Tomorrow, the U.S. Supreme Court will take on the sale of violent video games to minors, says the Wall Street Journal. The case revolves around a 2005 California law that banned the sale of violent games to anyone under the age of 18. The law never took effect because courts found it violated free-expression rights. For the last five years, it has been appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.
In 2009, a federal appeals court in San Francisco found that the state didn’t have any credible research that indicated playing violent video games is harmful to minors. Video game publishers like EA, Disney, Microsoft, and Sony claim that the law violates the First Amendment, and that video games are protected under free speech. The game industry says that its current rating system does enough to keep games away from children. A 2009 FTC report found that video games are regulated better than the movie or music industry. Game makers fear that if California’s law is upheld, cities and states across the country would adopt similar laws and major retailers might stop selling Mature rated games, much like how most movie theaters do not carry X-rated movies.
“Suddenly games would become a regulated commodity, like alcohol and cigarettes,” says Ted Price, president of Insomniac Games Inc., maker of M-rated games like “Resistance: Fall of Man. There will be a real chilling effect. We will be more conservative in the ideas that we discuss, we will self-restrict for fear of our games falling under the language in this law .”
The government does not regulate movies or music. If upheld, video games could be seen as more affecting than other entertainment mediums and face further regulation.