A Win For Gaming (Court News)

Ah lawsuits, they are almost always boring and make our readers/audience mad. Yet one came along today that is a very good thing for gamers and the industry. My intention with this post is to explain to you what happened and why it’s a good thing. I hope to do so in a manner that won’t bore you into a coma with legalese. First we need to understand what happened and how it ended I suppose.

Back in 2005 an brain dead senator from my home state of California decided the children where in horrible trouble. This man, Leland Yee was deeply concerned that video games were about to eat an entire generation. So he got a law passed that basically made it illegal to sell mature video games to minors without facing a severe penalty for doing so. Now mind you there is already a several laws that cover this same issue and a national ratings board that rates games in an attempt to educate parents. I am far to lazy to look up the specific language of the now dead law, but what it did in essence is say video games aren’t protected by the first amendment here in the U.S. Like movies, literature, TV and music is. Fast forward to 2011 through lots of court battles and a massive waste of tax payer money and you get to today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Which basically told the state of California that your law is unconstitutional and as such is not legal. We could easily leave it at that and I could go off to watch porn, but there really is much more to this case and why it’s important even to gamers.

You see every entertainment medium has in the past faced this kind of challenge when it becomes to provocative for a portion of societies liking. Literature has dealt with it several times, Television did with Elvis and his swinging hips and music with its evil subliminal messages that weren’t really there. In pretty much every case some court, usually the Supreme Court set in stone a decision that each form of entertainment is protected by the 1st amendment of the U.S. Constitution which deals with free speech. Which in simple terms means the outraged moralists would just have to tolerate the filth even if they didn’t approve of it. In a lot of cases it legitimized and strengthened each segment of the entertainment industry and dramatically lowered the number of stupid lawsuits against them. That is what happened today for the video game industry. They were given the full rights and protection of the first amendment. By setting that precedent in stone it will make it much harder for fools to clog the courts with frivolous lawsuits against the industry. It also shows that the industry is maturing and being seen as more legitimate along side movies, television etc.

What in the end does all this mean for gamers? Well this maybe be difficult to believe but it keeps us from having to deal with even more oppressive laws in the future, at least here in the U.S. If the court had decided in favor of the California law it would of meant games aren’t protected speech, possibly because they are more interactive than other entertainment. Which would of given politicians the freedom to enact even harsher legislation that could very easily affect adult gamers. It also could of given politicians the freedom to do away with the ESRB and put in a much more restrictive ratings board run by the government. While that is all speculation on my part, it all would have been possible had the Supreme Court decision gone the other way. The decision going the other way could of also caused the industry to censor itself out of fear of legislative reprisal. That wouldn’t of been good for anyone. So while it’s difficult to understand why we should care about another court case, trust me this was a huge win for gamers and gaming.

On a personal note I was glad to see Justice Antonin Scalia make some very pointed comments on the subject of psychological studies about video game violence. When you boil down his comments he called them rubbish and said that they have not shown any conclusive evidence linking video game violence to violent behavior in children. We might get lucky and see less of those moronic studies as a by product of this ruling. For gamers outside of the U.S., this ruling might not have much impact on your lives, but I will guarantee it probably would have had the ruling gone the other way. For the reasons I stated above, among others.


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12 Responses to “A Win For Gaming (Court News)”

  1. Glasenator says:

    One of the main things I took away after reading the finial statement besides the judgement, were these two sentences:

    "Psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively. Any demonstrated effects are both small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media."

    This is a MAJOR step forward for video games when the Supreme Court discounts all studies supporting the "exculsive" connection between videogames and violence. And should pretty much be everyone's go to trump card when someone tries to make that connection again.

    Great, great news.

  2. BruceMcGee says:

    That was what I meant with my bit on Justice Scalia and really cracked up when I was reading through the ruling. I also remembered why I never will be a lawyer. Reading rulings/judgments gives me a flipping head ache lol. He also talked about in that same area about how the studies showed only "correlation", not Causation. That was the legalese equivalent of a slap to the nuts

  3. PatMan says:

    The studies have never shown causation. Its a sad thing that it took a supreme court judge to figure out that correlation does not equal causation, and thus any conclusions drawn from such studies would be confounded.

    Of course and unfortunately, they didn't have to show causation to convince the crazys that were supporting the idea.
    haha Those crazy people that think video games cause violent behavior are PROBABLY the Sons and Daughters of the crazy people who thought the same thing about " Rock and Roll" music.

  4. _G_ says:

    I'm still positive that books cause violence. They're great at killing insects, and stupid people. Especially when a judge throws one at bad parents and other morons who don't understand what a rating system means.

    Yes, it's about time. I want to say more, but know I will end up swearing and alienating people. Very happy with this… very happy! 🙂

  5. Gun Sage says:

    Personally, I always looked at it like this. They tried to blame Columbine on Doom initially. At least, you know, until they realized no student looks like pink demons (well I don't know, maybe a couple of the jocks), didn't throw fireballs, and didn't wear goat antlers (again, maybe some of the goths, don't know). They tried again with the Virginia Tech shooter and Counterstrike…except CS had been out for, what, 8 years or so since that point with no reported cases of violence beyond possibly some destroyed keyboards.

    I'm more apt to get fired up after watching an action flick than playing a videogame, but the adrenaline subsides quickly. Of course, I also consider myself to be well-adjusted, so there is that, I suppose. It is good that the courts finally gave Yee a big "fuck you," but goddamn…6 years and many dollars later.