California appeals game law to Supreme Court

State requests nation's highest court take a look at its twice-denied attempt to make violent game sales to minors a crime.

by

With a package of budget-balancing measures soundly defeated by California voters yesterday, the state is facing a $21.3 billion budget deficit. Despite that, the state is continuing its court battle with the Entertainment Software Association over a law to prevent the sale of violent games to children, a battle that has already cost the state more than a quarter of a million dollars.

State Senator Leland Yee.

The law's original author, State Senator Leland Yee, today announced that California has petitioned the Supreme Court to review the fight over the law. In 2007, a circuit court judge struck down the law as unconstitutional but admitted he was "sympathetic to what the legislature sought to do." In February, an appellate court judge backed up the original ruling. Months before the appellate court's decision, in an appearance on GameSpot's HotSpot podcast, Yee predicted that the dispute would be pushed to the Supreme Court.

Signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger but challenged in court before it could take effect, the bill sought to ban the sale or rental of "violent video games" to children. A "violent" game was defined 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." Under the law, retailers that sold such games would be subject to a $1,000 fine.

The bill would also have required "violent" video games to bear a two-inch-by-two-inch sticker with a "solid white '18' outlined in black" on their front covers. That's more than twice the size of the labels that currently adorn game-box covers and display the familiar Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating.

"I signed this important measure to ensure parents are involved in determining which video games are appropriate for their children," Schwarzenegger said in a statement, adding, "I will continue to vigorously defend this law and protect the well-being of California's kids."

The Entertainment Software Association issued a statement of its own, unsurprisingly criticizing the state for pursuing the matter further.

"California's citizens should see this for what it is--a complete waste of the state's time and resources," ESA president and CEO Michael Gallagher said. "California is facing a $21 billion budget shortfall coupled with high unemployment and home foreclosure rates. Rather than focus on these very real problems, Governor Schwarzenegger has recklessly decided to pursue wasteful, misguided, and pointless litigation."

Discussion

515 comments
nappan
nappan

Heh... retirement for Ahnold with his horrific scarecrow of a wife. Yeek. ;)

Elvis4576
Elvis4576

this must be embarrassing for arnold spending everyones time and money fighting video games instead of fighthing REAL problems maybe he should stick to making movies not decisions

shakensparco
shakensparco

Wo do have a first ammendment people. I guess legislators want to define it where it shouldn't go. Its not illegal for a minor to look at porn, buy an R rated movie, or pretend like they are killing each other. Once those are illegal, I'll think about this one.

AnarchyRising
AnarchyRising

@Junkmandude - Couldn't agree more. First, thankfully, his acting career, now his political career. Arnold, save your state and quit cowering to scare tactic politicians and lobbyists. You are truly pathetic. Who said the government was trying to protect us? Haha. You mean control us. Demyx_XIII is right, it should be up to the parents. I don't think it should be a government decision for any part of this, state or federal.

Junkmandude
Junkmandude

Arnold, soon your role as California's governer will be terminated because of your waste of time and money on issues like this.

brain3d
brain3d

Yeah, because people couldn't see the 18+ logo before....

Demyx_XIII
Demyx_XIII

Really? The government's trying to "protect" us? In my opinion, it should be up to the parents as to what they want their kids playing. If the parents think it's too violent for their kids, that's their decision, not the government's. If parents think that their kids can play a game at their age, then they will let their kids play it. It's not like kids can march into Wal-Mart and buy rated M games without their parents, anyway.

brendanhunt1
brendanhunt1

Arnold Schwarzenegger? you would think he would be against the bill.

