Violent game sales ban goes before high court Tuesday (Updated)

Gaming, Technology

The U.S. Supreme Court begins hearing arguments Tuesday about a federal court’s decision to throw out California’s ban on the sale and rental of violent video games to minors.

Backers of the rejected law cite studies linking violent content in games to aggression, antisocial behavior and desensitization to violence. The Associated Press reports:

California’s measure would have regulated games more like pornography than movies, prohibiting the sale or rental of games that give players the option of “killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being” to anyone under the age of 18. Only retailers would be punished with fines of up to $1,000 for each infraction.

The games industry believes it’s a First Amendment issue:

“It’s not so much a video game case as a First Amendment case,” said George Rose, chief public policy officer at Activision Blizzard Inc., the Santa Monica, Calif.-based publisher of the popular “Call of Duty” and “Guitar Hero” gaming franchises. The gamemaker filed a friend-of-the-court brief opposing California’s ban, which was never enforced.

Other allies in the fight include Xbox manufacturer Microsoft Corp., “Star Wars” publisher LucasArts, The Recording Academy, Motion Picture Association of America, as well as the Entertainment Merchants Association and Entertainment Software Association, which sued to block California’s ban, calling it “unnecessary, unwarranted and unconstitutional.”

Read more from the AP report.

UPDATE:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed sympathy for a California law that aims to keep children from buying ultra-violent video games in which players maim, kill or sexually assault images of people.

But several justices said the law faces a high constitutional hurdle before going into effect.

The high court has been reluctant to carve out exceptions to the First Amendment, striking down a ban on so-called “crush videos” that showed actual deaths of animals earlier this year.

Read more from Tuesday’s AP report.

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