Game Over for Limits on Violent Video Games
America's video game industry was the winner in a decision last weekby the United States Supreme Court.
The justices rejected a law in California that banned the sale orrental of violent video games to people under eighteen. They said the twothousand five law violated the free speech guarantee in the First Amendment tothe Constitution. The vote was seven to two.
The court decided that video games are a protected form of creativeexpression like books, plays and movies. Paul McGreal, dean of the University of Dayton law school in Ohio, says California did not see gaming that way.
PAUL McGREAL: "The state of California tried to argue that thiswas not speech, it was more of an activity because children interact and playwith the video games, and so it's not traditional speech like a book or like amagazine."
California lawmakers argued that violent games were especially harmful to children. But the court said they were no more harmful than the violence in other forms of media. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion. He pointed to the violence in fairy tales like "Snow White"and "Cinderella" and in cartoons.
Professor McGreal says the court sees its job as only to decide what is and is not legally protected speech.
PAUL McGREAL: "The Supreme Court said we're going to decidewhat counts as speech and then leave it up to private individuals, not thegovernment, to decide what speech they want to see and want to view. We don'twant to get the Supreme Court into making fine distinctions about what isbetter than others, because that will lead us down a slippery slope. Once you start deciding that, what's to stop the government from saying that, forexample, Grimm's fairy tales themselves are too violent, or that particular books should be banned?"
In fact, from nineteen fifteen to nineteen fifty-two, the SupremeCourt permitted censorship of movies for fear they could be "used forevil."
Today the film and music industries have voluntary rating systems,and so does the video game industry. For example, extremely violent games arerated "M" for mature. Abby Halloran, a manager at a Gamestop store inClinton, Maryland, says these are meant for ages seventeen and older.
ABBY HALLORAN: "If there is blood and gore, intense violence,strong language, strong sexual content -- anything like that, use of drugs andalcohol -- those are all M-rated."
Only five percent of the more than sixteen hundred games rated lastyear were rated M. Still, Ms. Halloran says M-rated games like Call of Duty,Halo and Fallout are the most popular games in the store. Children need aparent's permission to buy them.
去年超过1600个游戏中，仅有5%被评为M级。尽管如此，哈洛伦女士称，M级游戏，例如《使命召唤Call of Duty》，《光晕Halo》和《辐射Fallout》一类的M级游戏是店里最受欢迎的。儿童购买这类游戏需要得到父母许可。
ABBY HALLORAN: "If they don't have a parent with them theycan't buy it. If their parent says it's okay we're obligated to sell it tothem. But we're obligated to ask the parent and explain to them all of thereasons why it's a more mature rated game. And if they still agree with it thenwe'll sell it to them. But the majority of the time when we tell them what's init, they don't."