Sunrie
Sunrie

Yeah, instead of trying to actually fix the state's problems, waste your time on this unconstitutional crap, Arnold!

mr0806
mr0806

lol you ever that California commercial with them in it trying to entice tourism, it really turns me away from cali...

nappan
nappan

There's no agency, person or government that COULD license and examine parents... but here's a thought. Before you can have a kid, you have to spend... lets saaay... 3-5 years, as a foster parent, or you could save time and adopt your first kid, and be allowed to have one after 1 year. I realize that's pure fantasy, but it would be nice to see it happen.

mr0806
mr0806

Indeed they should...

plm3d_basic
plm3d_basic

Maybe there should be a license for being a parent.

Hayabashi
Hayabashi

Why not target parents who don't watch what their 12 year old child plays? A good up bringing is not based on what the child does on his own but what a FAMILY does together.

MrCartmenez
MrCartmenez

a $21 billion dollar budget shortfall isn't that bad actually in the UK our national debt is £615 billion but still your wasting your time Arnie!!!

Glade_Gnarr
Glade_Gnarr

That's what you get for electing the terminator to be your governor.

mr0806
mr0806

you know how you have to go through a process and get a license to get married they should do the same thing for having kids, there are some dumb people in this world whose genes should not have the opportunity to reproduce...

nappan
nappan

@Jason_da_psycho: I'd also like to know when kids these days (I can't beleive I just said that) get the TIME to play GTAIV?! I mean, I games a lot as a teenager, but the games I played as a KID were old, and therefore often short. Either way, my mother didn't let me actually OWN a console or handheld until I was 13! Right or wrong, it meant I read a lot more than I gamed, although I did a lot of the latter at a friend's place and on a computer. If parents were truly structuring their kid's time, even if it's just to tell them to go play on a jungle-gym or in the yard, lives would be more balenced. There are so many problems illuminated by examing the gaming "issue" that make even the worst games look like a cakewalk. Parents need to realize that in a world of 6 billion + people... we don't NEED new ones. It's your right, and RESPONSIBLITY. The rest of us, with or without kids, already pay a lot in taxes for schools and more... you expect us to take complete responsiblity for your children? It's society that needs to provide a framework within a parent rasies a child, but the parent has to be there to do the actual child-rearing. All of the after-school programs and community awareness in the world is no substitute for a parent absent because of drugs, work, etc. Maybe Lee should put the money he wasted on this dead legislation on education for people who are considering having children. Educate those people a little as to what that really means, and the responsibility they take on. Parenting may be tough, but it's still not something parents get to pass off to others unless those others WANT to help. If you have to work two jobs to feed your kids... DON'T HAVE KIDS. Can't be around to make sure your kids aren't playing Manhunt while they watch Bible Black? DON'T HAVE KIDS. It's a right, not an obligation, and plenty of people who have the right don't have the ability to be good parents. The myth that having a child makes you capable of overcoming your own chilldhood to raise one, is just that... a myth.

Jason_da_psycho
Jason_da_psycho

If parents actually bother to care about their kids instead of trying to keep them off their asses by buying video games, then there is no reason for the sole existence of this law what a bunch of stupid idiots, no wonder why they have shortage of budget when they keep hiring morons similar to Jack Thompson for jobs and proposing ideas that won't work If they actually have the cash to waste, we won't give a damn, but considering the fact that Cali is broke, and a joke of an unemployment rate, as well as a bunch of homeless living on welfare, video games, which happen to play a big part in the economy, should not be their major concern spend more cash on improving the education system as well as improving the safety of the neighbourhood. It's better having kids play GTAIV than a drug dealer seling drugs to kids

SolidSmith1608
SolidSmith1608

Well I personally think that there should be law against kids buying these games...but, seriously, it wont change anything, they cant buy the games but they'll damn well play them. they'll get their perants to buy the games for them. So, although I agree with it...it is pointless.

