The Supreme Court of the United States recently decided to review the California Law that would regulate the sale of video games to minors. There is a 10 court precedent that is in favor of the video game industry which means that the Supreme Court would most likely rule in favor of the video game industry as well.
But if they do, will that be the end of all such legislation? My answer is no. I base this off of what has happened in Oklahoma.
In 2006, the Oklahoma Governor signed into law a bill that would make it illegal to sell violent games to minors. This law was immediately challenged by the video game industry and ruled unconstitutional. I won’t go into details about why as the reasons were the same as all prior and subsequent laws.
Was that the end of this legislation? No.
Shortly after the bill was struck down in court, a new bill was introduced that would force video game retailers to distribute literature with all game sales that explained that violence in games can have harmful effects on children. There were several problems with this bill. For one, there is no such causal link between violent games and any harmful effects. For two, the bill required that this literature was to be passed out with all game sales, not just the violent ones.
This bill never made it to a vote and was not introduced the following session.
In 2009, Oklahoma began to consider the prospect of providing tax incentives to game developers. Oklahoma already provided incentives to the film and television industries. A good idea to begin with.
Unfortunately, supporters of prior attempts to regulate game sales injected this bill with restrictions on which games can apply for incentives. A game company cannot apply for incentives on funds spent in the creation of M and AO rated games. This restriction is not reflective of anything in the language for film and television incentives.
This bill has not made it out of committee for the last two session due to Oklahoma’s budget shortfall.
This is just one state’s reaction to having their regulatory law struck down as unconstitutional. Will California be any different? Will the federal government be any different? There are people in our governments and people in positions to influence government officials that still feel that games should be regulated in some way. So it will not end any time soon.
Eventually the attempts will stop. Eventually the cries of distrust of the games industry will subside. Yet, there will be a stigma associated with games for many years just as there still is for Rock and Roll and Dungeons and Dragons.