Supreme Court to Consider Violent Video Games

Today the Supreme Court agreed to hear California's appeal of a unanimous 9th Circuit decision (PDF) that last year struck down a 2005 state law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. Adapting the test used for obscenity, the law covers any game that depicts "killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being" if "a reasonable person, considering the game as a whole, would find [it] appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors"; it is "patently offensive to prevailing standards in the community as to what is suitable for minors"; and it lacks "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors." Half a dozen states have passed laws imposing restrictions on the distribution of violent video games, but all have been overturned by the courts on First Amendment grounds. To uphold the law, the Court would have to recognize a new category of speech that receives only partial First Amendment protection. The Entertainment Merchants Association thinks that's a bad idea (PDF):

In over fifty years of obscenity jurisprudence, the Court has never applied the obscenity doctrine outside the context of sexual speech. What the State proposes in this case would effect a sea change in the permissible regulation of all media—including books, movies, and television programs—that contain violent content and are accessible to minors.

The 9th Circuit declined "to boldly go where no court has gone before" by treating violent material like obscenity when it is accessible to minors. It also noted that the state had failed to demonstrate "a causal link between minors playing video games and actual psychological or neurological harm"; nor did it show that alternatives to prohibition, such as the industry's rating system and game platforms with content controls, were inadequate to address parents' concerns.

The Court delayed making a decision about the case, Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association, until after it decided U.S. v. Stevens, which raised the related issue of whether videos depicting violent treatment of animals are outside the scope of the First Amendment. The video game case will be argued during the term that begins in October.

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  • Hillary Clinton||

    Look, I don't care that violent crime rates are down across the board, particularly for teenagers. I saw what happened at Columbine, and Virginia Tech, and that other school.

    Video games are bad news, you don't need facts to tell you that.

  • JB||

    You don't need facts at all when you are a stupid cunt.

    Hillary is most famous for being the one cunt Bill got tired of fucking.

  • Seer||

    That other school was Northern Illinois University for anyone who cares.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Those things happened because the kids were listening to the Rush Limbaugh on the wireless.

  • Joe M||

    I totally called it this morning. And I even got some preemptive snark in against the governator.

  • Tman||

    Kotaku -the video game blog from Gawker- has been all over this of course.

    They had a quote from State Senator Leland Yee, the Democrat and child psychologist representing San Francisco and San Mateo, who wrote the California bill. Aside from the fact that this is a stupid law that is in search of a problem to resolve (teen violent crime rates are down across the board) his third person stuff was pretty crazy.

    "This is not about Leland Yee trying to destroy the industry," Yee said in an interview with Kotaku. "This is not about Leland Yee trying to prevent any of you game [developers] from developing any more atrocious kinds of games. This is a free society. If you have the imagination to do something even more horrible with the technology, then god bless you. That's part of our freedom of expression here in America, but you just have to figure out when it's appropriate and when it's not appropriate. For me, as a child psychologist you ought not be doing it for kids."

    EEETS FOR THE CHIRRUN!!!! PLEEEZ SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHIRRUN!!!

  • ||

    Leland Yee likes spicy chicken!!!

  • ||

    +3

  • ||

    I'm so ronery....

  • Mikey||

    Those are some evil Asian parents. Giving your kid a name with two l's has to be a new low.

  • Almanian||

    a new "row"

  • The Real Barry O||

    An Italian, a Scotsman, and a Chinese fellow were hired at a construction site. The foreman pointed out a huge pile of sand and told the Italian guy, "You're in charge of sweeping." To the Scotsman he said, "You're in charge of shoveling." And to the Chinese guy, "You're in charge of supplies."
    He then said, "Now, I have to leave for a little while. I expect you guys to make a dent in that there pile."
    The foreman went away for a of couple hours, and, when he returned, the pile of sand was untouched. He asked the Italian, "Why didn't you sweep any of it?" The Italian replied, "I no hava no broom. You said to the Chinese fella that he a wasa in a charge of supplies, but he hasa disappeared and I no coulda finda him nowhere." Then the foreman turned to the Scotsman and said, "And you, I thought I told you to shovel this pile."
    The Scotsman replied, "Aye, ye did lad, boot ah couldnay get meself a shoovel! Ye left th' Chinese gadgie in chairge of supplies, boot ah couldnay fin' him either." The foreman was really angry by now and stormed off toward the pile of sand to look for the Chinese guy.