nappan
nappan

@Head_Psychosis: There was a distinct lack of tentacles. Personally, when I like to play my assault/murder simulations we all laughingly call games... I prefer tentacles. ;) Yeah it does boggle the mind a little... almost as though someone played DoA Beach Vollyball and DeadSpace at the same time... then went home... and forget they were two seperate games. Now movies... there you see sexual assault all the time. The point here is ultimately the same as it has been with radio, tv, music, and movies: insufficient lobbying. Given that gaming is beating moviegoing right now, you'd think expect the ESA to be more effective. However, gaming companies haven't had the decaes to learn to work together to protect industry interests well enough yet. It's still a relatively young medium. Eventually however, that lobby will organize more fully, and we'll see an end to serious challenges such as this one.

raghraghragh
raghraghragh

I actually agree with him. Sort of. If someone under 17 wants to purchase a M17+ game, they should at least have the permission from of their parents. What's do wrong with that? I do, however, find it ridiculous that they're only going after games and not movies/music.

firehawk998
firehawk998

This idiot Lee looks like he has Diahorrea.

Head_Psychosis
Head_Psychosis

@nappan. Dead Space was dead sexy. Of course it's almost a hentai game! Naked necromorphs facerape you constantly. Who wouldn't get their rocks off to that? I know I do!

CptAlph
CptAlph

Just two questions in response to this latest ridiculousness: 1) Do the same penalties exist for allowing children access to movie theaters, DVDs and CDs with similar content? 2) What effect are the currently proposed cuts to K-12+ education spending (caused by the budget deficit) going to have on these same children? Puh-leaze. Why video games continue to receive this type of McCarthyist treatment is beyond me. If we survived comic books after poor William Gaines was witch hunted in the 50s before the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, I'm sure we'll survive now.

nappan
nappan

I'll ask again... in what game that you can find on store shelves... do you sexually assault ANYTHING? They make it sound like every game is a mixture of the mechanics of Dead Space, the gore of... Dead Space... and the sex of an imported EXTREME hentai game. Then the supposition is that this rape/main/murder fest will be marketed so deceptively that parents won't figure it out?! These are game developers, not some kind of mythical missionaries of perversion. Speaking of missionaries... we all know that this is a religious/Right issue being used to distract from fiscal meltdown. You can always see the difference between the rational people with a VIEW; eg. "We're worried that violent games desensitive people to violence, leading to more violence."... vs... the Jack Thompson, or "maining, dismembering, or sexually assaulting.... etc...". Please... Cops, Soldiers, and Contractors (*mercs*) are all (rightly) accepted as people who are able to seperate the reality of violence from daily life, never mind something as simple as a game... but GTA turns kids into muggers and rapists. Ooooookkkkk....

Outlaw-X13
Outlaw-X13

"includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being." Where the **** do they get they're games? Instead of making it seem criminal by using those grotesque words.. they could have boiled it down to.. Violence and Sexual Themes (Or Partial Nudity) But because they are "the law" they gotta word things differently to swing the vote of MOMS.

blarg_blarg
blarg_blarg

Sucks for you guys in Cali. I hope you guys get rid of that!

nappan
nappan

@Ian_Michael: I think the anger and frusteration from Californians such as yourself is the most poignant here. I can only imagine how angry I would be if I had a child losing a beloved teacher, or even the resources in general! With millions being spent frivolously, I think I'd go from angry to desperate. All I can say, is that I'm sorry, and even though xDarkpuppetx is right (this is pure politics), it's still terrible to see legislation FOR children at the EXPENSE of children. Arrgh! @cwalk: I wonder how many parents could have been educated about videogames for the millions spent drafting this legislation, reading it, court fees, etc. A lot I'd bet :(

xDarkpuppetx
xDarkpuppetx

This is where they cross the line... They should be killed for their ignorance. The kind of entertainment the parents want for their child is their dicission. And really... They're wasting their effing time, kids will just get an adult to pick it up. Seriously they are playing politics.

cwalk
cwalk

California has what a 10% unemployment rate, home foreclosures, billions of dollars in debt, and they're wasting money worrying over violent videogames? If parents can't figure out which games are graphically violent and sexually explicit by now, they're morons and they need to go back to school and learn how to read. California, stop spending money WE DON'T HAVE!

