Jun 27, 2011

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Senator Leland Yee Responds to Supreme Court Ruling

Senator Leland Yee Responds to Supreme Court Ruling

Today the Supreme Court of the United States struck down California’s law which would fine retailers for selling violent games to minors. In a 7-2 vote the Supreme Court ruled the Bill unconstitutional and in violation of the First Amendment. Senator Leland Yee issued a statement responding to the ruling saying the Supreme Court put the interests of corporate America before the interests of our children.

“Unfortunately, the majority of the Supreme Court once again put the interests of corporate America before the interests of our children,” said the law’s author, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco). “As a result of their decision, Wal-Mart and the video game industry will continue to make billions of dollars at the expense of our kids’ mental health and the safety of our community. It is simply wrong that the video game industry can be allowed to put their profit margins over the rights of parents and the well-being of children.”

Yee is obviously of the opinion that the video game industry knows how many minors play M Rated games and he feels they aren’t doing enough to prevent it. While I agree to some extent that the video game industry doesn’t try to do more to prevent the sale of M Rated games to minors (because they are a big portion of their sales) I am still uncertain as to what kind of effect these games have on children and that’s part of the reason the Bill was stuck down.

Senator Leland Yee did praise Justice Breyer who supported the bill.

“Applying traditional First Amendment analysis, I would uphold the statute as constitutional on its face and would consequently reject the industries’ facial challenge,” wrote Breyer. “California’s law imposes no more than a modest restriction on expression. The statute prevents no one from playing a video game, it prevents no adult from buying a video game, and it prevents no child or adolescent from obtaining a provided a parent is willing to help. All it prevents is a child or adolescent from buying, without a parent’s assistance, a gruesomely violent video game of a kind that the industry itself tells us it wants to keep out of the hands of those under the age of 17.”

During this entire process we’ve seen some changes from the ESRB and Yee claims credit for this as his legislation brought more attention to the sale of M Rated games to minors.

“I am certain that this eight year legislative and legal battle has raised the consciousness of this issue for many parents and grandparents, and has forced the video game industry to do a better job at appropriately rating these games,” said Senator Yee.

I personally have seen the change in how some retailers self-regulate. In the past I would see EB Games or GameStop employees regularly sell M Rated games to minors or parents looking to buy those titles for their kids. Today I will occasionally see this but more employees will no longer sell M Rated games to minors and will even take the time to educate the parents about certain games. Best Buy now cards anyone who looks under 18, including myself (I’m 28) when purchasing M Rated games but again not every employee does that. The biggest violation of this is definitely with bigger titles such as Halo, GTA or COD. Employees would rather sell these games to the millions of parents rather than telling them why kids shouldn’t play the game. I’m not talking about just the single player but the online multiplayer; I believe that is where the true issue with M Rated is. Anyone who plays online certainly knows what I’m talking about.

As for now, the gaming industry can celebrate their victory and hopefully we won’t hear about again for a long time or maybe now we can get Adult Only rated games that are ultra violent….probably not. You can read the Senator’s entire press release here.

[Source: http://dist08.casen.govoffice.com]