Violent Videogames Are Still Legal for All (in the U.S.)

Today marks the end of California's long-running quest to keep violent videogames out of the hands of minors by way of force. This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered its decision on Brown v. Th

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Today marks the end of California’s long-running quest to keep violent videogames out of the hands of minors by way of force. This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered its decision on Brown v. The Entertainment Merchants Association, and now GameStop definitely can’t be arrested for selling pre-orders of Saints Row: The Third to Little Jimmy. To quote Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion:

Reading Dante is unquestionably more cultured and intellectually edifying than playing Mortal Kombat. But these cultural and intellectual differences are not constitutional ones. Crudely violent videogames, tawdry TV shows, and cheap novels and magazines are no less forms of speech than The Divine Comedy, and restrictions upon them must survive strict scrutiny. (source)

celebrate

I’m still not sure what side of the fence I fall on this story—whether I agree that videogames shouldn’t be singled out while the government doesn’t interfere with violent films, or whether, since I’m an adult, I’m totally OK with keeping kids away from games they shouldn’t be playing in the first place—but my understanding is that people are pretty stoked about this. So, hurrah! We should all celebrate by playing Call of Duty online with some 14 year olds.

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From 2002 to 2013

3 Comments

  1. I really don’t get this, I really don’t. Over where I live (in the UK), it has been illegal to sell games to people that are under the certified age for years. (Whenever a game or movie is scanned in a till, store assistants are reminded to check the age of the person buying the game). I don’t see it as discrimination of any kind. I think that if it is intended for a certain age then nobody under that age should play it. What is wrong with this?

  2. For me at least, this argument and case decision was never about keeping violent games out of the hands of minors. You’re right, Matt, in saying that it isn’t discrimination against minors. There’s a legitimate concern and it’s right to enforce it.

    But this decision wasn’t about that. The case being made was that videogames don’t qualify for constitutional protection of free speech in the same way as movies, books and other mediums, insinuating that they are something other than media, which just isn’t true.

    I’m not against preventing minors from buying games that aren’t age-appropriate, and from the excerpt it doesn’t sound like Justice Scalia is either, but claiming videogames don’t qualify as free speech isn’t the way to go about it.

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