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State's violent video game law goes supreme

July 12, 2010 6:53:14 PM PDT
California Attorney General Jerry Brown is filing arguments today to defend the 2005 state law that prevents the sale and rental of violent video games to minors.

The law, authored by State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, has been upheld by lower courts, including the U.S., Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

"It's really crying out for some direction as to how we can, in fact, have a rather successful violent video game bill, and so I'm really hopeful and pleased," he said.

The Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari and will hear the case in the fall. It has never heard a case before about violent video games.

The Entertainment Software Association in Washington, D.C. represents the video game industry. Its senior vice president of communications, Rich Taylor, is confident the Supreme Court will strike down the California law on the grounds of the First Amendment.

Taylor talked to us by Skype video and he says that the video game industry should have the same artistic freedom as other art forms, such as movies and music.

"If for some reason the State of California is able to say what can and can't be sold, what can or can't be marketed, there's no reason to believe that stops with one form of entertainment. It can go to movies, it can go to books, it can go to music," he said.

Yee is hoping the Supreme Court will see the value of the law in that it gives parents a tool to protect their children from violence. The law carries a $1,000 penalty for any retailer who sells or rents a violent game to a minor.

"By the push of a button on your computer, you literarlly are killing, hacking, doing some terrible things to individuals. And after you've done these hundreds of thousands of times, you overlearn the behavior, and that becomes part of your behavioral repertoire," he said.

The video game industry maintains its voluntary rating system works, along with intervention by parents.

"We do our part. It partners with parents through our rating system and we strongly believe that that is doing the role it needs to do, and there really is no reason for the government to intervene here," Taylor said.

The Supreme Court will, in essence, be deciding whether young people have First Amendment rights. The hearing will be this fall with a decision expected next year.


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