The U.S. Supreme Court ruled recently that the government doesn’t have the authority to “restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed.” That was a blow to those seeking to ban the sale or rental of violent video games to children. As expected, Gamemakers celebrated the High Court’s decision, with Grapevine-based GameStop, the world’s largest video game retailer, leading the parade. The High Court voted 7-2 to reject California’s 2005 law covering games sold or rented to those under 18, calling it an unconstitutional violation of free-speech rights. Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said: “Even where the protection of children is the object, the constitutional limits on governmental action apply.”
Justices Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas dissented from the decision, Justice Breyer said it makes no sense to legally block children’s access to pornography, yet allow them to buy or rent brutally violent video games. I certainly agree with that statement and I believe a vast majority of the American people do, too. More than 46 million American households have at least one video game system, and the industry brought in at least $18 billion last year. The industry has set up its own rating system using the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, similar to the one used by movie studios and theaters. ESRB assigns one of eight ratings, then blocks the sale to children of games rated M for “mature” and AO for “adults only.”
The California law, which never went into effect, would have prohibited anyone under 18 from buying or renting games that give players the option of “killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being.” Retailers who sold those games directly to minors would have faced fines of up to $1,000 for each game. GameStop, the leading retailer in ESRB ratings compliance, had to be very happy with the High Court’s ruling. GameStop operates 6,670 stores in about 20 countries.
Source: Star Telegram
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