The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) filed suit yesterday to overturn a law restricting California minors' access to violent games, and today state politicians came to the law's defense. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the defendants named in the suit, issued a statement to put the ESA on notice that he wouldn't let the law go down without a fight.
"I will do everything in my power to preserve this new law and I urge the Attorney General to mount a vigorous defense of California's ability to prevent the sale of these games to children," Schwarzenegger said.
Under the new law (which goes into effect January 1, 2006), retailers that sell violent games to minors would be subject to a $1,000 fine. It will also require violent video games to bear a 2-inch-by-2-inch sticker with a "solid white '18' outlined in black" on their front covers.
California Assemblyman Leland Yee, the original drafter of the law, noted that the law was drafted "with the help of constitutional experts" to withstand the ESA's challenge, and chastised the organization for suing in the first place.
"The $31 billion video game industry is not concerned with the health and welfare of our children; they are simply concerned with their own financial interests," said Yee.
Both camps claim to have judicial history on their side. The ESA cites similar legislation that has been declared unconstitutional in other parts of the country, while Yee's statement today referenced Roper v. Simmons, a child death penalty case earlier this year in which the Supreme Court ruled that children are different in the eyes of the law due to brain development. Yee went on to place the gaming industry in less-than-savory company.
"History has proven in cases of child labor and physical assault on children that we can and should pass laws to protect them," Yee said. "I am a strong believer in the First Amendment and in free speech, but when a game allows a player to virtually commit sexual assault and murder, as a society we must do what we can to protect our children, as we do for alcohol, tobacco, and pornography, among other items."