    Just then, the Chinese guy jumped out from behind the pile of sand and yelled...

    "SUPPLIES!!"

  • Derp||

    Was a funnier premise when it was a scene in Weird Al Yankovic's "UHF".

  • ||

    plus 3

  • Lazlo Thoth (look me up!)||

    the law covers any game that depicts "killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being"

    Molon labe!

  • ||

    """the law covers any game that depicts "killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being"""

    I guess "The Bible" the video game will never get released.

  • Rich||

    Obviously the solution is to require the player to solve a randomly-generated, and increasingly difficult, math problem in order to access each new phase of the game.

  • ||

    It's Funducation!

  • Warty||

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O.....ideo_game)

  • Ghost of Schrödinger's cat||

    You really sugarfree'd that link

  • Warty||

    In this case, no, because I didn't bother to do the tag. Shitcock.

  • Ghost of Schrödinger's cat||

    regardless,
    try this
    http://bit.ly/

  • Warty||

    I don't see the point of these URL-shortening sites. It's not particularly hard to use the "a" tag.

  • Brett L||

    The fact that reason's blog has a nickname for crapping the "a" tag bed may argue against your point.

  • TP||

    Nice. Thanks.

  • Roman Polanski||

    "patently offensive to prevailing standards in the community as to what is suitable for minors"

    Okay, but my community's standards may vary.

  • Jaime Kelly||

    No doubt. I live in a town whose official motto is: "Springfield: Shooting and Ass-Fucking Newbies on a Whim -- and Punkbuster-Enabled!"

  • ||

    Punkbuster does jack shit. Anybody here play Battlefield Heroes?

  • ||

    No, we play real games. Like Borderlands.

  • Ghost of Schrödinger's cat||

    a game the Onion A.V. Club called "a videogame with the balls to depict the generic post-apocalyptic wasteland as it really will be: utterly boring and lifeless."

  • ||

    wait, I thought you were talking about Borderlands, not Fallout 3...

  • Ghost of Schrödinger's cat||

  • WWJGD||

    Rednecks...In...SPAAAAAACE!

  • ||

    Yeah I played a bit on my friend's. Teh suxxor.

    Very generic and boring. Half the game is literally driving from one end of the map to the other over and over again.

  • Solanum||

    Epi - Were you ever able to kill Crawmerax? I finally gave up trying to do it solo. Even with decent weaponry it was too frustrating.

  • ||

    I did it group. Trying to do it solo is crazy, as it's just too much circle-driving.

    I'm mostly finished with General Knoxx's Armory, but I still have a bit to go. It's a little tedious without the Fast Transport stations, but god damn it I want a pearlescent weapon!

  • Solanum||

    I've found plenty of dark orange legendary items, but nothing pearlescent yet. I may have to retool my assassin into a scavenger and see if that does anything.

  • ||

    I have my Siren tooled as an elemental effect killing machine specializing in corrosive and static weapons (it's astonishing how quickly I can demolish a bunch of enemies with my Eridian weapons and all decked out for static effects), and I really want a corrosive or static pearlescent weapon.

  • Warty||

    This sounds disturbingly like something Dan T would write.

  • ||

    That's rich coming from someone who plays Dance Dance Revolution religiously.

  • Warty||

    “What the hell?” Smith exclaimed. “That wasn’t from a Lnormill ray! It felt more like a quadro-helium redax beam or something!”

  • ||

    Confrontation at Pangar Nine

  • Warty||

    So is Borderlands worth the $60, or should I wait a year and get the edition with all the DLCs for $40?

  • ||

    There is a lot of gameplay, especially with the DLCs (the zombie one is particularly good, because it's a totally new environment and enemy type). If you want something to play now, get it.

    I have a particular fondness for random weapon generating games like Diablo and Borderlands, so it worked for me. If you want a lot of story, you won't get it. If you want a lot of killing and loot, you will.

  • Warty||

    There was a kid on my floor in the freshman dorm who spent all his time playing Diablo. He dropped out of school to become a hand model. I loved Diablo before that, but that fucking loser scared me away from games like Diablo ever since. But I guess now that my life is a shambles and all, I may as well get it.

  • ||

    Diablo was a great game, but...hand model? No wonder you're scarred. Come on, admit it--that story's really about you.

    Borderlands is fun, and is a first person shooter as opposed to Diablo's top-down tile system. Think Half-Life with randomized weapons and leveling up.

