Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Video Games

After six years of debate, the Supreme Court has finally concluded that video games are protected under First Amendment rights.

Erik Norrisby Erik Norris


The fat lady has sung. The Supreme Court has finally ruled in favor of the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) in their case versus the State of California (Brown) in regards to the sale of violent video games to minors. Video games will be treated no differently than books, movies and music, and are protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

It was in 2005 when the state of California passed a law to ban the sale of violent video games to anyone under the age of 18. Video games would also start carrying extra warning labels on their packaging outside the normal ESRB rating, not unlike cigarette warnings. Anyone found guilty of breaking that law would pay a maximum fine of $1,000 for each infraction.

However, many jumped on this law for discriminating against video games, which are fundamentally no different than any other form of entertainment. It seems the Supreme Court of the United States of America feels the same way.

“… Like the protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas-and even social messages-through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot, and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player's interaction with the virtual world). That suffices to confer First Amendment protection. Under our Constitution, ‘esthetic and moral judgments about art and literature . . . are for the individual to make, not for the Government to decree, even with the mandate or approval of a majority.’”

So breathe easy, fellow gamers. On this day we have won. But the war is far from over. There are still a lot of people out there who are ignorant to video games being a true form of artistic expression, not just some kind of serial killer trainer.

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