Jun 24, 2011

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U.S. Supreme Court to Rule on Violent Video Game Bill Monday

U.S. Supreme Court to Rule on Violent Video Game Bill Monday

After six years arguing about the California law that would prevent the sale of “excessively” violent video games to minors, it looks like the debate might finally be coming to an end. The Supreme Court of the United States is expected to issue their ruling on Monday, June 27, which will mark a pivotal moment in not just gaming, but US history .

The Bill, authored by State Senator Leland Yee, was later passed and signed into law by former California Governor Arnold Swarchenegger back in 2005, and is intended to put a stop to the sale of “M” rated games to anyone under the age of 18. The bill would hold retailers liable to a fine of up to $1,000 per each violation if they are caught selling those games to minors.

In a statement made on the Senator’s website, he had this to say about the upcoming ruling:

“I am cautiously optimistic that the justices will help protect our children from the harmful effects of ultra-violent video games and provide parents a tool in raising healthy kids. Every major national medical association – including the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics – has concluded that exposure to violent video games causes an increase in aggressive behavior, physiological desensitization to violence, and decrease pro-social behavior and thus society has a direct, rational and compelling reason in marginally restricting a minor’s access to violent video games.”

Although I can see how violent video games could affect everyone, including children, I still don’t believe we have enough research to firmly say that violent video games have a negative effect on children. That said, I would never let my children, or any of my relatives’ kids ,play an “M” rated game, let alone play online, which way too many parents allow. I think online play can have more of a negative effect on children than simply playing through a violent campaign.

Senator Leland Yee, who has a PhD in child psychology, believes that this bill would help parents make better decisions when purchasing games for their children; the bill would also require a new, larger logo displaying the age restriction similar to that of EU box art.

“We need to help empower parents with the ultimate decision over whether or not their children play in a world of violence and murder,” said Yee.

The video game industry has come together to argue that violent games do not cause children to become violent, and there are no negative effects from playing violent games. They’ve also argued that the bill is a violation of free speech, since video games are a form of art.

Personally, I would like to see more attention being brought to “M” rated games, whether it is retailers warning parents about the game including online play, or whether it is simply another sticker on the front of the game. But to be honest, switching to using the movie ratings for games would make all of this much easier. Parents know those ratings, and if they see “Rated R” on a game box, they’ll know what it means right away.

I’m sure we’ll hear from the Senator and from the ESA on Monday once the ruling is official. Eleven other states (Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia) will also be watching the ruling very closely.  Vivid Gamer will report on the Court’s decision as soon as their ruling is made public.