For those who have been following the California law that proposes a ban on video game sales to minors, this news will either make you cheer with optimism or scream with rage, depending on which side you are on.
Gamesutra is reporting that the attorney generals of eleven states have issued an amicus brief – a brief filed by a party claiming to be an expert on the matter but not directly involved in the case – in support of the California law, as it heads to the Supreme Court.
The law, originally proposed in 2005, sought to ban all sales of games that were deemed “violent” to anyone under the age of 18. Retailers caught breaking the law would face fines of up to $1,000 per incident. The law faced immediate legal opposition from video game publishers and developers including EA, Disney, Microsoft and Sony.
Supporters of the law are citing existing precedence with pornography cases that involve minors, while opponents are claiming that the case is a clear violation of the First Amendment, and that video games should be protected under free speech. Supporters counter that several studies have claimed a connection between violent video games and aggressive behavior in children, but the studies have been contentious, and have since been dismissed by the courts. Other states have attempted similar laws, and all have been defeated in court, but this is the first that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear.
“None of the research establishes or suggests a causal link between minors playing violent video games and actual psychological or neurological harm, and inferences to that effect would not be reasonable,” Judge Consuelo Callahan said in the 9th Circuit ruling that found in favor of the video game industry. Callahan also stated that there are less restrictive ways to protect children from “unquestionably violent” video games.
Now as the case of Schwarzenegger v. Video Software Dealers Association moves to the Supreme Court, eleven states have come out in support of the law, including: Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia.
“Protecting children from digital danger requires proactive parents — but they need and deserve help,” Connecticut Attorney General, Democrat Richard Blumenthal said in a press conference explaining his support. “The video game industry should act responsibly — play nice, not nasty — and agree to sensible self-imposed restrictions that block children from buying the most violent games. I am calling on the video game industry to follow the leadership of the motion picture industry, which sensibly stops unattended children from viewing violent or graphic movies.”
According to the FTC, the “video game industry outpaces the movie and music industries” in terms of “restricting target-marketing of mature-rated products to children, clearly and prominently disclosing rating information, and restricting children’s access to mature-rated products at retail.”
The case goes before the Supreme Court in October.