Ian_Michael
Ian_Michael

Sad to think that my child's kindergarten teacher will not be teaching the next school year due to these budget cuts. And here are lawmakers wasting time and money on a non-issue. There are more things at stake like jobs and resources far too many to describe that will be destroyed because of funding. As of a matter of fact I was talking with my kid's teacher about her layoff, and she mentioned that she was concerned for her students who were struggling... see these struggling kids will head off to 1st grade and their new teachers will have to start over from scratch, without any help and advice from their former teacher about what worked well in teaching these kids. This is just a small example of how this budget shortfall is affecting my community let alone our state. As a parent I really hate to see programs to help families with daycare facilities, or afterschool care be shut down. What's a struggling parent to do? Who will look after their children when they are hard at work? And on top of that how about the people what will lose their jobs? Unemployment is already rising, and it's going to jump up even higher... I do believe that somewhere around 21,000 state employees are going to get laid off. EDD is already overloaded and here come another 21,000 seeking unemployment. The way I see it is that all these heavy cuts Sacramento is talking about doing is really going to hurt us, our community even further in the long run. It's been said that children are our future, but take away all the things that can nurture them into something productive is being taken away from them. I apologize for making this a rant about the problems California is having but hearing how money is being wasted on something trivial compared to the "real" issues we are facing just upsets me. This law will never ever replace good, responsible parenting. There will still be kids who will find a way to get their hands on M-rated games, it will be impossible to stop it. Just like how there are teens who will find a way to get their hands on alcohol, heck I've been approached by some kids asking me to get them a bottle of booze before and when I said no, they started to cuss at me and berate me. Their parents failed them by not raising them responsibly.

jjwalker9600
jjwalker9600

This is such a waste of our government time and money. Government trying to take the place of parenting.

thekoolkurt
thekoolkurt

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

nappan
nappan

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

HuskyBeast
HuskyBeast

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

mr0806
mr0806

@nappan: yea i agree no child should have less opportunities and resources than other kids and every child should have the equal right to live and prosper, i think these ignorant parents should be punished (and by ignorant i am in no way trying to stab at their intelligence some of the best parents in history couldn't even read), and if you cant or don't wanna have kids do not put your self in the situation to have them, contraceptives have been around and used since ancient china... and if you are grown enough to handle the responsibilities of sex then you are grown enough to handle the responsibilities to raise a child, after all the main reason for sex is reproduction and continuing the human race, not for having fun...

nappan
nappan

@mr0806: You make a good point... I tend to think of extremes and find a balence, but you have it there. It is far worse to see kids neglected by parents who think they have everything going swimmingly. So often those are the Dylan Klebolds and Eric Harrisses of the world. People often forget how much structure... not just declared rules or (I don't believe in) spanking... you have to BE there to make it work. Parents that work 2 jobs to feed their children should be admired for their hard work, but condmened for HAVING those kids. We're not trying to recover after the bubonic plague after all, and if we can allocate more resources to fewer children (not talking for or against abortion here, but choosing in the first place) that is one way to increase quality standards.

mr0806
mr0806

@nappan and Max Payne, when i went to see that there were so many little kids in theater and if they played or the parents even looked at the game i know they wouldn't have been there. Yea not only is it abuse that effects kids but neglect, i cant even tell you how many parents neglect their kids and do not even notice, in some instances it cant be helped but when its persistent and the parents think they are doing a good job thats when its sad...

