The U.S. Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments Tuesday in a case that will determine whether a California law governing video games violates free speech.
In Schwarzenegger v Entertainment Merchants the state of California is backing the law it created in 2005 that prohibits the sale or rental of any video game deemed violent to a person under the age of 18. The law defines violent games as those that give the player the option of killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being in any way deemed offensive. The retailer who sold or rented the game would be punished by a fine of up to $1000. This law would override the current ratings system used by the industry.
According to the state, they have the legal obligation to protect the children that the industry has failed.
The video game makers have a different opinion. They believe the law violates their free speech rights. According to those behind the games, the already imposed ratings system is an adequate guide for parents to determine what is or is not appropriate for their children.
The motion picture industry has existed for decades with a self-monitoring ratings system. It was developed after some complaints that content was too explicit for a general audience and has worked well by most standards. It is feared that if the high court rules in favor of the law it could then branch out to include other forms of media as well.
The Supreme Court often hears cases with regards to protecting youth. They have previously stopped repeated attempts to protect children from pornography because the legislation interfered with adults rights to access lawful content.