Most people see a violent video game being sold and do not think twice about it. The sale of violent video games in our current system is normal. In 2008, 298.2 million video games were sold in the US, totaling $11.7 billion in revenue. Six of the top ten best-selling video games included violence, with four of the games carrying a "Mature" rating recommended for persons aged 17 and older (Procon). In June 2011, the case of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association California attempted to enforce a statute that gives a punishment for selling violent video games to minors (Herard 515). Entertainment Merchants Association took this statute to court saying it violated rights given to the people under the first amendment. Both sides of the case had a well constructed argument. The Supreme Court had a final decision of seven to two. Even though the decision was not very close, both sides need to be looked at to understand how the decision came about.
The time prior to this case, violence due to videogames was being shown by the media more than ever. There was always a news article on the kid who beat up another kid because he learned it in the video game he just got. A game fell into the violent category if its depictions of
violent acts (1) were rendered in a way that "[a] reasonable person. considering the game as a whole, would find appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors," (2) were "patently offensive to prevailing standards in the community as to what is suitable forminors," and (3) would cause "the game, on the whole, to lackserious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors" (Herard 516). Brown wanted it to be harder for minors to get these violent videogames, and if the game was sold to a minor there would be a fine of $1000 imposed. They felt this punishment could substantially lower the amount of violence with minors. California enacted the statute not thinking it would be a possible violation of the first amendment; they were only trying to actually take a stand. However the enactment of this statute started a war in the gaming industry.
Entertainment Merchant Association believed the statute in affect was unconstitutional and therefore should be stopped. Their argument was the law took away the basic right of freedom of speech. The video game makers had the right to portray any situation they wanted and sell the game to mature audiences; whether or not the parent of a minor bought the game for their child was entirely up to the parents. Placing a fine on the person that buys for or sells to a minor is taking that person’s right to freely speak. The Court suggests that video games are essentially similar to other First Amendment-protected forms of literature, regardless of the complexity of the technology involved (Herard 525). Even though a violent game is not a piece of literature, it is still a form of expression and should be held under the protected forms of speech.
The argument put up by...