California appeals game law, ESA demands reimbursement

Schwarzenegger files appeal to resurrect Yee-penned game-restriction law; game-industry lobby wants state to pay it $320,000 in legal fees.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger made millions starring in some of the 1980s' and 1990s' most violent films. Whether it was gunning down unarmed housewives in The Terminator, skewering Martian spies in Total Recall, or taking out an entire armed compound with the contents of a tool shed in Commando, it seemed no act of brutality was beyond the muscular action-movie icon.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

However, this week Schwarzenegger gave the following statement to the Reuters news service: "We have a responsibility to our kids and our communities to protect against the effects of games that depict ultraviolent actions." But instead of a mea culpa for his celluloid résumé, the call to action was against another form of media: games.

"Many studies show the link between playing ultraviolent video games and violent behavior," he said. "We protect our children from buying inappropriate movies and ought to be able to protect them from buying inappropriate video games as well." Schwarzenegger himself has starred in several games, including Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Schwarzenegger's comments accompanied an appeal his administration submitted to reverse a judge's decision to strike down a California law criminalizing the sale of M-for-Mature games to minors. Penned by California State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), the law had been suspended under an injunction granted in December 2005, just one month after Schwarzenegger signed it.

While beneficial for California game retailers, the bill's near-two-years in legal limbo didn't come cheap. The Entertainment Software Association, the nation's primary game-industry lobby, is claiming that the State of California owes it over $320,000 in legal fees. The ESA filed a motion seeking the financial recompense with Northern District of California judge Ronald Whyte, the same judge who struck down the law on first-amendment grounds in August.

"From early on, the industry warned Governor Schwarzenegger and Senator Yee that this bill was unconstitutional and would be thrown out by the courts, and that California taxpayers would pay the cost," said ESA president Michael Gallagher in a statement. "California citizens should be outraged at their elected leaders. Hard-earned tax dollars were spent on defending this law that California's state leaders knew was unconstitutional."

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