  • ||

    Half of the game is spent driving around barren landscapes, the other half is spent collecting $28 dollars from the thousands of identical lockers in each god damn fucking place. I'm sure there was also some shooting in there somewhere...

  • Ska||

    There's plenty of shooting, the problem is that you're shooting the same six enemy types over and over.

  • Horde4Lyfe||

    Epi, you ever play Counterstike or Day of Defeat? Nothing finer than mowing down a bunch of hapless Allies with a MG42 :D

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Sure he's not playing Chu Chu Rocket on a Dreamcast?

  • Salinger||

    "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors"

    ...mine too.

  • ||

    Better stay away from my video games.

  • SIV||

    I don't see the appeal in gaming.

    Shut Up and Dance

  • Ghost of Schrödinger's cat||

    hey, you encrusted twat-stain,
    your website resized my browser.

  • SIV||

    Yeah it does that
    What do you want for free?

  • Ghost of Schrödinger's cat||

    a warning

  • SIV||

    sorry the flash game is kinda fun for a while. Blowing away ground squirrels. It is from CCI, the makers of fine rimfire cartridges and primers

  • Almanian||

    That was fun after a long day.

  • ||

    LOL dont those pompous windbags have anything better to do?

    Lou
    www.anon-vpn.se.tc

  • Helen Lovejoy||

    Won't somebody PLEASE think of the Children?

  • ||

    Judging from the other circuit's opinions on this issue, and the Supreme Court's recent pro-free speech decisions (Citizens United/Stevens), I'd say that the Cali law is getting struck down.

  • ||

    JC|4.26.10 @ 8:19PM|#
    "Judging from the other circuit's opinions on this issue, and the Supreme Court's recent pro-free speech decisions (Citizens United/Stevens), I'd say that the Cali law is getting struck down."

    We'd hope, but I wonder if they can get Yee to take some remedial reading courses:
    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,..."

  • ||

    That means the court has to play 'em a bit, doesn't it?

    That's kinda fun to think about...

    Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the last two standing in a FarCry 2 Deathmatch...

    Maybe they'll form a clan! Watch out for SC|BaderBot!

  • ||

    The only way I'm for this is if it instantly makes Evony illegal.

  • Ghost of Schrödinger's cat||

    don't forget Farmville.

  • Evony Wench||

    Come Play, My Lord

  • Barack Obama||

    The problem with you is that you are just clinging to your user manuals and your (virtual) guns.

  • Barack Obama||

    The problem with you is that you are just clinging to your user manuals and your (virtual) guns.

  • ||

    Just so long as I can keep using mini-nukes.

  • The Real Barry O||

    Let me be clear. These video games are not preparing our children for the new economy. They will not be able to service our wind propellors. They will not be able to find jobs paying down our debt. Except Left4Dead. That game is essential. The zombies are coming, and they will be many.

  • Seer||

    Pfff, those are fake running zombies.

  • ||

    I remember when Age of Empires came out, and Age of Empires 2 blew up big and went mainstream...

    The goal was genocide. If anything's offensive...shouldn't it be genocide sold as mainstream entertainment?

    As always, the government gets everything backwards--even when they could just be wrong, they seem to get it completely/totally wrong. They really shouldn't be making decisions for anybody.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    The goal was genocide. If anything's offensive...shouldn't it be genocide sold as mainstream entertainment?


    Age of Empires 2 was a favorite.

    I learned early that slaying the enemy villagers is necessary for victory.

  • Horde4Lyfe||

    Absolutely. The same concept applie in AOEIII> My wife and I play via LAN and she always gets pissed when my Redcoats mow down her villagers. [Insert evil laugh here].

  • Horde4Lyfe||

    Wow, note to self, proofread.

    *applies

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    I've got Pong. Oh, and Duck Hunt.

    ... Hobbit

  • ||

    Duck Hunt teaches children to be cruel towards animals and desensitizes them to violence. Pong creates a disgusting capitalist competitive urge. Both should be banned.

  • ||

    Pong creates a disgusting capitalist competitive urge.

    Talk about reading too much into stuff.

  • ||

    Oh, and Breakout is clearly anti-authoritarian and disrespectful of the Police State.

  • Ivan||

    I have a pong game cocktail table.

  • BakedPenguin||

    You're a madman - that game is way too gory for me. Next you'll be telling me you're one of those Brickout psychos.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Crap. And I missed wylie's Breakout reference one post above the one I replied to.

