California paying $950,000 for failed Supreme Court fight

State agrees to reimburse Entertainment Software Association for fees incurred during violent game bill battle; some portion to be donated to after-school programs.

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It wasn't enough that California lost its bid to slap restrictions on the sale of violent games to minors; now the cash-strapped state is forced to pay nearly $1 million for its failed law.

Today, the Entertainment Software Association announced that the state of California has agreed to pay the trade group $950,000 in legal fees to reimburse the trade group's costs incurred during the Supreme Court proceedings.

For that much money, California could have become a dues-paying member of the ESA instead.

California's debt to the ESA is lower than what the trade group originally sought. In July, the ESA announced it was hoping to be paid $1.1 million from the state.

Previously, the ESA was paid $280,000 by California in 2008 from lower court legal fees. Further, the ESA said it has received $1,773,000 from other states--including Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota--who sought to "unconstitutionally regulate video games."

The ESA will donate an unspecified portion of the proceeds to create after-school programs for "underserved" California communities in Oakland and Sacramento. According to the ESA, its new charitable education endeavor will be launched in spring 2012. The ESA says it will "harness young peoples' natural passion for playing video games and connect them to development of critical 21st century job skills."

Drafted by State Senator Leland Yee and signed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005, the law would have criminalized the sale of violent games to minors. It also would have required a 2-inch-by-2-inch sticker with a solid white "18" outlined in black to appear on the front cover of such games.

"Senator Yee and Governor Schwarzenegger wasted more than $1 million in taxpayer funds at a time when Californians could ill afford it," said ESA president and CEO Michael D. Gallagher.

For more on the overturned law, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

Discussion

44 comments
ptown58
ptown58

Glad to hear this worked out well, now get rid of the guy who started all this.

theKSMM
theKSMM

If people had a better idea of what these ideological battles really cost in the long run, they would probably be less enthusiastic about having their elected officials pursuing them.

csward
csward

Ah, and this is why I will never live in California. I can't figure out why people out there want to be regulated on every little thing. I'll endure the cold winters and general lack to things to do to avoid this state.

gameconsolewads
gameconsolewads

Perhaps its time for the ESA to go! Be Dissolved! Taxpayers are hurting enough as it is over stupid greed and nonsense like this...I say they should be dissolved.

airshocker
airshocker

Owned. Maybe that will teach states to respect freedom.

Spacerac
Spacerac

Truthfully, the US needed this important precedent to be set in the Supreme Court-that games have the same speech protection rights as other existing media. It just sucks that it's not those politicians paying for this. It seems to me that with California being as broke as it is, that they would've had more important things to worry about then trying to censor video games "for the children." It also has to be noted that the ESA asked us to back them up in this, but the ESA initially turned their back on us with the SOPA mess. They no longer support it, but they should've fought as hard against SOPA as they did against this law.

DrKill09
DrKill09

California obviously does not understand how things work. Let the ESA lose money. If you bail them out, they will never learn. The losing baseball team should not get ice cream. They're losers. :roll:

cheater87
cheater87

@ HollowNinja If this passed stores would have been scared to sell ANY violent game because there is NO saying of what type of violence is for 18 and up. Since stores wouldn't sell any violent games companies would tone their game down and games would be censored Germany/Australia style. Also with no first amendment protection games could be outlawed for everyone. Your state could make the sale/buying/possession of a violent game a federal offense like drugs.

monson21502
monson21502

coulda been money used to get rid of the gangs

g1rldraco7
g1rldraco7

I can hear the money go down the drain as we speak. Blinded and one=sided fools always cause these things.

toddx77
toddx77

Can't believe the state wasted our money on something so stupid. We didn't need any law trying to try and stop kids from buying M games. If any parent complained the M game they bought for their child had violence, nudity, or foul language in it then they should have simply lost custody of their child for being such an irresponsible parent. I mean if you bought a playboy for your child and complained about it having adult content in it even though there is a "not for children adults only" thing on the magazine why should a video game be treated any different?

Dimebag_Darrell
Dimebag_Darrell

V_V Another million dollars our state can't afford. FFS...

mos2000
mos2000

2011 2012 will go down as the years that the lunatic fringe against cyber/gaming nerds like us got a vanglorious backhand

Zloth2
Zloth2

@Ringx55, the biggest problem I had with the bill was what counted as 'violent.' Even causing a character 'mental stress' would count as violence so even games like the Sims (where you can wall off the bathroom or make it impossible for a character to sleep) would count as a violent video game. It didn't define what counted as "human", either. Is a werewolf human? California's lawyer said Spock isn't human so you could hurt him as much as you wanted in a video game. It was a mess, invented simply so Lee could go out and tell ignorant parents that he's "defending their children." I'm sure he knew very well that the law was unconstitutional.

chibi-acer
chibi-acer

That money is just ESA's reimbursement. It doesn't even include California's own legal fees and wasted lobbying efforts.

