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IGDA on California’s Video Game Ban

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I’m a big free speech advocate, and I’m strongly against most well-intentioned attempts to protect us from ourselves – or, more cynically, to protect some people from people whose preferences are different – so this is worth mentioning.

The Independent Game Developer’s Association is filing an amicus brief in the court battle over California’s attempt to ban the sale of violent video games to minors.  Details on the case are here:

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to rule on the constitutionality of a state law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.  The Court accepted for review an appeal by the state of California, urging the Court to adopt a new constitutional standard that would enable states to ban such games for those under age 18.  The case is Schwarzenegger v. Video Software Dealers Association (08-1448).

The Court apparently had been holding the case until it decided another First Amendment case involving violent expression — U.S. v. Stevens (08-769).  In that ruling, issued last Tuesday, the Court struck down a federal law that banned the depiction in videotapes of animal cruelty.  In that ruling, the Justices refused to create a new exception to the First Amendment free speech right.  The Court could have opted to send the California case back to the Ninth Circuit Court to weigh the impact of the Stevens decision. Instead, it simply granted review; the case will be heard and decided in the Court’s next Term, starting Oct.  4.

From IGDA’s call to action:

The IGDA in partnership with the AIAS, is working with the ESA to put together an AMICUS brief to support the decision to revoke this ban and declare this law unconstitutional. With the concept that video/computer/electronic games are a new form of media and art form, our industry should be afforded the freedom of speech protections that have been fought for and won by print, audio and video groups from newspapers to rap artists to filmmakers across the country. We need your help in securing powerful arguments that explain how this industry has evolved into a true profession over the years, and a medium that touches children and adults around the world every day.

So, if you care about your rights to buy videogames, or about giving government yet another tool to control what we see and hear, you might consider weighing in – if not on this court case, if to your elected representatives asking them what on Earth they were thinking in the first place.