California’s Attempt to Ban Sales of Violent Video Games to Minors Loses in Supreme Court

My second novel, Dead Game, features the popular online gaming culture, an activity in which players usually assume fake identities and live in a fantasy world.  In Dead Game, some of the men and women who engage in a virtual murder mystery find themselves the victims of very real crimes. 

My state of California recently made an attempt to keep some of the bloodier and more explicit video games out of the hands of children, perhaps in part out of concern that actual crimes or acts of aggression could eventually occur.  But, the Supreme Court decided that such a measure would infringe on the First Amendment rights of young people.

Currently, there is a voluntary rating process that the gaming industry can use on its products in order to provide some guidance for parents.  But, California and several other states have argued that this information is not enough and that government must intervene to protect kids from graphic images.  The justices, however, determined it should be left in the power of parents and other adults purchasing the games for children to decide if the violence or sexual overtones are too much to bring into their homes.

The two justices who offered a dissenting opinion in this case argued that the First Amendment does not extend to speech (specifically, in this instance, violent images) directed at kids that does not first go through the filter of a parent’s permission.  So, there should be nothing wrong with requiring an adult to make the purchase.

The kids in 2011 certainly aren’t playing Pac Man and Donkey Kong anymore.  What are your thoughts on the abundance of graphic video games out there today? 

Should there be a ban on the purchase of these products by minors, or should that decision be left out of the government’s hands?

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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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2 Responses to California’s Attempt to Ban Sales of Violent Video Games to Minors Loses in Supreme Court

  1. GABixler says:

    Jennifer, I have been in recent discussions about this topic…I think games, television and motion have gone to “the shock value” to gain new audiences. To me it is so scary, that I’ve stopped watching some of my former television crime drama shows…it is just too much! And I’m a retired adult with a whole lifetime behind me to help made informed decisions and choices. My niece routinely asks me to read books for her daughter (if she doesn’t have time) to decide whether they are suitable. But parents, even if they care, do not have the time to test run every single thing that comes out, especially if they come as gifts to their kids. I think there should not only be a formal grading system but it should be publicize and penalized if not followed…

    Now, shall we talk about the sexualized versions of those games…

    Sex and Violence–our kids see it toooooooo soon! We all see tooooooo much of it!


  2. Thanks GABixler for your comments. I’m in agreement with you. I’ve seen some of these games and some make me cringe. That may seem strange because I write about serial killers and crime fiction, but I have been criticized that my books are too tame and a few readers wanted more graphic details. I purposely don’t write every graphic detail (which I easily could) because I feel that the psychological aspect is often scarier to the storyline. Is that what entertainment has come down to? Like you said, “shock value”. I hope that parents can at least look at the ratings of these games and understand exactly what violence (or even sex) is included in these particular games. I think most people would be suprised. As with anything in the world today, be informed, take a stand, and know what your kids are watching and playing.


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