11 states side with California in violent gaming case

Supreme Court receives submissions from Golden State supporters in defense of prohibiting violent game sales to minors.


The state of California is arguing before the Supreme Court to save its bill banning the sale of violent games to minors. It's a fight against the Entertainment Software Association that has dragged on since 2005, but it's one the state will not be fighting alone.

State Senator Leland Yee
State Senator Leland Yee

As the bill's author, California state Senator Leland Yee today announced 11 states filing "friend of the court" amicus briefs in support of his legislation. The states going on the record in support of the law include Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia. Some of those states--notably Illinois, Louisiana, and Michigan--have tried to pass their own laws restricting violent game sales in recent years, though none of their efforts have survived judicial review.

Yee filed his own amicus brief in the case along with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the California Psychological Association. That 41-page brief included a statement endorsed by about 100 scholars, researchers, and professionals who are convinced that "scientific research on violent video games clearly shows that such games are causally related to later aggressive behavior in children and adolescents."

Signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005 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.

In 2007, a circuit court judge struck down the law as unconstitutional but admitted he was "sympathetic to what the legislature sought to do." Last year, 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.

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