouldn't have because I would have otherwise simply assumed that the content wasn't kid-friendly.


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 22:33:56
@kriswright

Also, in the U.S. over the last few decades, "liberals" have been just as - and often much more - ready to censor and control media content as "conservatives" have. Heck, before he became Mr. Green, liberal icon Al Gore was the poster-boy for music censorship in this country.


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 22:37:09
Shouldn't conservatives actually be more in favor of small government? Or am I thinking of Republicans? I'm so confused.


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 22:51:39  - Edited by 
 on: 06/27/11, 22:51:53
Anand said:
I can't really think of a better solution, offhand, though. (To a 'problem' that honestly has nothing to do with me.)
Let Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft do it themselves. Then there's the whole PC and Mac problem though...


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 22:53:40
I don't understand.

How is banning M-rated sales to minors any different than banning R-rated sales to minors? I don't see how this is a big problem--in both cases, parents can let get their kids the game/movie, but the kids can't get it themselves. Can someone extrapolate on what the issue is here?


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 22:57:14
The application of penalties, I think.

@ludist210
Anything goes on the PC! But the ESRB is already a voluntary group funded by the gaming industry, right?


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 23:01:34
TriforceBun said:
I don't understand.

How is banning M-rated sales to minors any different than banning R-rated sales to minors? I don't see how this is a big problem--in both cases, parents can let get their kids the game/movie, but the kids can't get it themselves. Can someone extrapolate on what the issue is here?

The government doesn't ban kids from going to R-rated movies. Movie theaters voluntarily refuse to sell tickets to those under 17. Just as retailers voluntarily refuse to sell M-rated games to those under 17. The issue in California is the California government imposing its own criteria on games (which, as I stated in my previous post, isn't the same as the ERSB's ratings criteria) and then fining retailers who sell offending games to minors.


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 23:10:13
anon_mastermind said:
but the 13-and younger crowd shouldn't be exposed to that (IMO), and in the end the decision should fall on the parent's shoulders.

Which is why my mom didn't let us have TVs in our rooms growing up, we had one TV in the family room and anything we played on it, she KNEW. Handhelds are probably a bit sketchier, but then, we didn't have locks on our doors either and she often busted in unannounced.

Once I got a bit older my older brother threw a TV up in his room anyway, but she could have told him to get it out. At that point I was probably 13 or 14ish?

We really shouldn't be pushing parenting to the lawmakers.

@Anand They should be, in theory, and often are (though not as much nowadays in the US.) Um... but when it comes to certain "moral" issues they can get all legislative on us. Albeit, completely an observation and maybe a bit off, but most of the vocal anti-gaming politicians I have seen have been Democrats.


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 23:12:47  - Edited by 
 on: 06/27/11, 23:15:20
Well thats surprising. I always agreed with the R-rated stuff and M-rated games. Where does it end though? Just how young can you be (or how will can we go)?

So, I remember some ESRB PSAs we had informing parents (mostly mothers) what every game means. Now those are in place so the mom can say "no, Charlie, you can't have that," but now he can sneak to the store with his friends and buy it himself? That seems backwards.

Am I misunderstanding something?


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 23:16:47
@Zero

Ideally that would work but I don't know. There are a LOT of shitty parents out there.


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 23:18:10
Anand said:
Shouldn't conservatives actually be more in favor of small government? Or am I thinking of Republicans? I'm so confused.
Conservatives are in favor of small gov't. Republicans are supposed to be conservatives but aren't so much anymore. Now you have Libertarians taking up the conservative cause more and more.

Being a Libertarian/Independent myself, I'm very happy about this ruling. America!


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 23:19:23
@stephen08 True. But there are also a lot of shitty politicians. I'm more scared of major things happening at a legislative level than bad parents.


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 23:26:04
Quite frankly, it still scares me that there are even two Justices who would so blatantly rule against the first amendment.


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 23:37:01
I don't understand what this means. So, the ESRB ratings mean nothing now?


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 23:51:21
@-JKR-
No no no. This was about laws in the State of California, not the ESRB.


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 23:52:52
Basically, nothing changes.

The industry continues to regulate itself as it should and our government doesn't nanny its people like Australia.


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 23:56:06
@chrisguy
Was that it? I remember reading something about Leland Yee's (?) proposed, vaguely-defined rating system. How could those guys even think they could win with that case?


Posted by 
 on: 06/27/11, 23:58:39
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