US Supreme Court strikes down violent video game law

By on June 27, 2011, 1:00 PM

The US Supreme Court today sided with the video game industry, in the six-year legal match with California lawmakers who wanted to make it a crime for anyone in the state to sell violent games to kids. In a 7-2 ruling, Justice Antonin Scalia said the law does not comport with the First Amendment.

Others joined in dissent as the court found no compelling evidence to state that video games are more damaging to children than other forms of media, such as film or music. This is a huge step for video games, as it should stop the spread of expensive legislation hurting the industry.

California's argument was that because video games are interactive, they are more problematic because the player participates in the violent action on screen and determines its outcome. The Supreme Court was not persuaded. Here's what the official decision stated (PDF):

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.

It also went on to say that psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively. In fact, the demonstrated effects were found to be both small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media.

Previous state laws that have tried to enact similar bans on violent video games have been struck down as unconstitutional. California's law aimed to control the sale of "deviant violence" games to children, but could not properly define what deviant violence meant exactly.

In other words, the Supreme Court has once again declared that it is the responsibility of a child's parents to make sure they act responsibly (in this case, non-violently) in society. I have to say that I completely agree with this decision.




User Comments: 29

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TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Was a ridiculous law to begin with - that's California for ya. Can't believe we had to waste out Supreme Court's time on this nonsense.

Here's a novel idea: how about we let the parent's do the parenting instead of the government?

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"the Supreme Court has once again declared that it is the responsibility of a child's parents to make sure they act responsibly (in this case, non-violently) in society"

This couldn't be more true. Quit your moaning and take care of your rotten kids people!

Muggs said:

I have watched these societal people blame everything I have ever liked in my life as something that causes you to be evil. Yet I still manage to be a productive member of society who listened to "bad music", "played D&D", "active gamer" etc etc. and I have never felt the need to kill anyone.

Walking test case here.

stewi0001 stewi0001 said:

No we want BIG BROTHER to take care of everyone o.O

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

"the Supreme Court has once again declared that it is the responsibility of a child's parents to make sure they act responsibly (in this case, non-violently) in society"

This couldn't be more true. Quit your moaning and take care of your rotten kids people!

I think even most parents feel this way. This is merely happening for political positioning.

CHISEL954 said:

so true, kids-people that act out in violence had a seed planted from birth or grew from lifestyle of abuse / bad parenting etc..., not watching the Terminator or playing GTA then saying i feel like stealing a police car to run over some prostitutes today! People need to stop blaming everyone-thing else and look at themselves. Imagine if this law passed, we would be stuck watching shows like the Brady Bunch & playing Frogger all day. (Oh Frogger gets hit by cars so maybe not)

CHISEL954 said:

BTW: i'm 36 yrs old

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

People who blame video games for violent acts among kids are frankly, morons. 97% of the time their dysfunctional behavior is a result of bad parenting, the other 3% of the time you're dealing with a legitimate socio/psychopath.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

CHISEL954 said:

not watching the Terminator or playing GTA then saying i feel like stealing a police car to run over some prostitutes today!

I have to admit, having gone on a pretty big GTA IV bender in the past few days, the next time I left the house, when I saw a guy on a motorcycle, a thought did pass through my mind to run up to him, punch him in the face, and drive off on the bike. Good for him there were 4 cop cars driving down the street.

Guest said:

california is the most retarded state in the whole US,

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

So does this mean they will finally be able to come out with Adult rated games? you know.. games with nudity or pornographic games? These would be a big hit, I'm sure. Expecially with the online experience you could have nowadays... brings a new meaning to a one night stand...

California may be the most retarded state... but if liking the most retarded state is wrong, then hey I dont want to be right.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Guest said:

california is the most retarded state in the whole US,

I believe Mississippi has that honor. At least according to the people in Alabama.

MilwaukeeMike said:

LNCPapa said:

This is merely happening for political positioning.

I would agree. Expect a campaign commercial at some point in the future to say so-and-so candidate doesn't 'protect the children' and to quote this decision.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

california is the most retarded state in the whole US,
I believe Mississippi has that honor. At least according to the people in Alabama.

And yet still others claim it is West Virginia. There they blame the retardation on inbreeding among the mountain folk. You know how people like to talk.

People who blame video games for violent acts among kids are frankly, morons. 97% of the time their dysfunctional behavior is a result of bad parenting, the other 3% of the time you're dealing with a legitimate socio/psychopath.

Unless you're going to come down on "nature" as the bringer of true sociopathy, then you could probably blame the parents for that also. And yeah, I think sociopaths are reared, not born.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

captaincranky said:

And yet still others claim it is West Virginia. There they blame the retardation on inbreeding among the mountain folk. You know how people like to talk.

That's what my college buddy from Virginia said. When called on his "stateism", he replied that people from Virginia have a right to make fun of West Virginians. Beef probably goes back to the War of Northern Aggression.

