id files brief in Schwarzenegger v. EMA & ESA case

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Earlier in the month we explained why you should consider signing The Gamer Petition, a grassroots campaign to mobilize the gaming community in the run-up to Schwarzenegger v. ESA and EMA. Set for oral argument in November, this landmark United States Supreme Court case will determine whether video games should continue to enjoy protection as free speech like any other respectable art form.

But gamers aren’t the only ones speaking up. Today our friends over at id Software have equipped their own legal BFGs, firing off a “friend of the court” brief for the Supreme Court justices to consider. The brief boils down to an argument for why video games should not be thought of as any different than films, novels or other artistic media.

In the argument, Homer’s “The Iliad” is used as a basis for explaining why video games “have the same claim to constitutional protection as traditional forms of art.” The brief further argues that video games’ distinctive characteristics should not exclude them from First Amendment protection.

Citing scads of legal precedents, it’s a pretty interesting read as a bystander, and hopefully something the Court will consider helpful to its deliberations. But as LeVar would say, you don’t have to take my word for it — read the full brief here. And for more information on the case, head to the Entertainment Software Association’s dedicated page.

Reader Comments

  1. I actually just finished watching Total Recall a little bit ago. I’m serious when I say that the flick is a serious work of art.

    I never understood why such narrow minded individuals feel the need to try to censor video games so much. The rating system is already one of the most comprehensive as far as media goes.

  2. Am all for this law passing. It just means children cant get their hands on games meant for adults. No different then someone under 17 not being able to see a ultra gorey R rated movie. I know i wouldnt want my young neices or nephews seeing HOSTEL. Theres a time for everything to be enjoyed in its fullness. If it happens too soon it can make the later adult years less thrilling as a young mind is desensitized to all the strong imagery already. Wheres the fun sensation and shock value of forbidden fruit if one has been tasting FALLOUT 3 since they were wee little babies?

    Children already have plenty to enjoy in their youth. I dont think they are going to become idiot savants by a lack of artisitc violence by waiting til they are older to indulge in such fun.

  3. @hellbishop: I think you are missing the point of this law. It’s not about who get’s to play which games, but what can be said and/or done witin games

    For example playing as Taliban in the latest Medal of Honor multiplayer gamemodes would not be allowed and they would have to be changed into a fictional group. Or the opening scene in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 in which you need to kill innocents bystanders.

    Both these examples are things that probably won’t be allowed anymore when the law passes. While you might argue they are bad taste on the developers behalve, these are fundamental examples of the right to free speech.

    I for one don’t want to see this happening, who knows what great games might get canceled if it does.

  4. RiptoR i havent seen anything about limiting what can be put in a game just preventing what age group cant play it. As for great games being cancelled i highly doubt it. The ever creative artistic and money oriented business of game making will find a way around it like they always do.

  5. @hellbishop

    gald to see im not the only one. seems i was alone the last time this story hit the blog. i live in cali and i would like to see even movies and other media that has already been deemed inappropriate for children get the same treatment. its not about censoring what is in the media, its about who gets thier hands on them. i wouldnt have to worry about my kids getting thier hands on a gory movie or game behind my back while hiding it, watching and/or playing it at a friends house whos parents may not care as much. in the end, where theres a will theres a way but this law will be one more obstacle. i wish others werent so, as gyshall put it above, narrow minded. stop being paranoid. the law has NOTHING to do with censoring games. this is a free country. remember that. games will be safe and rated as usual. i just think game companies are making a big stink because they think it will eat into thier sales. corporate greed.

  6. @ nick
    the only thing i see is that it could in the future apply to other media. so what. if its something that is not inteded for minors, then they shouldnt be allowed to purchaes or buy a ticket. i dont see a problem here. its about restricting media sales to minors. i think thats a good thing. again, nothing to do with the content or restricting the content. if you want to increase sales which includes minors, then youll have to restrict content so that minors can purchase. thats up to game developers. i am not surprised that they started with games first. considering games like gta being called murder simulations by some, why would any respectable company want to sell these games to kids? money. people want to put the pressure on the parents to be parents fine. restrict sales to minors and let the parents decide if thier kids a mature enough and let the parents buy it.

  7. Why is it that you are afraid your children get their hands on that kind of games? I’m asking because I come from a country where no such restrictions exist and so far no side effects have been detected. Even young children can tell that game violence is fake. In my old BF 2/ BC 2 clan we had some of the members children playing and the youngest was 8 when she started She’s a perfectly normal kid and so is the rest of the young gamers I know. Rating a game M means that people younger than 17 can’t play it. You seriously think teens can’t take a bit of violence and drug abuse? Don’t bubble-wrap your children that IS harmful.

  8. @ Hellbishop, un4gvn94538, and Michael

    I think you guys are missing the point here, this law is very, VERY bad for the gaming industry. You think this bill is just going to protect minors from violent video-games, like with movies and other forms of media, right? But wait a second, the movie industry is self-regulated without any government interference in this regard, and indeed ALL media industries are pretty much self-regulated. So why should videogames be singled out? They shouldn’t, especially since the gaming industry has far higher enforcement percentages than ANY other entertainment industry in the United States. A child has a way better chance at getting a ticket for an R-rated movie than they do an M-rated videogame: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/05/secretshop.shtm And that’s from SELF-REGULATION. Why does the government need to intervene at all? It doesn’t, this bill is just another politically motivated piece of crap out to waste tax-payer dollars making some idiot politician look good. This bill only exists so Arnold Schwarzenegger can point and say “Think of the children!” and thus garner more votes to stay in office. That’s it, this bill has no other purpose beyond that.

    But really, the issue here isn’t about the sale of videogames to minors, but rather the protection videogames have enjoyed under the first amendment coming under-fire. If one bill passes restricting videogames, more are sure to follow, and that can have some very devastating effects on the industry. Check out Extra Credits takeaway on the “Free Speech” issue, they explain it far better than I could: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/extra-credits/1961-Free-Speech

    In anycase, all of you (who live in the U.S.) should support the industry and sign the ECA’s petition (I myself, as a member of the ECA, signed it several months ago). This bill does nothing that the industry hasn’t already been doing and could quite possibly open the floodgates to further regulation (which, needless to say, harms the games we love and enjoy). So, for the love of all that’s good in gaming, support the industry and the ECA already!

  9. Darkelfguy your right on many of the points you stated especially the self regulation which has been fantastic at least in New York City where they’re always asking for id to verify age. Shoo even Best Buy asked me for id though i had a beard with some grey hairs at the time.

    I still see this as a bill though to protect the children with one more obstacle making harder to get their hands on it. If this bill does go the sour route with unfair restrictions then as others have stated i’ll be their to defend you guys and gals who have brought so much happiness in my life.

    Thanks for the excellent information and very indepth response Mr Darkelfguy :)