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Supreme Court to hear gaming case Nov. 2

Oral arguments in dispute over California law banning sales of violent games to minors finally ready to proceed.


Written arguments in the Supreme Court battle over gaming legislation have already been made. Now it's time for the Entertainment Software Association and the state of California to plead their cases directly to the justices. California state senator Leland Yee--who wrote the law at the heart of the dispute--today said he would be in attendance on November 2 at 10 a.m., when the US Attorney General's office is scheduled to make its case before the court in Washington, DC.

Not pictured: David Robinson's Supreme Court for the Sega Genesis.
Not pictured: David Robinson's Supreme Court for the Sega Genesis.

Signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005 but challenged in court before it could take effect, California Assembly Bill 1179 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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