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Judges Ruled: Game Laws are Unconstitutional

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 57 comments

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that laws passed in the state of California mandating games be labeled and strict age requirements are unconstitutional, going against free speech.

Surprisingly, three judges ruled unanimously against the mandates, agreeing that violent video games haven't been proven to cause psychological harm to young players. This has been an ongoing debate for many years. Gamers themselves likewise argue that the violence they experience in video games don't carry out with them into real life interactions.

"Even if it did, the Act is not narrowly tailored to prevent that harm and there remain less restrictive means of forwarding the state's purported interests," the court said.

There have been crossed opinions on how to judge whether a game is "too violent" and up until now, a private group of officials have been the judges behind the labels. The court judges however, said that the labeling and requirements unfairly allow the state to label games, barring them from sale to minors.

If I remember correctly, the first time I played Super Mario Bros. on my NES, I was killing many things, and most of them animals. But clearly, it was all for a good cause of saving a princess in distress. The essence of SMB was that you had to "eliminate" the baddies. I still play violent video games today, as well as other genres, but I don't become violent against other people.

Unfortunately, examples such as the kid who shot his parents, killing his mom, for vengeance over the opportunity to play Halo 3, doesn't bode well with state legislators.

If you're a gamer, do you feel playing violent video games influences your behavior and temper? What do you think about restrictive laws on video games?

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  • 6 Hide
    antilycus , February 20, 2009 7:46 PM
    i think that, AGAIN, all of these politicians are a complete waste of space. WHY DO YOU VOTE THESE LOSERS INTO OFFICE? If you don't like what they are doing, VOTE THEM OUT. Here in WI, we have a man hater that is going to be a judge because nobody will vote against her (and there is a running mate). She's already ruined a few family by putting male drivers of car accidents (with no blood or acohol in their system) in jail for 25-45 years... because of an ACCIDENT...

    The parents of these families have nobody to blame but themselves for not voting AGAINST this judge.
  • 3 Hide
    SneakySnake , February 20, 2009 7:46 PM
    doesn't affect in the slightest
  • -4 Hide
    JDocs , February 20, 2009 7:47 PM
    Dumb ass laws. What makes people violent is the lack of tough laws against violence. Financial crimes seem to be punished far more seriously than violent crimes. I can get money back but my life is a once off thing.
  • Display all 57 comments.
  • 3 Hide
    dark_lord69 , February 20, 2009 7:51 PM
    I agree with the judges. I am a gamer and I have been playing games my whole life. I like very violent games. Ya, know, use a shotgun to blow someones leggs off and hear them scream. But even though I like games like that doesn't mean I'm dumb enough to doing anything like that in real life. I am probably one of the most passive quiet people you'd meet. Lets not forget the fact that other countries have the same video games and don't have the same issues with kids blaming games saying I just did like the video game.. That's total BS. Next time I get pulled over I'm just gonna tell the cop oh well it's not my fault I was playing need for speed and he will say "OK, I'll let you go cause we all know it's the video games fault you were speeding".
  • 0 Hide
    JDocs , February 20, 2009 7:53 PM
    Lol no blood or alcohol? Sounds like he was to dead to go to jail :p 

    However it is sad what happened!
  • 1 Hide
    Darkness Flame , February 20, 2009 8:04 PM
    The first truly violent game I ever played was Halo back when I was 12. Compared to a lot of other games, even around that time, it wasn't overly violent. However, it was the first one with an M rating. All I can say is going through "The Library" in the middle of the night with all the lights around me turned off scared the crap out of me for a while.

    Regardless of that, I actually felt that I could handle my anger and rage better after playing games like Halo. So, all in all, no downside from my experiences ... well ... other than just losing some sleep at times.
  • 0 Hide
    spikey_monkey , February 20, 2009 8:23 PM
    My first experiences with video games was also SMB but shortly after, the first Doom. I had to have been 6 or 7 at the time, killing demons from hell in bloody glory. I can honestly say today I abhor violence in the real world and can never justify harming another person, physically or emotionally, other than in self-defense.
  • 0 Hide
    jhansonxi , February 20, 2009 8:26 PM
    This debate has been raging ever since Spacewar! was created:!

