A Victory for the First Amendment and Gamers

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A Victory for the First Amendment and Gamers

“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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  • YES! Government should have NO SAY in my choice of what I want to watch/play/read!

  • I’m no mindless freak regardless of what xbox fanboys say but I’m glad video games can enjoy the same freedoms as books, movies, and other media. This news makes me happy.

  • good lol, im not sure why anyone would think that have the right to tell me what i can/cant do with my time

  • awesome :)

  • Thanks, all, for the supportive comments. It was a big win for gamers and the First Amendment. However, we know there are still politicians out there who will continue down a mistaken path of legislating video games. That’s why we need folks to join the VGVN–it’s free, simple, and has a real impact in helping defend video games.

  • Yay good news!

  • i signed the petition.

  • This was definitely great news!

  • wow, the supreme court got something right for once after the whole citizens united thing i had lost hope. but even a broken clock is right twice a day i guess.congratulations and thanks the esa for defending the first amendment rights of the industry we love and the community were all a part of. remember the first amendment is not there to protect speech you agree with but that which you don’t so if you silence one voice you have to silence them all

  • Excelent!!!!

  • already put a linking banner on my website. thanks for the effort on this MAJOR win.

    google: Hammer Technologies Corp.

  • Yeah that’s what’s up. This is how it always should have been. I teach my daughter right from wrong and she does not act out the games she sees me play no matter how violent they may be. Seems like some parents let there kids pick any game and play it without guidance. Quite a shame when T.V. and games raise a kid instead of being for fun. But it is absolutely a good thing that parents are solely responsible for what there kids play now.

  • Pffff, take away my PS2, PS3, AND PSP?!?! Politicians will NEVER interfere with my gaming!

  • That’s the way it should be!! Parents ultimately should decide which game their children play!!
    Parents still have to do their job and keep young kids from playing these mature rated games.

  • This sets the appropriate precedent I think.
    While I would question how appropriate GTA is for an 8 year old, it’s not the government’s job to make that decision–it’s the parents.
    Besides the game industry has a solid program in place already.

  • good. i would have been upset if they just banned violent video games all together. pretty much have to ban all video games. at the end of the day.

  • But think of the children!!!

    Time to focus on something more important, politicians.

  • YAY! Long live the gaming industry.

  • for once, the justice system does it right. and this is the first thread without complaints :D

  • well I wouldn’t clairfiy this as a historic decision

  • leave our games alone!!! hehe this is great news. five stars, ok ok five red boxes lol.

  • Whoop whoop, sound the alarm the gamers have beaten the government. It’s about time. I am a father of four children whom all play video games, I let them play what is appropriate for them at their age. Super Rub a Dub for an example, also the Disney games and Spyro and such. BIG WIN, GO VIDEO GAMES.

  • It should have been up to the parents in the first place not the government…Thats what the ESRB was for… Now the parents just need to pay attention to their little punk kids who spew verbal diarrhea over their mics and all will be good :)

  • Now that the Supreme Court has decided this way let’s finally publish ‘Thrill Kill”!!! It was slated to be released for the PSOne & was shelved when the Senate was on a similar witch-hunt for violent games.
    “We need Thrill Kill!”, “We need Thrill Kill!”, “We need Thrill Kill!”

  • I am an adult, so I don’t much care what games minors can or cannot play.

  • As a Canadian, I watched this outcome with bated breath. In matters such as these, Canada often becomes the USA’s 51st State, and emulates the legislation soon after. I am very pleased with the recent outcome of these events. As is always the case with a responsible parent (of which I am), I, and I alone, will make decisions for the well being of my child.

  • Yeah, yeah, we’re all for the First Amendment when it’s used in our favor, such as this surprising ruling by an ultra rightwing supreme court. People cite the First Amendment whether or not they’ve ever read it, much less understand it. It’s first by no accident. It is to limit government’s reach against unpopular speech, religion etc. So, this ruling is popular in this blog, of course. That’s easy. Not so easy is digging up enthusiasm for protecting that same right for the unpopular.

    So, happy gamers who are at least 18: register & vote, especially to protect the rights of the unpopular.

  • ha what now Arnold Schwarzenegger

  • Some misinformed politicians are still trying to control the internet. They will certainly try to control on-line content and that might include on-line gaming. The fight is not just to protect content but its distribution as well.

  • YES! seriously this is great news, Im looking to get into the industry and help make games and its great to see that when I manage to get on a team, we wont be restricted by any dumb laws.

  • this country is turning more and more into a socialist country..

  • i really dont agree how they blinded this matter with legal right ,. Stores should be held accountable for what they sell to minors. If minor pick up playboy magazine a nd buy it , wthn fault is that. You can blame the parents but you have blame the stores aswell. They should should not be letting young gamers buy violent games.

    We sit back and blame the parents. I do agree they do share some of the blame,but some of these games like cod target young gamers with violent games.. LOOk Cod which audince did they target the casaul gamer which a teen game,kid gamer. alot of compnaies are targeting teens and young gamers.

    It is not right. nor is is it moral. Its very disgusting they mix thisup for all mighty dollar. Kids dont deserve to play violence..That not a right.

    vp-psn legionaree group

  • I like playing violent video games too. Why? Because thy’re fun. You don’t see me waking up in the middle of the night scared to death, or going on a murderous rampage..They’re for fun, and they are.

