The case has been keeping many gamers and activists awake at night, but despite fears that video games would not be granted First Amendment protection as a legitimate medium, seven out of nine Supreme Court Justices agree: California’s violent video game law is unconstitutional.
Brown v. EMA started a widespread panic in the gaming community when it was appealed up to the Supreme Court, a case challenging a law that would restrict retailers from selling the vaguely termed “violent video games” to underage minors. In theory, if a government body was allowed to regulate video games, it would mean that the medium does not qualify for First Amendment protection. Consumer protection group quickly began pointing out that the sky was falling, that game developers would begin limiting their own creativity. As it turns out, Supreme Court Justices have just as much common sense as the rest of us. Especially when you read the opening lines of the full opinion:
Video games qualify for First Amendment protection. Like protected books, plays, and movies, they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium. And “the basic principles of freedom of speech… do not vary” with a new and different communication medium.
The Entertainment Consumers Association is proclaiming that the war is not over, but for now, I think we should all kick back with a favorite game and stop giving money to “activist groups.”