    That was 1962. Considering what the 60s were like you could theorize that video games promote drugs but not violence.
  • 2 Hide
    tayb , February 20, 2009 8:42 PM
    Not only have I found video games to never incite violence but they have actually been a very effective means of taking out my aggression. Funny...
  • 2 Hide
    NuclearShadow , February 20, 2009 8:49 PM
    What I find odd about the whole debate is that the other side acts as if violence has never existed or even to such levels before when video games existed. The truth is the world is much less violent than it is today than it was anytime in the past. Even our wars today have much less casualties than any other period of history.

    Also our definition of children has become anything less than 18 here in the US. However this isn't recognized everywhere and most likely no where in the else past. Children in the past have been known to be violent and young teens would even serve in armies and die on battlefields throughout history. So certainly we can't blame video games or any other modern type of hobby or activity for the violence we see today in our youth.
  • 0 Hide
    grimreality , February 20, 2009 8:52 PM
    Rather going out on an office killing spree because I'm stressed out and hate the people I'm around, I can go home and get on my computer and kill fictional characters without harming anybody. Disaster averted. Thank you, video games.

    Now, I'm not stupid and I know that with a troubled mind, participating enactments of violence or just watching acts/enactments of violence, can have a profound negative effect, and because of that we should be mindful. For the majority of us who are stable enough to know reality from fantasy, and how to keep things that way, yes of course this is silly. But it only takes one messed up kid with Halo in one hand and a shotgun in another to ruin it for the rest of us.
  • 0 Hide
    N19h7M4r3 , February 20, 2009 8:58 PM
    I have been killing bots in game since i was a little over 10, and i havent had the urge to kill anyone yet... i live in a country where guns arent exacly a must have in house. I acually do have access to some since my fathers in the armed forces of my country... Before taking the controler of the kids hand, try to take the gun off the other hand first...
  • 0 Hide
    afrobacon , February 20, 2009 9:03 PM
    Games make for a great stress reliever, without them there would probably be more bad examples of kids bringing violence to real life.

    On that note:
    Some days when I get home I don't know what I'd do without my good ol' N64 and it's amazing Perfect Dark game... So I'm a bit behind in the console wars, deal with it.
  • 2 Hide
    jerreece , February 20, 2009 9:05 PM
    "Unfortunately, examples such as the kid who shot his parents, killing his mom, for vengeance"

    That particular example, had more to do with parenting, addiction, and psychological problems with the child. The video game itself was not the cause there, IMO.

    I kind of have to agree with the judges in this case. However, I hope this ruling will not prevent folks from preventing very young children from buying software/games which display adult content (nudity, porn, etc). That goes beyond free speech, and begins to intrude on another person's rights (which is why you can't run naked in public without being arrested).

    I've played video games since I was 5 or 6 years old. I've played most of the GTA games, Halo, COD, and lots of FPS games. I've never had the inclination to hurt another person due to this.
  • 1 Hide
    phantomtrooper , February 20, 2009 9:55 PM
    im actually writing a research paper on this right now. my take is that young children 10 or so and under shouldn't be playing really violent games, neither should anyone who has a psychological disorder that can make them violent. other than that i have seen no problem with video games causing real world violence, so game on.
  • 1 Hide
    kshub216 , February 20, 2009 10:18 PM
    killing pixels is fun, killing people is illegal, period

    there was murder and violence going back in time, pre-electricity (aka no video games), what do all the researchers blame then?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 20, 2009 10:20 PM
    So why are there rating son movies then? Should be Freedom of speech, no? Has there ever been a connection made by people watching movies and violence?

    It would seem the laws/rules that apply to video games should apply to all other forms of media, no? So I guess the Ninth Circuit will soon be striking down a bunch of other rules.
  • 5 Hide
    nachowarrior , February 20, 2009 11:57 PM
  • 1 Hide
    freiheitner , February 21, 2009 12:03 AM
    The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that laws passed in the state of California mandating games be labeled and strict age requirements are unconstitutional, going against free speech.

    Hmm, by this logic, X-rated films ought to be open to minors. The ratings systems is largely the same for movies as it is for video games (different notations but the same general idea behind their use).
  • 2 Hide
    freiheitner , February 21, 2009 12:04 AM
    nachowarriortwo words.... PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY!

    Amen brother!
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