Saturday, February 21, 2009

California Court Strikes Down Violent Game Ban, Common Sense Prevails

common sense It seems like the 9th District Court of Appeals is hell bent on getting on Gov. Schwarzenegger’s bad side. What are they thinking? Haven’t they watched Terminator?

The San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that the 9th District Court upheld a previous ruling against a California law (signed by Schwarzie in 2005) that would “bar the sale of an interactive video game to anyone under 18 if the game was so violent it was ‘patently offensive,’ according to prevailing community standards for minors, and lacked serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”

If you’ve been reading Charge Shot!!! for very long, you’ll understand how patently silly I think that last part sounds. What about all the Saw movies? Or everything Uwe Boll has ever made? I’m pretty sure those are “patently offensive.” Good thing we have a Constitution, or I’d be so busy lobbying for a ban on those dung heaps I wouldn’t have time for completely non-violent games like this.

The law was struck down again for a variety of reasons. Games in question would carry a four-inch “18” sticker label, whose printing cost would have fit snugly in California’s convalescing budget. The state also failed to show that no alternatives existed – you know, things like the ESRB system, potential educational campaigns, and parental-control technology. The nail in the coffin was the inadequacy of cited research studies, whose “researchers acknowledged that their samples were too small to draw conclusions, that there was no proof video games caused violent behavior, or that the games affected minors differently from adults.”

As for the fear that stores will sell M- or AO-rated games to minors regardless, opponents of the law touted an 80-percent ESRB compliance rate among surveyed retailers. I can personally attest to this, having borne witness to the awkward situation in which a pimple-faced clerk asks a father if the man really wants to buy his twelve-year-old son a copy of Gears of War 2. The father hesitated, then replied, “I’m playing it first.” My heart soared. The clerk asked, and the father exercised good judgment.

Nice try, Governator. You’re not in Kindergarten Cop anymore. Step away from the children. Give parents tools instead of legislature. Do your job correctly, and they’ll do the same – if they haven’t already.