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Illegal California Game Law Faces Appeal Wednesday

This Wednesday, California lawmakers will attempt to resurrect the violent video game legislation that cost the state $282,000 after it was ruled unconstitutional in 2007.

Senator Leland Yee penned the law, which mandates that retailers restrict sales of violent video games to only those over the age of 18, with games that fall under the definition of "violent" forced to sport an prominent "18" sticker on their packaging.

According to the law, any game that contains "serious injury to human beings in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel" would fall under its jurisdiction.

"This is the same technology the armed forces use to help soldiers kill the enemy," Yee explained to the San Jose Mercury News. "All we're saying is, 'Don't sell it to kids.'"

In his 2007 ruling, Judge Ronald Whyte declared that the law's definition of violence was too broad, noting that it could apply to some classic literature, and questioned the tenuous link between violent video games and violent behavior. Following Whyte's decision, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed to appeal the ruling.

Various figures, such as Stephen King, have spoken out against the government's attempts to involve itself in the self-regulated video game industry. According to an FTC report, the video game industry's self-mandated ratings system is more effective than that of movies and music.

"What makes me crazy is when politicians take it upon themselves to play surrogate parents," King argued earlier this year. "The results of that are usually disastrous. Not to mention undemocratic."

"I think video game legislation has no place in America," Resistance 2 creative director and Insomniac Games president Ted Price added later.

"It saddens me to see legislators stomping all over our First Amendment rights for their own specific interests," Price continued. "So far, there have not been conclusive studies that show that games promote violent behavior any more than movies do. "

Chris Faylor was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 27, 2008 3:04 PM

    If this law is extended across all media (TVs/movies on DVD, audio CDs, even books), I would have no problem with it. There's lots of shows/movies/books that feature "serious injury to human beings in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel". As it stands though, it's singling out video games for no good reason.

    • reply
      October 27, 2008 3:07 PM

      Other than the fact that the ESA doesn't contribute heavily towards campaign funds like our good buddies in the RIAA and MPAA.

      • reply
        October 27, 2008 3:12 PM

        As I said, no GOOD reason. Besides, I don't think RIAA and MPAA see mature videogames as their opponent in the marketplace. Films that make the most money at the box office are PG-13 rated or lower.

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