A 2005 California law that bans the sale or rental of violent video games will soon be heard by the Supreme Court, according to an AP report. The law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from purchasing games that are deemed to be violent. Retailers found in violation would face up to a $1,000 fine per incident. The law was overturned in the California appeals courts, but fierce debate and irreconcilable view points have continued to further the debate all the way to Washington.
Opponents of the law that include video game publishers and developers EA, Disney, Microsoft and Sony, are claiming that the law is a violation of the first amendment, and that video games are protected under free speech, and since the law was signed in 2005, it has never taken effect due to legal challenges. Supporters of the law have cited several studies that claim a connection between violent video games and anti-social and aggressive behavior in children. The studies have since been dismissed by federal judges.
“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. Callahan also stated that there are less restrictive ways to protect children from “unquestionably violent” video games.
California is not the first state to attempt to regulate the sale and rental of video games. All such laws have found themselves in court, but this is the first case that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear.
Supporters of the law are citing existing laws against minors being allowed to purchase or view pornography as precedence. The video game industry is countering that allowing states to impose bans and censor other materials that it deems as unacceptable, under the auspices of protecting minors.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case- Schwarzenegger v. Video Software Dealers Association- during its upcoming term that begins in October.