The Supreme Court met November 2nd to discuss First Amendment protection and review of laws for video games sales in California. There was a clear divide with certain members adamant that the children of today need better protection with others arguing that there are far worse behavioral influences in today’s society. For some this is an open and shut case but with Americans spending upwards of $10 billion a year on video games, any decision that would restrict the release or sales of video games could severely damage the industry.
Will the Argument Ever End?
It's an age old argument: can watching violence in video games effect your behavior to the point where you act out that violence? I've been playing video games for over 15 years, from delightful family favorites like Mario to the horrors of Manhunt, and I have yet to slice my sister’s head off with a cheese wire nor do I have any desire to smash my partners face in with a sledge hammer. Sadly, there are some people that seem to be affected by the violence they're exposed to playing those types of video games. One of the most memorable cases was in England in July of 2004, when a 14 year old was brutally attacked and killed with a hammer by somebody whom the parents claimed to be influenced by Manhunt.
A number of UK stores stopped selling the game the following day, but the response from a spokesman of company behind Manhunt, Rockstar Games, made it clear they weren't willing to take any responsibility:
"We reject any suggestion or association between the tragic events and the sale of the video game Manhunt. The game in question is classified 18 by the British Board of Film Classification and therefore should not be in the possession of a juvenile. Simply being in someone's possession does not and should not lead to the conclusion that a game is responsible for these tragic events."
It is events like this that encouraged the Supreme Court to tackle the issue, with more and more cases each year we should expect some kind of drastic change within the next few years. The main catalyst was back in 2005 when a California law banned anyone under the age of 18 from purchasing video games that may create "a deviant or morbid interest in minors". Lower courts removed the law with the aim of only restricting sales to those that involve obscene sexual content. In this latest meeting in the Supreme Court, they are hoping to have the law reinstated for California.
Let the Ratings System Do Its Job
Games are classified for a reason, if the game has an 18 certificate, why would parents allow those under that age to play them anyway? Would they let they're 12 year old go out for a night on the town? I think parents are out of touch with today’s gaming industry and have no idea what they're exposing their children to. I will never agree that violence in video games is a direct cause for violence in reality but I do question the parents that allow young children to play such violent titles, if they're willing to do that there's no saying what other areas of parenting they have strange views in.
What are your thoughts on laws for violent video games? Do you believe the current classification system does the industry justice?
I'll leave you with my personal favorite quote from Justice Kagan:
"Mortal Kombat is an iconic game which I am sure half of the clerks who work for us spent considerable amounts of time in their adolescence playing."
Article by - Blaine Smith