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Can California Ban the Sale of Violent Video Games?

2 Nov 2010

Last Tuesday, new California legislation instigated heated debate in the Supreme Court over controversial violent video games, such as Postal 2. Sounds harmless, but the controller has the options of killing police and urinating on victims, just to name a few standard tasks of “The Postal Dude.”

Ex-Terminator Arnold Schwarznegger, as governor of California, has expressed deep concern with the gaming industry’s popular bloody screen-shots and disturbing machismo characteristics.

While the deviant material is a major issue, the new state law seems to focus more on a specific demographic — young children: “Retailers would face up to $1,000 fine for violations. The law would also require game makers and retailers to place an ’18’ label prominently on excessively violent games.”

The Supreme Court now faces two critical questions: Firstly, do states have the right to interfere with free market commerce? Secondly, if the content of video games is strictly regulated, then what comes next?

Deputy Attorney General Morazzini argues that the interactive nature of video games separates them from other multimedia entertainment, such as music and movies, where the individual is only a passive partaker of the activity.

The case is Schwarzenegger vs. Entertainment Merchants Association, and a ruling is expected by next spring.

[via CNN]

2 Comments leave one →
  1. esthertranle permalink
    4 Nov 2010 8:36 AM

    You can also argue the stereotypes the video games set (just look at the picture we used). As for the case itself, it sounds like another Commerce Clause debate. I wonder what the ruling will be.

  2. 2 Nov 2010 7:44 PM

    I think the subtext of this debate is the more important issue: Are violent video games negatively influencing children? I’ll admit Postal 2 is an especially sociopathic and grim example, but it’s also true that violent means aren’t necessary to beat most portions of the game. Does the interactive agency that Morazzini points to in games re-express itself violently in real life? There aren’t any causal links to suggest so; in fact, to blame the media for aggressive behavior is such a reductive argument that obscures the nuances at play here: mental instability, social exclusion, quality of home life, etc. Henry Jenkins breaks down these myths very well in this article on

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