If you haven’t been keeping up, video-games have constantly been under a lot of heat and for the past six years Californian law makers have been lobbying to have the sale of mature title video-games deemed a criminal act with a 1,000 dollar fine tacked on. At first this seems alright, but it would be the only medium to do so. There is no criminalization for sales of mature books, movies, or music to minors, so why are video games being picked on?
Another example would be that it is not illegal for a movie theater to sell a 14-year-old a ticket to see Kill Bill, but it is simply against their policy to do so. Comparitively, it isn’t illegal for a store to sell a mature title to a youngster, it is simply against their policy.
These cases have consistently been deemed as a violation of free speech and it finally made its way to the supreme court, where it was voted seven to two as a violation of free speech. End of argument (for now, I’m sure).
The supreme court stated “Like the protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas—and even social messages—through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot, and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player’s interaction with the virtual world).”
The supreme court went so far as to call out lawmakers for pushing hidden agendas by saying, “Psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively. Any demonstrated effects are both small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media. Since California has declined to restrict those other media, e.g., Saturday morning cartoons, its video-game regulation is wildly underinclusive, raising serious doubts about whether the State is pursuing the interest it invokes or is instead disfavoring a particular speaker or viewpoint.”
Even a strange comparison between Mortal Kombat and The Divine Comedy was brought into play, “Reading Dante is unquestionably more cultured and intellectually edifying than playing Mortal Kombat. But these cultural and intellectual differences are not constitutional ones. Crudely violent video games, tawdry TV shows, and cheap novels and magazines are no less forms of speech than The Divine Comedy … Even if we can see in them “nothing of any possible value to society … they are as much entitled to the protection of free speech as the best of literature.”
This is a landmark victory for gamers everywhere, and although common sense said that we were going to win this case, you never know.