Video Games Win in Supreme Court, Politicians and Advocacy Groups Saddened

Video games are officially free speech, although don't tell that to the other side.

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Everyone wants to get their thoughts in about today's landmark Supreme Court decision in favor of video games as protected speech. The praise from the video game industry is expected and certainly familiar; we've been saying that the First Amendment was plenty of protection for games, just like it is for film, comics, and books. They're an entertainment medium, and a popular one.

It's the responses from the other side though - not to put too fine or too immature a point on it, "the losers" - that proves interesting. Craftsman of the bill, Democratic California Senator Leland Yee was disappointed, yet unbelievably was ready to keep pushing forward with new legislation. Yee believes he can "craft the bill differently," in order to avoid the amendment's protections. Never mind that it's been tried before, anti-game (now disbarred) lawyer Jack Thomson working in tandem with Utah politicians years ago with the same goal... and failing.

It's Yee's further statements that are most telling, revealing the point of contention that shows why his side doesn't recognize gaming properly. "[The Supreme Court] put the interests of corporate America before the interests of our children." He seems to be forgetting that many of the same creative minds who create films, books, and other media also work in the gaming industry. The final product, while of course sold by corporate America, is still a creative work. He doesn't see the artistry, just the blood, and his own stifling "protect the children" mantra.

The Parents Television Council condemned the industry while praising Yee, citing the same independent studies the Court saw as absurd in their own opinions. By far, the PTC may have scored a hyperbole winner with their line, "This ruling replaces the authority of parents with the economic interests of the video game industry." Except it doesn't, and parents around the world (not just American ones) remain capable of pulling the plug or refusing to purchase inappropriate video games for their children.

The final shots (so far) from the anti-game side come from Common Sense Media, the children's advocacy group. They plunge headfirst into the "protect the children" spiel, but come away with oddly contradicting back-to-back sentences. From their press release: "An overwhelmingly high percentage of parents would support a bill that would prevent their kids from walking into a store and buying the most ultra-violent and sexually violent of video games. That decision should be in the hands of parents, not kids or video game vendors, and certainly not the video game ratings board..."

If the decision remains in the hands of the parents, than a law which must be upheld (somehow) seems meaningless. Retail employees handing out age-inappropriate games to the younger set are bound to be fired, which in this case is the industry taking the law into their own hands. It's a win-win for both sides, yet only one side seems to have the sense to realize it.

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Matt Paprocki is a 13-year veteran of the video game, movie, and home media scene. He has written thousands of reviews, has been published on a variety of websites, and contributes his thoughts daily on a diverse range of topics.

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