  • @mcbuttz78 Get out of here. Your the one ruining everything. Toung people playing violent games is fine..What would happen to them? it’s all fun and games. you over reactive people need to take your head out of your a** and face reality

  • young*

  • As with any form of media, it should be for the legal guardians of minors to decide what content is appropriate for them. Here in WI, a minor cannot purchase a game with a ‘M’ rating, but it is however perfectly legal for their parent to procure it for them.

    I personally find war simulation games to be in contradiction to my personal values, so I don’t play them. I also don’t judge others who do enjoy them. On a side-note I find zombie headshots to be perfectly enjoyable:)

    •People would do well to raise their own children, not leave it to government, media, or anyone else to do so.

    •America has much more important issues to tackle.

    Down with ‘Citizens United’. Down with ‘Patriot Act’.
    For the people, by the people, of the people.

  • It’s also funny that the government worries more about video games than relatively important issues..This country’s government is a joke.

  • If sores allow kids to buy violent games they desrve to be fined. I can see the parent saying ok. My child can ply this under my supersvision at home. but how many times have mom and dad sat and watched thier teens play these violent games,?? not much . we all know this is a fact.

    This had nothing with your buying rights. it was directed a gaming compnaies who target kids towards violent games and fining stores who sell kids violent games. It had nothing to with your personal buying right. They mixed all the info up there there greedy favor. Which is very discusting and common of them to do. They should be ashmed!!

    vp -psn legionarre group

  • Now if Only someone would stand up and crush the ESRB Then five year olds can finally buy video game porn.

    Of course neither Sony Nor Microsoft or even Nintendo Well allow an adult game.

    So how exactly is this a victory for free speech again?

    Right its a Victory for Companies at a victory of companies.

    So go collect your money from those six year olds buying some mature title that they really shouldnt be able to do.

  • @30 how is it fine. to sell a violent game to a minor. and stores and c ompanies get off scott free. You can blame the parent but looka the commericals and ad. who are inthose ads. kids? So So with your logic let allow kids in strip clubs becuase the perents are ok with it.

    Have you ever heard of a dead beat parent. ? They dont care . Someone has to step up for socieyty good in stead of corprate greed. What give games devs the right to target kids on violent games and sexual themed games. Yes it your right to play what you want but stores and games devs need to stop the foolishness and get more creative with making games. Look at the market shooter galore targeted at kids.

    Is it not he prent job to sheild the child away fromthe bad things in life.? How he/she with companies doing ads towards kids.? how?

  • stores* typo

  • @mcbuttz78 It’s not the stores fault. How would a 10 year old kid possibly get a violent game? The parents weren’t there. Therefore, it’s not the store’s problem, it’s the parents. If you honestly believe that violent games ruin childrens minds, just grow up. Maybe if they’re 5 I can understand, but if they’re a good age, there’s no problem. We don’t need parents watching over us. Why are they there in the first place? We’re not babies and you need to stop sheltering your kid. He’s going to have a hard time later in life if you shelter him to death so much that you ban video games. Your the parents that screw the system. you should be ashamed..

  • @mcbuttz78 You’re missing the point, my friend. I don’t know of any retailer that doesn’t abide by the ESRB ratings, because they’d fear the obvious reprisals from disgruntled parents/local media/people like you etc.
    This ruling, if it had gone the other way, would not only have meant many places in California would have stopped selling M-rated, or even T-rated, titles, it would have put pressure on developers and publishers to stop producing games with that content. After all, California is the most populous state in the nation, and not being able to sell your game there could have a huge impact on sales.
    Yes, this is a victory for big business. But it’s also one of those rare cases where it’s also a victory for us citizens, common sense and freedom of expression. & freedom of choice. The only losers are people like Jack Thompson and Leland Yee, whose ignorance concerning video games would be hilarious if it wasn’t so alarming.

  • While I like the fact that this got shot down (less government intrusion the better) I would still like to see something done about getting kids out of M rated games. I really don’t care if they play M rated SP games, but when it comes to online MP they should only be allowed to play games that fall within their age category.

    Probably never going to happen, but it sure would be nice to get our online games back without the kiddies constantly ruining them.

    BTW I’m sure the only reason this got shot down was because of the billions of $$ that Sony and Microsoft threw into somebody’s lap.

  • @34 Freedom of speech ends where a crime begins. This wind-bag rightwing court finally upheld the Constitution for once. This group will always side with big business… The decision just happened to actually be constitutional for once. That is the one and ONLY purpose of the US Supreme Court, to uphold the Constitution & Bill of rights. Not impose morality in how they define it.

  • Your supposed to let your kid see reality at a young age so they’re prepared.. He’s just going to grow up being a push over..Your the parents that ruin their lives, so I kindly say f*** off.

  • @mcbuttz78 Maybe you’d like to see Barnes & Noble fined for selling under-18s a copy of Catcher in the Rye? I hear that book has some dirty words in it.

  • This is why gaming to going to crap , becuase they allow companies to just plop down a violent to the masses aimed at kids. It neglects gaming genre’s ALl we have been seeing this genreation is shooters aimed toward s kids. WHY/

    Where all the adventure games or rpgs aimed at adults?Where are the next genration games aimed to expand the thought of the gamer , the puzzle games ? All your going to get this genration is kids games aimed at kids that are shooter. The devs of those games should be fined. just like big tobacco was. They cleaned the’re act up. So did the stores..

  • Plus lets face it, you realize how much money California gets in taxes from video games and things related the video games? Even a state as retarded and liberally controlled as CA knows that the loss of money would be far too much.

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