California government argues video games make minors violent

Lisa Zhang

Schwarzenegger v. EMA goes before the Supreme Court to establish restrictions on video-gaming minors

 

 

As a minor in California, you are banned from buying anything along the lines of a violent video game, especially if it is depicted in a "especially heinous, cruel, or depraved” manner.


On Oct. 7, 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill restricting the sale and rental of video games deemed to be “offensive to the community” and minors. This new law was strongly opposed by video game supporters throughout the nation, including the Entertainment Merchants Association and Entertainment Software Association, both of whom claimed that this law would set a dangerous precedent that could lead to the censorship of all types of media materials to minors.

So the EMA decided to sue.

Schwarzenegger v. EMA was filed on Oct. 17, 2007. The case was appealed through the US District Court and the Ninth Court of Appeals, which both held that the law was unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments on the case starting Nov. 2.

Until then, students have formed their own opinions about the case.

Schwarzenegger v. EMA debates the ability of state legislatures to restrict the sale of violent video games to minors. The case is scheduled to be heard before the Supreme Court on Nov. 2. Photo by Lisa Zhang.

“I think that [the law should be overturned] because it’s a little stupid,” junior Michael Whittaker said. “I see the basis for [passing the law] and not wanting kids to be exposed to

but at the same time, I personally don’t believe that any form of media really has an effect on a responsible person.”

There are other students who agree with Whittaker’s point of view. Junior Jeremy Irvin, who is an avid video-gamer himself, also believes that the law is unnecessary.

“California seems to be kind of strict on the censorship—sometimes even oversensitive in some cases,” Irvin said. “I think it’s kind of a ridiculous law.”

After this law was passed in October 2005, it was quickly brought before the courts by EMA, where the District Court issued a permanent injunction on Aug. 6, 2007. As a result, many students do not feel as though they have been substantially affected by the law.

“Most of our parents let us buy M-rated video games anyways. They’ll buy [the video game] for us, so it’s not a big deal,” junior Hemanth Kini said. “[Therefore], I think it would be best if the Supreme Court let [the law] pass to remain as it is right now.”

Kini understands the government’s intent in passing the law, even though he does not agree that video games affect how minors behave.

“Video games are an unique form of expression versus movies, music or books. I don’t think

should be held to the same level as the other forms of expression,” Kini said. “The media does have somewhat of an influence, but video games do not.”

Whittaker also believes that video games do not substantially influence minors like himself towards violence.

“I’m sure there are some idiots out there who are kids and play the game and go “Yeah! Let’s go do this” and get in trouble,” Whittaker said. “But I would say [for] the strong majority of people, especially if their parents exert a strong influence, it would not have no effect on them whatsoever.”

Kini agrees with Whittaker’s point of view on video games. He has read many articles online about medical studies revealing the negative behavior of video games on minors, but still personally believes that minors are able to separate the game from reality.

“Parents and organizations tend to bring up that violent video games make your kid violent, but people understand it’s just a video game,” Kini said. “I don’t think there’s a whole attack on our minds while we play these

games.”