Yomigaeru
Yomigaeru

It's a shame that the California taxpayers have to foot the bill for a fool's agenda. If the current system isn't working, as they tried to claim, criminalizing the sales and slapping a larger sticker of the package isn't much of a solution. If the parent's don't understand how the rating system works, then they need education, not government regulation. The ESA can make any claims they want about wanting to help "underserved" youth get into the industry, but we all know that they were backing that draconian bill known as SOPA, and the only reason they don't any longer is because the bill is essentially dead on the floor (for now). They're no champions...they are simply the proverbial rats fleeing the sinking ship. My parents never needed the ESRB, because they were INTELLIGENT enough to examine the content of a game firsthand and know that I could handle it. Now that I'm an adult myself, I assume I'll be able to make the same call with my own hypothetical children.

msfan1289
msfan1289

yup... that more to add to the debit, thanks you stupid moron CA assembly.

AuronAXE
AuronAXE

By today we have enough proof that video games won't harm you. Enough anti-gaming fights.

TheBlackEclipse
TheBlackEclipse

It's almost as if the senator and governor had never considered what would have happened if they had lost in court... Idiots. Of course you have to pay for wasting the time and money of others.

hunter8man
hunter8man

Bad economic times and a cash-strapped state. I hope Yee loses his seat in the Senate for this at the very least.

91210user
91210user

There's something I hate about California and this is one of them. Serves you right considering that the Major made alot of violent films of this time!

Halloll
Halloll

wish if they made the settlement by making a joint developed Schwarzenegger game.

Philly1UPer
Philly1UPer

@mjc0961 ESA doesn't support SOPA/PIPA anymore.

Ringx55
Ringx55

"The law would have criminalized the sale of violent games to minors." I still don't see what's wrong with this. It's the norm in Canada at least and nobody has any issues (Can always get parents to buy them).

EvilTyger
EvilTyger

ESA does not support SOPA/PIPA anymore.

nurnberg
nurnberg

Lol, isn't the state of California already bankrupt? Way to go, tax-payers!

Triton
Triton

No biggy just our tax dollars, I'll try to work more hours to help foot the bill... kids need moms and dads to regulate what their kids are playing, not government.

visionedorange
visionedorange

stupid stupid stupid why bother implementing so a ridiculous plan in the first place? its like illegalizing weed, no matter how many laws against it people will get it anyways, just another example of the US government overreacting and attempting to control the population way more than it should

TenraiSenshi
TenraiSenshi

What came first? The violent person or the violent game? I think we all know the answer to that question, and it's the violent person for sure. It's funny how some people would try to have you believe it's the other way around though. The bottom line is this; games don't make people violent. I play lots of different kinds of games, including, but not limited to, violent games such as God of War, Dead Space, etc. Yet, I have never once raised my hand against another human being, nor have I ever intentionally hurt someone. If the violence is there in someone, it is because it is simply an inherent part of some people's natures. Jack the Ripper wasn't born in the age of video games. Neither was Hitler or Ivan the Terrible, or the Romans, etc. People are just violent because they choose to be. There are no secret ingredients. Why is that so hard to understand? However, I do believe that age restrictions are necessary more to prevent younger children from playing games that are disturbing, profane or scary, because it can cause a lot of other problems for them. The difference between children and adults is that children don't think as rationally, and they often try to enact what they see in movies or games or they take what they see to heart and believe it (for example, a scary game may keep them up all night because they're afraid that something will try to harm them). That's another matter altogether though and I think that also mostly comes down to responsible parenting.

paladin125
paladin125

pshh whats another million or two

sirkibble2
sirkibble2

I find it hysterical that enforcing the ESRB ratings is considered unjust. We might as well take away the ESRB ratings or at least take the age limits off of them.

Granpire
Granpire

Of course the ESA would twist this to look like the good guys... People don't realize this is not about free speech, this is about keeping kids from playing violent games that they won't understand, and could damage them. Of course the parents should do this themselves but sometimes they can be stupid. In the end, the ESA only cares about money, and they got that. Games can still be sold to minors and parents don't know any better. The only real solution to this is education.

hyksiu
hyksiu

Good.I like the outcome of this. Now they'll stop making needless lawsuits.

redskinStu
redskinStu

Might explain why the CA budget situation is what it is.

HollowNinja
HollowNinja

I honestly think it might have been good if the law had passed. Before you say anything, keep in mind that the law was only aiming to regulate the sale of violent games to minors. It would not have censored anything, and it would not have affected sales of these games to adults. Also, ESA supported the SOPA/PIPA. I don't like to see them win on this, especially now that SOPA/PIPA's provisions have been enacted under the name of ACTA anyway (which is worse).

sonicare
sonicare

The ESA says it will "harness young peoples' natural passion for playing video games and connect them to development of critical 21st century job skills." LOL.

Barighm
Barighm

Considering most parents say they don't even understand the current age rating system, I doubt a big "18" sticker would help. Chances are they will think that's the price or something.

Darth_Tyrranus
Darth_Tyrranus

Great that there are consequences for enacting unjust laws. Unfortunate that the ESA is the recipient of the money.