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Supreme Court rules video games qualify for First Amendment protection

by Andrew Yoon, Jun 27, 2011 7:45am PDT

As expected, the Supreme Court has come to a decision in a case that would ultimately determine if video games can qualify for First Amendment protection. The answer was overwhelming a "yes," as the court ruled in favor of the games industry 7-2. The full decision summarizes it quite clearly:

Video games qualify for First Amendment protection. Like protected books, plays, and movies, they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium. And “the basic principles of freedom of speech... do not vary” with a new and different communication medium.

The ruling should come as unsurprising, given the Court's opinion during the original case. In November, Justice Ginsberg questioned the legality of California's attempt to restrict the sale of video games to minors: "if you are supposing a category of violent materials dangerous to children, then how do you cut it off at video games? What about films? What about comic books? Grimm's fairy tales? Why are video games special? Or does your principle extend to all deviant, violent material in whatever form?"

One of the bill's original proponents, then-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said that the proposed bill would "ensure that parents are involved in determining which video games are appropriate for their children." Hopefully, supporters of California's effort to ban violent video games will see that today's ruling doesn't stop that effort. Even with violent video games on store shelves, you can always choose not to buy them for your children.




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