  • Mad Max||

    I suspect a law like this would be less than fully enforced, given the creativity of kids in getting around these sorts of rules.

    But suppose it were fully enforced - that would simply mean that kids would nag their parents into buying them these games, and many parents would do precisely this.

    Does that mean we shouldn't have such laws? I think it could be a good idea to say to kids: "if your parents want to get you this stuff, that's their business, but if you want to go behind your parents' backs, you have to take the risk (however low in practice) of breaking the law.'

  • Mad Max||

    The law doesn't even apply unless you 'sell or rent [the violent game] . . . to a minor.'

    There's nothing in there against selling it to Mom or Dad, or even to broad-minded Uncle Bob.

  • Mad Max||

    And when a game-store owner sells a game to a minor, where do you think the money usually comes from with which the minor buys the game?

  • ||

    Doing chores?

    LOL, nevermind.

  • Mad Max||

    And in finding workers to do these chores, parents used a blind bidding process where the children competed on equal terms with many other chore-providers. The children just happened to make the best bid, it had nothing to do with their relationship to their parents.

  • Kiwi Dave||

    + $5

  • Gyro Captain||

    I have a good point, but I don't want to interrupt this great conversation you're having with yourself, Kuharsky.

  • Mad Max||

    It is so cruel of you to deny me your wisdom!

  • Forrest||

    Probably child prostitution, child armed robbery, or child embezzlement.

  • Les||

    Should we say the same thing to kids who want to read, say, Stephen King? Jim Thompson? What about a book on violent crime cases?

  • 123||

    Children don't read, they watch cartoons. Although next they'll change from disclosing animated violence to preventing those cartoons from airing on Saturday mornings.

    I've always been surprised by how long Pokemon has been on although it is clearly cartoon dog/cock fighting.

  • Mad Max||

    You're asking the wrong person. The parents ought to make decisions about the upbringing of their children.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    King does like to drop the f- and c- bombs like salt on a bland steak. I read The Stand recently and my only shocked reaction was "They said cunt back in 1979?"

  • ||

    The Terminator fighting against violent video games. Classic.

    No word on whether the T2 Arcade Game will be reissued so that minors can be forbidden from playing it.

    would have to recognize a new category of speech that receives only partial First Amendment protection.

    What could possibly go wrong?!

  • ||

    Shall we take bets on which side Alito votes?

  • Alito||

    I'll tell you now. I shall vote on the correct side.

  • unforgiving||

    What a kidder!

    We know you'll vote on the side of strip searching the little brats. For their own protection. Just to be sure.

  • libertarian democrat||

    I think the most authoritative research on video games and kids is the book "Grand Theft Childhood" which despite the name, basically says that video games might not be ideal, but they aren't that bad. And the low violence cartoony ones tend to be worse than things like GTA where you see someone bleed.

  • libertarian democrat||

    So basically, scientifically this is bullshit along with the whole moral problem.

  • Ghost of Schrödinger's cat||

    you're name is more of a contradiction than mine.

  • ||

    Not a contradiction, just a linear combination of two mutually exclusive states.

  • ||

    Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association

    If you had told me ten years ago that Ahnold Schwarzenegger would be the named plaintiff in a case against violent entertainment...

  • ||

    If you had told me ten years ago that Ahnold Schwarzenegger would be the named plaintiff in a case against violent entertainment...

    Tulpa for the win.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    A couple of time in college we tried to count the deaths in Commando as the video ran.

    I won't claim that it can't be done.

    But it can't be done by a bunch of guys drinking and trying to provide MST3K banter at the same time.

  • Warty||

    We used to drink every time Arnold killed someone, every time Arnold showed off his muscles, and every time Arnold said an awesome one-liner. God, that fucks you up.

  • Warty||

    I LET HEEM GO

    LET OFF SOME STEAM, BENNETT

    DON'T DISTURB MY FRIEND, HE'S DEAD TIRED

  • Kiwi Dave||

    and the ultimate:

    "You're a funny man, Sully, I like you. That's why I'm going to kill you last."

  • Kiwi Dave||

    actually, I lied, the best quote was " really love listening to your little piss-ant soldiers trying to talk tough. They make me laugh. If Matrix was here, he'd laugh too."

    (IMDB mistakenly has "piss-head" instead of piss-ant).

