Tuesday, June 28, 2011

super.hype: Unnecessary Litigation Edition 2011 - Brown vs. EMA: California's Ultrabattle Against Ultraviolence

It's been a banner week for videogames. Not only has the PC gaming scene been inundated with new, quality independent releases, it's even won page space on a number of non-video game related news outlets. Why? Well, for those of you living under rocks, a recent Supreme Court ruling deemed a stubborn California law, one that has long caused retailers and developers alike a fair share of grief, unconstitutional. Now, sale of "ultraviolent" video games to minors, though still regulated by the ESRB and retailers themselves, is no longer illegal. (full decision can be found here)


Understandably, this decision has caused uproarious uproar and outrageous outrage from both sides. Proponents of "video game expression" are overjoyed about the confirmation of their views, while opponents (which I suppose could be seen as proponents in another sense) see it as simply another slip into the eventual moral degeneracy of the great state of California. Only time will tell, really.

In the meantime, friend and fellow reader James McKinley (CaffeineRage) had some thoughts to share about this momentous event.

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The video game industry reached an important milestone today. One which has some parent groups and politicians calling out in outrage. Today, the Supreme Court decided, in a seven to two ruling, that video games are protected under Freedom of Speech as dictated by the First Amendment and as such cannot be restricted in sales. What does this mean? This means that the ban of sales of violent and mature rated games to minors in the state of California is unconstitutional and is overturned.

What angers me most about the backlash from this decision isn't the people who are claiming that video games will warp a child's mind. It is the same argument that has been stated since the early 90s in regards to games meant for mature audiences. That argument wasn't true then nor has it gained and ground since.

What angers me most about this is the claim that this ruling will interfere with a parent's rights to raise their child. That somehow, without government stepping it, a parent will be completely clueless about how to protect and mold their child. This, of course, is completely bogus.

What interferes with a parent's rights to raise a child is people telling them what they can and cannot do. This is exactly what the law would have done. It would have restricted the rights of responsible parents to allow their child to buy a game that the parent researched and was content in letting their child play. While it wouldn't have prevented the parent from buying the game for the child, it is an unnecessary step for a parent to have to take.

Also, if the law was allowed to progress; what would have happened to services like Steam? Would they have to block all inappropriate games from being available/playable to an account that is flagged to belong to an underaged player? It is a very short step from controlling to banning. That is one battle that is still being fought in Australia and some would love to see come to the United States.

I fully understand the want of a parent to protect their child. It is a natural feeling that any good parent will have. But, handing your responsibilities, if even just a small part of them, to an unfeeling, uncaring agency that does not take into account what you think or feel is not the way to go about it. What each parent thinks is appropriate or not varies greatly upon each individual child and as such is impossible to regulate by a large agency.

Raising a child is the most important job in the world and comes before everything else without exception. Embrace that job. The moments of pain, the years of joy, and everything in between. Take the time to raise your child as you see fit. Don't call out for the government to do it for you. You may not like the results.

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Well said, friend. Also, thank God I  don't yet have children. What a world to have to raise kids in where it's not okay to expose them to ultraviolence in the well-protected confines of my own home. If I can't expose my kids to ultraviolence, who can?? I may be totally misinterpreting this event.

That's all for this week's edition of super.hype. Have thoughts about this decision? Can't find anyone who cares? Comment below!