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Video Game Regulation Law Headed to Supreme Court

Last month, the Supreme Court announced that they would take up the case Schwarzenegger v. EMA, which deals with the regulation of video games. California outlawed the selling of M rated games to minors and the courts responded by ruling it unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds.

Now, the video game industry is doing a full court press to ensure that the Supreme Court rules in their favor. The Entertainment Consumers Association is encouraging gamers to sign a petition at GamerPetition.com, which they say will be delivered to the Supreme Court as part of the trial’s official documents.

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“The gaming sector, as a whole, has arrived at perhaps the single most important challenge it has ever faced in the U.S.,” said Hal Halpin, President of the ECA. “The medium itself and how it, the trade, and its consumers will be perceived for the long term is at stake. Anyone who cares about gaming should feel compelled to both sign the petition and encourage their friends and family to do similarly. These documents will provide the court with one clear collective voice with which to vocalize our position and reinforce that we agree with the lower court findings: games, like music and movies, are protected free speech.”

The Supreme Court could either deal a decisive victory or a fatal blow to the gaming industry in their ruling. If they side with the industry, it will set a precedent that all lower courts in the United States must adhere to. Likewise, if they rule that the law is constitutional, it could result in a number of new game regulation laws across the country. California is not alone in their ban of violent video games. Illinois, Michigan and other states have all passed similar laws.

The case of those favoring game regulation has a losing record in court. Undoubtedly, the Supreme Court will take all of these past decisions into consideration. Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that videos with depictions of animal cruelty are protected under the First Amendment. While this decision was certainly controversial, it could foretell the Court’s future decision on video games. It seems likely that video games, whose violence are in a digital form, would be protected in the same way. At least if the Court is consistent.