California rejects video game law



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28 June 2011 | 0

Gamers and the games industry at large have won a significant victory today as the US Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the video game industry and retailers.

The Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) (formerly known as Schwarzenegger v. EMA) was struck down today on the grounds that “the act forbidding sale or rental of violent games to minors does not comport with the First Amendment [the right to freedom of speach].”

The vote was 7-2 in favour of rejecting the law, which has had a permanent injunction placed on it based on the ruling that it is unconstitutional due to the fact that it violates rights protected by the First Amendment.

“As a means of assisting concerned parents, it (the law) is seriously overinclusive because it abridges the First Amendment rights of young people whose parents (and aunts and uncles) who think that violent video games are a harmless pastime,” wrote Justice Antonin Scalia for the supporting majority in favor of the games industry.




“Video games qualify for First Amendment protection,” continued Scalia. “Like protected books, plays and movies, they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium. Reading Dante is unquestionably more cultured and intellectually edifying than playing Mortal Kombat. But these cultural and intellectual differences are not constitutional ones.”

Justic Stephen Breyer, representing the other side of the debate, noted that “the First Amendment does not disable government from helping parents make such a choice here – a choice not to have their children buy extremely violent, interactive games.”

Justices Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts suggested that members of the government and the courts “should make every effort to understand the new technology presented in these sophisticated video games.”

California State Senator Leland Yee, who originally proposed the law back in 2005, said on KGO 810 this morning that he would “analyse the decision before determining his next step,” and that he believed that the court had sided with corporate interests of companies such as Wal-Mart.

IDG News Service

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