nappan
nappan

@mr0806: Weird... I was just talking to a friend about Taken, and how much PG-13 has changed since I was I a kid... and I'm 28! The torture scene alone was something children shouldn't be exposed to... however I don't think even exposure to that would damage a child who didn't have problems at home, or neurological/psychological. People forget how many people are abused, beaten, neglected, etc... That kills a child's soul (as you must know better than most) not games or even movies. However, games, movies, tv, books, etc... all of these can fill the voids left by atrophied consciences, traumatized minds, and people who are born damaged. It's sad, but true... and a far larger issue than gaming. Perhaps that's why Lee wants to focus on games and not healthcare and childcare reform? ;)

mr0806
mr0806

i have worked in the child care field in age groups going from 2 years old to middle schoolers, and i can personally say that in each group video games were not the real problem, more often then not it was the boys that were getting in trouble for using violence and they were always pretending to be a wrestler or characters from a tv show. and in the earlier years for children the amount of tv the child watched had a clear and present impact on the child's creativity and the amount of information they retained after a class. I also noticed the kids who watched the most tv were not only further behind the class developmentally but they also were more violent and got in trouble more... many of the kids talked about and played video games but they never tried to act the games out... not sure if this adds or helps any of you guys arguments and opinions but i think that if the government does anything first it should be stronger regulations for tv and movies, with movies like "Taken" being rated pg13 and shows people being shot, people have sex with drugged up girls, then you add language and real people to that. and now you have a 14 year old that can go see violence in a movie where a guys daughter is kidnapped then sold into sex slavery and that same 14 yearold cant go buy halo because it has bright multi colored blood, but hey Arnold wouldn't want to hurt his pocket would he... which do you think will cause more problems???

nappan
nappan

Ummmm.. by the way Husky.. and this has to be the oddest spelling thing I've ever seen... "it's Duh"... not "Daaaa". There's something sublime about that error! My spelling is awful, and I make plenty of typos, but how do you learn the word "duuuh" and turn that into "daaaaa". I mean... that's basic vowel sounds for you right?

nappan
nappan

@HuskyBeast: What are you talking about, "little monsters" is a common turn of phrase. By no means was I saying anything bad about your kids. I don't know you, OR your children. You did however choose to have children. Now it's your job to take care of them, and see to it they don't turn out to be muggers. If you really believe that GAMES turn people into criminals... well, I won't say anymore about that. That said, don't worry about me, the only time I've been mugged was by some hophead with a screwdriver in Philly. I broke his wrist and left, which I thought was "proportional force"; especially considering I have an LTC, which is all I'll say to that. If you were doing more than paying lipservice to this issue, and using a carrot and stick approach to getting the rest of us to take responsiblity for YOUR children... you would have read what mistblair, myself, and plenty of others have beeen saying here. Why come snarling back in here and lower the tone? You're like Dick Cheney after a good Obama speech. :) @hatieshorrer: No he doesn't. Then again, if he couldn't be bothered, or wasn't able to read the comments since he last posted, I doubt that your very reasoned plea for sanity will have much effect. Good try though.

hatieshorrer
hatieshorrer

@HuskyBeast The fact is you have no idea what your talking about. Almost all stores that sale video video games have policies against saling M-rated games to people under the age of eighteen so this law doesnt change anything. Violent behavior existed before video games and as Jack Thompson said his research shows that schools are more likely to avoid reporting violent behavior now then decades ago. Are you sure an increase in violent behavior is due to video games and not that schools are allowing children to practice violent behavior. The government will spend millions in tax dollars and you will still be calling 911 and crying to the government for not spending more money on police or public education.

HuskyBeast
HuskyBeast

@nappan I really hope you weren't saying I had little monsters cuz u don't want to go there. What I'm saying is that government has a responsibility to protect our children and everyone for that matter, not just parents. When parents don't care and government or anybody else doesn't care, you get bad people in society. When those same kids are mugging and attacking you later on, that's when you'll be calling 911 crying for the government to help you.

nappan
nappan

@mistablair: I appreciate your honesty, and agree that this is probably an issue we've both fully articulated, and won't find any more common ground on. Good debate though! I won't lie, it's been fun.

