The Supreme Court has officially ruled that video games fall under First Amendment protection in the United States. The case that could have changed the gaming industry forever was judged this morning in favor of designers, developers, publishers and fans.
If you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a quick round of catch-up. California chased a case all the way to the Supreme Court concerning the sale of video games in retail stores. The general pitch was that violent games were so damaging to the youth of the nation that their sale to consumers under 18 years old should be made illegal. That would put M rated games, like Halo or Resistance, on the same level as cigarettes or lottery tickets.
However, unlike cigarettes and lottery tickets, video games are considered creative properties that communicate ideas to those that experience them. USA Today’s Gamehunters blog Justice Scalia discussed the ruling briefly:
“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.”
The decision came in favor of the gaming industry at 7 to 2. Had it gone the other way around, I expect several companies would have been placed in jeopardy of financial tumbling.
More than that, though, this was a ruling that acted towards protecting the freedom of speech here in the States. It also aids the gaming medium in becoming a more widely recognized and accepted vessel for the sharing of narratives, ideals and drama. The Supreme Court has officially recognized video games as capable users of literary devices. That’s straight scholarly.
Had M rated for minors been outlawed, companies may have been forced to change the way they tell stories, evolve action and portray gore in order to hit market demographics and sales potential. It would have been damning for the medium.
Where do you stand on violent games and minors? How about free speech and gaming as creative material?
[via USA Today’s Gamehunters]