My home state of California has been having legal misadventures with videogames lately. Specifically, the case of Schwarzenegger v. Video Software Dealers Association, 08-1448 has been making headlines. Most videogame sites have been misrepresenting the situation, saying that California is an oppressive state, we hate videogames and are trying to ban them forever, and only a complete idiot would elect an actor as his governor.
I think they’re just in a bad mood because our governor is in better shape than they are.
So here’s the real story. The Governator signed a law that makes it illegal for videogame stores to sell M-rated games to kids without their parents’ permission. Just like how kids can’t go to R-rated movies without their parents’ permission. That’s kind of the point of having the ERSB system to begin with, right? Making sure kids won’t play games that are inappropriate for them?
Well, videogame companies immediately protested the law, saying that it is super-oppressive to tell them who they can and can’t sell videogames to, by jingo. If GameStop wants to sell a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV to a toddler, then they should be able to! Businesses generally care more about being profitable than being moral, as some cynics say. So they hired Manfred von Karma and sued the state.
The law has never gone into effect due to these legal issues. Right now, the case is still bouncing around in the court system, because whenever any decision is reached, an appeal is immediately filed. Which brings me to this joke:
Q: Why is a lawyer like a banana?
A: Because they’re always appealing.
Perhaps someday in the future, a final ruling will be made on this case, but for now, not much is happening because the state has more important things to worry about.