Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the law in 2005, and it was immediately challenged by groups such as the Entertainment Software Association and Entertainment Merchants Association. In 2007, a district court judge found the law unconstitutional, finding video games protected as First Amendment speech; that decision was upheld on appeal by the Ninth Circuit.
One of the main proponents of the law is Leland Yee, a state senator who represents San Francisco and most of San Mateo County. Yee argues that this law is similar to those that restrict minors’ access to tobacco, alcohol, and sexually explicit material.
“I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will help us give parents a valuable tool to protect children from the harmful effects of excessively violent, interactive video games,” Yee said in a statement.
The concept underlying the law is that violence in video games breeds violence in real life, although opponents of the law argue that studies have shown that “games do not incite aggression in normal healthy/stable youths.”
The law defines a “violent” game as a “game in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being.” Such games would have to be specially labeled with an obvious sticker as well. Under the law, selling violent games to minors could result in a $1,000 fine.
According to Yee, this will be the first time the Supreme Court hears arguments on violence in video games; oral arguments are likely to be held in the fall, with a decision handed down sometime thereafter.
What do you think about restrictions on the sale of violent video games to minors?