Supreme Court Case, Video Games

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments from California’s Attorney General Zackery P. Morazzini, and Paul M. Smith, on behalf of the Entertainment Merchants Association(EMA).  California appealed the circuit courts decision that said it is unconstitutional to ban minors from buying violent video games, based off of the 1st amendment freedom of speech. Justice Scalia, who usually sides with conservative ideals, seems to lean toward the EMA. On the other side of the issue, Chief Justice Roberts seems to agree with California, which wants to ban minors from buying violent video games.

Justice Scalia alluded to children’s literature that can be violent, but is accepted as fiction, “some of the Grimm’s fairy tales are quite grim…are you going to ban them too?” If video games sales are regulated what will be next? Movies, music, books?

Chief Justice Roberts argued in behalf of protecting minors from violent games, which California claims can cause mental harm. Supporters behind the California law say video games are worse than movies and books, because the child is actively participating in violence instead of passively watching or reading.

If the Supreme Court decided to uphold the law then retailers can be fined $1,000  for selling a violent video game to a minor. This can change how games are made. Developers may try to avoid being considered excessively violent, so they won’t have a decrease in sales.

Siding with the EMA, would shut up California and other states that have tried similar laws and video games would officially be protected by the first amendment, on par with movies, music, and books.

A decision in the case isn’t expected for months.



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