Views abound on high court video game ruling

July 5th, 2011 by Craig Matsuda

The ¬†clamor hasn’t died down even after the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down a California law barring the sale to minors of video games deemed excessively violent.

News reporting on the justices’ 7-2 decision focused heavily on the high court’s espousal of First Amendment issues in the case, with both the Times on the East and West Coast featuring this angle in their stories. The online sources have broken down the matter well, for example with Scotusblog providing the briefs, documents and other relevant files and Gamasutra examining the dissenters and the wavering Justice Samuel Alito.

Since the decision’s announcement, of course, the analysis, discussion and commentary has flowed — including from some of the seeming victors in the case (the Entertainment Software Association) and those on the losing side (law sponsor Leland Yee) — and GamePolitics has kept pace with some of it with a roundup post.

While First Amendment advocates have celebrated the ruling, particularly as it applies to emerging technologies and entertainment, commentators have noted the case was not as cleanly decided as the vote suggests; besides the two justices who did not support the majority decision, both Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Alito concurred in the ruling but their dissents indicated they thought the California law simply too vague. Clearly, though the high court has ruled, key matters in the case won’t rest, with analysts warning that privacy, security, labeling and, yes, low-minded content could re-start efforts to regulate the video gaming industry.

Justice Clarence Thomas, of course, dissented and did so in a fashion that has opened up its own whole line of controversy with his argument that, dating to the Founders’ era, children should not be accorded First Amendment rights.

So what will the impact of this ruling ultimately be? What say those who follow this blog?

Posted in Technology, Video Games


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