Supreme Court To Hear Arguments On CA Video Game Ban Law

Today, the United States Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments in  Schwarzenegger v. EMA.  This case will determine if the 2005 law passed in California banning the sale of violent video games to minors is constitutional or not.

The law overrides the ESRB ratings by requiring a seperate label be placed on video games deemed inappropriate for minors.  The point of contention in the law is the labelling of “violent video games” in the law makes it possible to label children’s games such as “Super Mario Bros.” as violent and require an 18+ label.  This of course could greatly affect video game sales, as well as the type of content that they could sell to minors.

As a parent, I agree with the restriction of sales of violent video games to minors.  However, I believe that the ESRB has created a robust system of ratings designed to catch the attention of parents and make it easy to decide whether or not a game is appropriate for their child.  I also believe that the ESRB’s retail partners overall are doing a good job of enforcing these ratings by refusing to sell Mature rated games to minors.

However, laws passed by the government are usually intentionally vague and are open to broad interpretation, usually doing more harm than good.  And instead of creating an arbitrary system to label games as the government sees fit to label as Mature or 18+, I think that any state government would be better off to partner with the ESRB in enforcing its already established ratings system as they already have 15 years of experience behind them.


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