“Video games qualify for First Amendment protection. Like protected books, plays and movies, they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium. And ‘the basic principles of freedom of speech…do not vary’ with a new and different communication medium.” – Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association/Entertainment Software Association, June 27, 2011
The First Amendment is alive and well in America, thanks to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued this week. The Court decisively struck down a 2005 California law attempting to restrict the sale and rental of computer and video games. This means creative expression will continue to flourish free of censorship and that consumers will retain the right to choose their own entertainment, despite California’s best attempts to surrender those rights to government.
The Court found California’s attempts to limit the rights of gamers to be unnecessary and unconstitutional. The majority of Justices found the state’s evidence of a link between video games and real-life violence “not compelling” and recognized the video game industry’s voluntary Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating system as an effective tool for parents to control the games their children play.
Many legislators around the country are already working with the Entertainment Software Association to promote awareness and use of the highly effective tools already available to parents for monitoring game play, including the ESRB rating system and parental controls available on game consoles. They understand that parents want and deserve the opportunity to make decisions about what games are suitable for their family on their own, without government intrusion.
With this historic decision, we hope many more will join with us in this effort. While we are hopeful that elected officials will finally stop wasting time and money to restrict the rights of gamers and our industry’s artists, we need your help to keep this positive momentum going. We need you to join the Video Game Voters Network and help us tell the rest of the country what we have always known, and what the Supreme Court today affirmed – that video games are forms of creative expression and fully protected by our Constitution.
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