Once every so often, humanity is challenged in such a way that the preservation of society and societal progression become at stake. There was once a man with a little moustache who wanted to rule the world once, and make everyone alike him. Brainwashed, a master race of full perfect – all speaking the same language. There was the Cold War, in which two giant political behemoths struggled into a stalemate for twenty years, all the while inching towards complete nuclear disaster. Today, we are about to face the biggest threat to our species since… possibly ever. Today marks the beginning of either our slide into total dystopia or an elevation into new heights of expression.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about:
In 2005, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill No. 1179 into law. The bill would have restricted the sale of “violent video games” to anyone under the age of 18 and fined violators up to $1,000. In 2007, the United States District Court in California struck down the law on the grounds that video games are protected by the First Amendment and that there is no evidence linking violent video games to real world violence.
Last year, the ruling was upheld by the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals. Judge Consuelo M. Callahan stated that there was no “substantial evidence that supports the Legislature’s conclusion that violent video games cause psychological or neurological harm to minors”. Judge Callahan elaborated that the ESRB rating system, already in place, is a less-restrictive way to make sure gamers are playing age-appropriate content.
On April 26, 2010 the US Supreme Court announced that it would hear arguments in the appeal of the Ninth Circuit’s decision.
Condensed into video form:
Today is when an age old actor will wage war with words with the biggest entertainment property on the planet. If this bill is passed, and all the similar dead bills rise from the grave and infect America; it marks the beginning of the end. People seem to not understand when it comes to this. This law, if passed, will mean that it will be illegal to sell super-duper-violent video-games to children; essentially it means that the gaming industry will be regulated by the government. This means BioShock is at threat, this means Call of Duty is at threat – all of these titles will either have to censor down to a marketable teen market or risk being placed in the ‘risqué’ section of game stores state-wide, and then nation-wide… and then perhaps world-wide.
There is nothing absolutely wrong with protecting minors from sensitive materials, there is nothing wrong with wanting adults to play adult games and kids to play kids games. At the very crux of all of this argument, at the very reasoning behind supporting this bill is one of the biggest group of goofballs. Parents. There are big giant “18+” “M for Mature” and a whole host of other ratings that are displayed perfectly on top of the boxart. I think when the government has to intervene in this, they have to realize that banning this expression outright may completely harm it… which it potentially will. When something like this happens you have to understand that a lot of parents just aren’t well read on the whole ‘game ratings’ thing, which is silly because we’ve all been watching films for so long. You’d be surprised how many adults I’ve surprised when I mention the fact that games do actually have a ratings system in place.
If we lose this case, perhaps it won’t matter. Perhaps we’re all overreacting and it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. I have to emphasize this is the Supreme Court of the United States… if they rule that video-games aren’t protected under the first amendment then that practically denies them all artistic, scientific and expressive rights. Today is important not for video-games, but for the sake of all that is free. I am willing to bet if this law passes through, many others will spring to life alike it based around regulating films, television and the like. All of the major entertainment companies have understood this and are now rallying straight behind video-games, pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into our great big chestnut of a fight.
If free speech dies today, it perhaps means the beginning of Orwellian lifestyle. If so, let’s go down with a gosh darn fight.
Follow the http://videogamevoters.org for updates on the case
Keep an eye on this Kotaku tag for in the now news http://kotaku.com/tag/schwarzeneggervs/
Have a fun election day.