mistablair
mistablair

I didn't read through your entire post. I'm sure you had some good points. Ultimately it's just a matter of opinion. I think M rated games should not be purchased by children. I don't think smokes should be purchased by children either. I like that there are forces stopping easy access to children. Obviously you disagree and think that government intervention is bad, in many cases I agree, but not in protecting children. If a parent lets their child have the game that is one thing, but it's near impossible to monitor them if they bought it on their own. When I was 10 I was playing Diabo, my parents knew I got it and watched me play a few times. I knew to not let them see any of the nudity etc. and I could also easily Alt+Tab out of any game into another if I heard them coming. It's very easy to hide what you're doing. I'm glad there are stores like Best Buy that actually ID people. I doubt either of us are going to change our opinion on it.

nappan
nappan

@mistablair: Whoa whoa... I am NOT to the right of center... except in some military philosophies. I'm a skeptic with a fatalistic streak; I want things to work out, and in a perfect world I don't think young kids should be playing violent games. In a perfect world, parents would know that... Lawmakers are also paid to uphold the constitution of their state, and of the United States. This is a law which has been deemed unconstitutional by every court in CA, but the highest court, which is now going to hear it. Forget money, there isn't enough time, or talent to bring all of the cases that must be addressed before a magistrate, and yet this ridiculous law has been pushed this far at the taxpayer's expense! California, NY, and MA are considered bellwethers by the legal community, and therefore in my mind they have a greater responsibility to set an example for the rest of the nation. I'd rather see them continue to uphold human rights and civil liberties, than waste time adding stickers to games that only a fool would overlook. GRAND THEFT AUTO. Gears of War. Manhunt. Doom. It's not as though these companies are wrapping them in strawberry flavored shrink-wrap and calling them "Gwand Borrowing" or "The Gears go Round". No one is being deceived, as in the case of the decades of tobacco and alcohol lobbying. Any parent who cannot fulfill such a basic part of raising their child, should not have children. It may be their right, but they should choose not to exercise it in a world already choked with people. Hell mistablair, our ecology is starting to fail, Pakistan is eating itself alive, the war in Afghanistan is out of control because we had a crook in the White House who pulled another Gulf of Tonkin and changed our focus. This is not a right or left issue, this is a matter of taking basic personal responsibilities for children. The government has to regulate at the highest levels, and manage international affairs. At the state level it is more focused internally, but still, assigning the manpower and money to legislate this, or god forbid, bring it to fruition and enforce it, is laughable!. The far Right is baying for more ICE agents because they're in some kind of racist "post-Reagan" frenzy. We've dropped from 1st to 18th in international standing for high-school graduation. Our problems are not coming from our video games, movies and music, although they are often reflected there. Besides, as so many have said, these games are often purchased BY the parent. People can be stupid, ignorant, or desensitized. If you live in an environment where killings are a weeks event, assaults and muggings daily ones... etc... Maybe playing a little GTA doesn't seem quite as real as it does if you live a quiet and peaceful life? Finally... I'm far right? How much good could the money spent on this law have done elsewhere in this country, or in ANOTHER country?! If we're going to pretend that a few million dollars is of no consequence, give it away already. We're happy to let GENOCIDE occur in Rwanda, or Darfur, or to the Armenians and Jews, and so many others while we do nothing, or too little. We're the same country that's too scared to lock up some chucklehead terrorists in a SUPERMAX Federal prison.... from which no person has ever escaped. Apparently some Americans think that being a terrorist gives you superpowers, and they think that 23.5 hours a day in solitary for the rest of your life is what... like Arkham Asylum? Every week The Joker, Poison Ivy and Osama Bin Laden escape to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting public? Please. We have so many problems in the world, and in this country that I think some people find comfort in the illusion that by passing these kinds of laws we're upholding civilization. A bit like the Brits spreading Tea and Cricket with their empire. ;) My point is not a right-wing argument about fiscal conservatism and state's rights... I'm saying we have bigger unsolved, unenforced, and social issues to deal with FIRST. I don't believe I could be any clearer than that.