Why the anti-videogame law was terrible and Doomed from the start

The Supreme Court decision that the California video game law (barring vendors from selling the game to minors) is in. Video games are a form of speech and therefore protected by the first amendment. This has been the limb GamerDad has been on for 8 years now. What this means is, California cannot legally stop a child from buying a game like Mortal Kombat. Such laws, though they might seem obvious and obviously good, are impossible in this country because free speech basically says that the government cannot legislate against it.


Huh? It does something that’s obvious *kids shouldn’t see ultra-violent imagery simply because they can’t process it with any kind of context* and violence is, y’know, bad. In America, we can’t prohibit or make it an offense to spread ideas. Games aren’t the best vessels for ideas, true, but it applies. Now, whether you agree or not, America protects this right and it’s defined clearly enough to make the Supreme Court decision inevitable. Only pornography, for dubious but far more numerous reasons, is the only exception.

What about the movies! R means R … unless parents approve.

There’s no law. None. That says a kid can’t pay cash and walk into something abhorrently violent like Saw, or the Passion of the Christ. No law. Theater owners make it policy not to allow this because, well, there’d be an outcry. Not to mention how annoying 10-year olds are in general, much less during a scary movie.

Guess what? The game industry does this too. Or it’s supposed to. The major chains – Wal-Mart, Target, Gamestop, Best Buy make it policy to card. Policy becomes habit. Also, if you think about it, how often do you see kids under 13 buying video games unsupervised? What about the “kids” over 13? Well, come on, you gotta assume they can use the Internet, they’ll see it and anything else they want to see. And if they WANT to see vile gore, or Hostel 2, or Human Centipede (do not google this) – they can. Easily. (They are doing it RIGHT NOW!)

It’s 2011, you can’t ban anything these days.

the law didn’t protect kids. It didn’t do anything but sit there and act all unconstitutional. It was doomed from the start.

At this point I should say that the Mortal Kombat stuff sickens me. That I’m happy that ultra-violent games are rare and mostly unsuccessful (Mortal Kombat thanks you for all the attention, media!)  and despite not being directly harmful, that kids shouldn’t play these games.

But that’s your job Mom and Dad! Not Senator Yee in California’s.

No Responses to “Why the anti-videogame law was terrible and Doomed from the start”

  1. Very very true, Andrew! Parenting involves making choices for your kids when needed and teaching them the skills to make those choices themselves in other cases. Having a ‘nanny state’ tell you what is OK and not is destructive in many ways, in that it further removes accountability.

    But the worst thing is that it would drive the context of what is and is not appropriate into the hands of a government agency, in which we would then have the state deciding what expression is protected and what is not. We already have enough issues with over-reaching federal and state governments!

  2. I have to agree with you but I find the comparison to the film ratings an odd one. Had this Law passed it would have likely meant large retailers wouldn’t carry titles that could get them in trouble making it harder for developers to make the games they want. But the MPAA ratings are doing the same thing for many film makers. Strange how two similar industries have the opposite problem.

    At least now it’s not an issue, at least not until Leland Yee wastes more tax money re-drafting this to pass muster. Hopefully the court that reviews that will be just as rational.

  3. I for one am glad this law failed. People need to start taking responsibility for their actions and not blaming video games

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