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Video Game Special Interest Sues California

The association of video game retailers sued the state of California Monday to overturn a new law that would bar minors from renting or buying “violent” games. The Video Software Dealers Association filed the case in federal district court in San Jose in a bid to have the law declared unconstitutional.

“We wish we did not have to take this action, but we must protect the First Amendment rights (emphasis added) of video game retailers and distributors and their customers,” VSDA president Bo Andersen said. Take that as you will, but when there is no legal right for large corporations to make money without government regulation, their case seems thin.

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The bill, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, was signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on October 7. It is set to go into effect January 1 and would fine retailers $1,000 for selling or renting such games to anyone under 18.

The bill defines a “violent video game” as one that allows a player an option to kill, maim, dismember or sexually assault an image of a human being in a way that is “especially heinous, cruel or depraved,” like torture, or in a way that appeals to the “deviant or morbid interests” of a minor, is patently offensive to prevailing community standards regarding what is suitable for a minor and is devoid of serious artistic or other value.

VSDA is separately challenging two similar bills. A Michigan law would fine retailers for selling or renting “ultraviolent explicit video games” to anyone younger than 17, while lawmakers in Illinois have approved a bill to impose criminal penalties on retailers who rent or sell “violent” video games to minors.