Compared to media such as literature, music and film, video games are still in their infancy, and their effect on youth is not yet fully understood.
Therefore, games and their impact on society do deserve "thoughtful consideration," writes attorney S. Gregory Boyd in a new Gamasutra feature
on the much-debated California violent game law, which would put restrictions on the sale of "excessively violent" games to minors.
The Supreme Court begins hearing oral arguments about the bill this week in Schwarzenegger vs. Entertainment Merchants Association.
But with several similar video game laws being struck down in recent years in other states and two lower California courts finding the law unconstitutional, Boyd has his doubts that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of the bill.
"It would be surprising to the legal community if this case went against all the prior similar cases on content-based regulation," he wrote. "The consensus expectation is that this case will fit with the other state cases on this issue (and the two lower court decisions in California). The preliminary injunction will likely be upheld and the statute will likely be held unconstitutional."
The law would require games deemed "excessively violent" to have a 2" x 2" label on the front of the packaging that displays an "18," signifying the legal buying age of certain titles. Retailers would be fined for selling such games to minors.
"...There is a lot of buzz in the legal community about why the case was taken up by the Supreme Court at all," Boyd added. "Perhaps this is a case of the High Court stepping in to settle the issue in a more final way."
"...The Court could see that, clearly, the states are not 'getting it' with the other cases, and they know this type of legislation has already cost the state taxpayers more than $2 million in reimbursed legal fees."
Boyd's review of the law and the measure's implications is now available on Gamasutra