The wheels of justice turn slowly. It's been more than three years since California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law AB1179, a bill restricting the sale or rental of violent games to minors. Despite that span of time, the state's fight with the industry trade group Entertainment Software Association over the bill continues.
While a judge declared the law unconstitutional in 2007, and just last August the state paid the ESA more than $280,000 for legal fees accrued in the initial court case, AB1179 still isn't quite dead. When the law was initially overturned, California appealed the ruling the following month. That appeal is finally ready to be heard as the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will consider the matter at the McGeorge School of Law this Wednesday, October 29.
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. It would also require "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 over twice the size of the labels that currently adorn game-box covers and display the familiar Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) rating.
The bill's original author, California Senator Leland Yee, continues to stand behind the measure. Yee released a statement today saying the bill was narrowly tailored to pass Constitutional muster, adding, "I am hopeful that the 9th Circuit will overturn the lower courts decision and help empower parents with the ultimate decision over whether or not their children play in a world of violence and murder."