Cota Cota said:

CHISEL954 said:

so true, kids-people that act out in violence had a seed planted from birth or grew from lifestyle of abuse / bad parenting etc..., not watching the Terminator or playing GTA then saying i feel like stealing a police car to run over some prostitutes today! People need to stop blaming everyone-thing else and look at themselves. Imagine if this law passed, we would be stuck watching shows like the Brady Bunch & playing Frogger all day. (Oh Frogger gets hit by cars so maybe not)

So true, i have take care of my 11 yo bro since he was 8 1/2 and i always let him play violent video games (of course i play them 1st to see if they have inappropriate content for those games that i dont know their game "style" and so far he doesnt have any violent behavior, more far he is more calm than most of his "flash game" player friends (*cough* farm ville).

Its just a matter of fail parenting, kids now yell to their parent to get what they want, break things or even worse they dont seem to understand what id bad or good.

Oh and for those school shootings that blame video games... well they where bullied and decided to take justice in their own hands since the mouth breathing authorities dont seem to understand bulling is the real source.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

Video games are like anything else..if you show it as taboo, people want it more. Same thing with Catholic priests. If the church would let them marry or at least get a piece of tail now and then, you would see a significant drop in priests that are pedophiles.

Playing a violent video game is no more damaging than taking your kids to a movie that has violence. Parents just need to do their jobs and explain why violence is wrong fi the kid doesn't quite grasp the concept.

treetops treetops said:

Every time theres a slow news day violent video games effect on children gets brought up. Some housewives get to clucking, it goes to court where facts are looked at and the clucking sheeps crusade inspired by a slow news day is cast down.

Guest said:

Why don't they make educational video games?

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

darkshadoe said:

Same thing with Catholic priests. If the church would let them marry or at least get a piece of tail now and then, you would see a significant drop in priests that are pedophiles.

That is a serious contender for stupidest statement of the year. Pedophiles are pedophiles.

Not getting pussy does not lead you to go after little boys. I'm sure you've gone through a dry spell like all of us have at one point or another. Did you feel the temptation to go abuse little boys?

The Catholic church made some horrible mistakes in not dealing with the problem when it arose, and they rightfully are called on it, but to equate sexual abuse with celibacy is an idiotic conclusion.

How do you explain the majority of child molestation, which has nothing to do with priests, by men (and women) who have the freedom to have sex with any other consenting person that they want. It's a mental illness, usually brought about by being a victim of similar abuse when you're young.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Why don't they make educational video games?

They do, nobody buys them, and they wind up in the five dollar and under bin.

That is a serious contender for stupidest statement of the year. Pedophiles are pedophiles.
Not to mention that homosexual pedophiles are homosexual pedophiles, I mean little girls go to church too, don't they? Priests seem to avoid them like the plague

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

captaincranky said:

That is a serious contender for stupidest statement of the year. Pedophiles are pedophiles.
Not to mention that homosexual pedophiles are homosexual pedophiles, I mean little girls go to church too, don't they? Priests seem to avoid them like the plague

From what I understand, its not homosexuality. Most male abusers of boys would probably identify themselves as heterosexual. I think it has to do with 'recreating' the same experience you went through. It's really quite sad, truly a vicious cycle that repeats itself.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

From what I understand, its not homosexuality. Most male abusers of boys would probably identify themselves as heterosexual. I think it has to do with 'recreating' the same experience you went through. It's really quite sad, truly a vicious cycle that repeats itself.
I think that probably the last source I would consider credible about the sexual orientation of abusers, is the abusers themselves.

As far as a "cycle of abuse" theory, that has comic ring to it, as were we to reference that to the Catholic Church's issues on abuse, then we might speculate that the continual reiteration of abuse, could possibly extend back a couple of thousand years.

So, I'll just paraphrase Mick Jagger's, "Sympathy for the Devil"......"Just as every priest was an altar boy, and all the queens are straight".......

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

^^^^^^shot !

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

*Gasp* The Constitution DOES exist!

CHISEL954 said:

yes! everyone should know it to heart, b/c it gives us are right to talk/argue about this.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Looks like they finally got one right after several awful decisions this year. Then again the Supreme Court is pretty consistent when it comes to the First Amendment.

aj_the_kidd said:

"California lawmakers who wanted to make it a crime for anyone in the state to sell violent games to kids"

Don't games have a rating, which means if a kid wanted to buy a mature game, they wouldn't be able to buy it anyway, which makes this lawsuit pointless or did I miss something?

slamscaper slamscaper said:

"California lawmakers who wanted to make it a crime for anyone in the state to sell violent games to kids"

Don't games have a rating, which means if a kid wanted to buy a mature game, they wouldn't be able to buy it anyway, which makes this lawsuit pointless or did I miss something?

While there is standard rating (ESRB) system in effect, it is not enforced. California was attempting to enforce it via state law. This means retailers could face jail time if they ignored the ratings and sold "mature rated" games to minors.

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