    Btw, any film where the baddie is an Aussie is fine by me.

  • Geoff||

    This isn't a plane, it's a canoe with wings!

    Fuckin' whore.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    "Sully, remember how I told you I would kill you last?"

    "Yeah, Matrix, you did say that!"

    "I lied."

    Matrix then drops sully to his death in a California ravine. That one always makes me cry tears of laughter.

  • Kiwi Dave||

    I had a friend who grew up in the USSR in the last days of Communism. He and all his friends loved Commando. I guess that must've been about when Gorbachev figured out the game was up.

  • Ghost of Schrödinger's cat||

    YOU'RE A FUNNY MAN, SULLY, I LIKE YOU. THAT'S WHY I'M GOING TO KILL YOU LAST.

    Matrix: Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last?
    Sully: That's right, Matrix. You did.
    Matrix: I lied.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    Shit. I should read more before posting.

  • LarryA||

    It also noted that the state had failed to demonstrate "a causal link between minors playing video games and actual psychological or neurological harm"; nor did it show that alternatives to prohibition, such as the industry's rating system and game platforms with content controls, were inadequate to address parents' concerns.

    I bet if we actually studied the issue, we’d find that porn doesn’t hurt anyone either.

  • ||

    My money's on Sotomayor stomping all comers in the SCOTUS round-robin Modern Warfare 2 tourney.

  • Ska||

    She's a camping little bitch, always using the AA12 and the commando knife lunge.

  • Forrest||

    It is truly appalling that life-bearing penises are treated as less worthy of display to children than death-bearing guns.

    Penises, not guns! Spread the word.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    It is truly appalling that life-bearing penises are treated as less worthy of display to children than death-bearing guns.


    When was the last time anyone got killed by a fully erect penis entering a lubricated vagina?

  • cynical||

    It's no fair deliberately trying to summon Steve Smith.

  • aborted fetus||

    hey!

  • ||

    Ever heard of STDs?

    Also, you don't watch enough Fringe.

  • wingnutx||

    Fuck Borderlands. The new Fallout is due in a few months.

  • Ska||

    + 1 rad/sec

  • Zardoz||

    Penis is evil! The Penis shoots Seeds, and makes new Life to poison the Earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the Gun shoots Death and purifies the Earth of the filth of Brutals. Go forth, and kill! Zardoz has spoken.

  • A||

    JUSTICE DEMANDS THAT MAN'S PRINCIPLES BE DEFINED IN TERMS OF BLACK AND WHITE, IN GOOD OR EVIL! MEN CAN CHOOSE TO BE GREY, TO BE CORRUPT, BUT THERE CAN BE NO GREY, NO CORRUPT PRINCIPLES! THAT FOOL THINKS THERE IS A MIDDLE OF THE ROAD BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL, THAT HE CAN HAVE THE ADVANTAGES OF BOTH SIDES - TO BE HELD AS GOOD AND TO PROFIT THROUGH EVIL! I'LL SHOW YOU WHERE THE ACTIONS OF THE COMPROMISERS OF EVIL REALLY TAKE THEM!

  • Nitori Kawashiro||

    “If a reasonable person would find that [it] appeals to morbid interests” it must be prohibited? I guess that spells the end of the politician caste.

  • ||

    Its funny that they chose to use a screen-shot from Resident evil 5..
    Resident evil 5, a the most racist game ever...And for the record I have no problem with kids playing violent games but they should be restricted from playing online (they {kids}are annoying, and not all that good.)

  • ||

    They should summon Capcom employees to testify about steroids. Good god. What happened to you, Chris Redfield?

  • hmm||

    Man they would probably be pissed if they knew people, not me, named their toons after politicians or judges and ran around killing each other.

    The Penn and Teller Bullshit episode on this subject was great.

  • BeesInTheBrain||

    I suspect a law like this would be less than fully enforced, given the creativity of kids in getting around these sorts of rules.

    But suppose it were fully enforced - that would simply mean that kids would nag their parents into buying them these games, and many parents would do precisely this.
    Awesome. So if I buy my 11 year old a "violent" video game, he gets tired of it, takes it to school and sells it to a friend you would support him being prosecuted, put on probation and made a ward of the state. I am not certain what this country needs is more children with criminal records for stupid shit like this.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Why is this different or more controversial than banning the sale or rental of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf to minors?

  • ||

    Make no mistake: Also crappy.

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