California video game Ratings Struck Down On Appeal


Fresh blowback for campaigns to restrict/ban the sale of violent video games to minors: A California law requiring extra-prominent labels on violent games has been found unconstitutional by an appeals court. On free speech grounds, apparently.

Reuters: A U.S. appeals court ruled on Friday that a California law restricting the sales and rental of violent video games to minors and imposing labelling requirements violates free speech guarantees.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the labelling requirement unfairly forces video games to carry “the state’s controversial opinion” about which games are violent.

The 2005 law, which requires games described as violent to carry an “18” label, has been contested by video game publishers, distributors and sellers.

We’re of mixed opinion on this. On one hand, studies purporting to link violent games to real-world violence always get shaky and smack of political motivation once you dig into the methodology. On the other hand, yeah, games like “Grand Theft Auto IV” really are violent, and it seems inconsistent to card kids trying to see an R-rated movie but get upset over a 12-year-old not being unable to buy a game like “Hitman: Blood Money”

Either way, kids will find a way to play their games, and we doubt today’s action (or its reversal in the inevitable further appeal) will impact game sales much one way or the other.