Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

California’s Twice-Failed Anti-Videogame Law Goes to the Supreme Court

Posted by Rampant Coyote on July 13, 2010

Jeff Green, former editor-in-chief of Computer Gaming World and Games for Windows, and now designer at EA, puts aside his usual hyperbole and fart jokes to focus on a serious matter – the resurrection of California’s atrocious anti-videogame legislation to be taken to the Supreme Court.

Why You Should Care About EMA v Schwarzenegger

I guess I should be grateful, as the law is likely to be struck down a third time, and a SCOTUS ruling should pretty much put an end to these garbage pieces of legislation that keep cropping up in years when state legislatures aren’t as busy trying to concoct ways of staving off bankruptcy. But there’s always the chance that this time, the court will have a lapse of reason, and decide that somehow this chilling piece of government overreach is somehow okay.

Just a short stab at some of the reasons its not okay:

  • It violates the first and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution.
  • It’s vague and more likely used as a political or commercial weapon or threat than to “save the children.”
  • It will have a chilling effect on the industry as a whole
  • Numerous studies have failed to provide any substantial link (beyond natural tendencies common to all entertainment and media) between videogame violence and real-world violence… it’s a massively dangerous and economy-destroying bill whose only purpose is to solve a non-existent problem.
  • More on the non-problem thing: Retailers have improved substantially over the last ten years in checking for IDs for M-Rated games. It will never be 100%, even with this law, but the law fails to accomplish anything that isn’t already being done.
  • It propagates a massive double-standard between games and other forms of entertainment media that has finally begun fading over the last few years.
  • It propagates a myth in pop culture that has also finally begun disappearing that video games are intended for children.
  • It puts indie game developers under massive threat, as they cannot afford ESRB ratings (and if they could, it would drive ESRB ratings prices through the roof or delay releases of games for YEARS because of the demand) — which seems to be the only reasonable defense against this law: to have “an independent ratings board gave it the seal of approval!”
  • The government is very poorly equipped to deal with the enforcement of this law in any reasonable manner, and I really don’t see that changing or being very different from state to state. It’s another ridiculous nanny-state law that is more likely to be used to persecute by those who know how to twist it rather than to prosecute.

So yeah. I’m a hatah. Cross fingers, scream at your governor and congressfolk if you live in California for wasting your taxpayer dollars defending this piece of idiocy, offer monetary support and / or moral support to those organizations working to fight it, and regardless of the outcome, keep working to prevent this kind of obscene overreach from ever happening again.

Good luck to us all.

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