US Supreme Court Rules in Favor of EMA

By Jonathan Barnes, 5 years ago
Gamers everywhere (in the United States) can breathe a sigh of relief this morning as the United States Supreme Court ruled 7-2 against California's Law that would have greatly restricted the sale of violent video games and levied harsh punishments on retailers who sell them to minors.

The case, Brown v. EMA (formerly Schwarzenegger v. EMA), was determining whether California Civil Code sections 1746-1746.5 was constitutional. The law, if upheld, would have imposed a $1,000 fine (per incidence) if a retailer sold a "violent video game" to a minor.

"What does 'violent video game' mean," you may ask?

"Don't we have 'M' rated games for a reason," you may follow up?

Well, I'm glad you're wondering, because here is the "official" definition of a "violent video game" as per California's law:

(1) "Violent video game" means a video game in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being, if those acts are depicted in the game in a manner that does either of the following:(A) Comes within all of the following descriptions:

(i) A reasonable person, considering the game as a whole, would find appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors.

(ii) It is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the community as to what is suitable for minors. (iii) It causes the game, as a whole, to lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.
So, in essence, this law would have greatly reduced the ability to make and sell popular gaming franchises such as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and Battlefield.

All of those worries are OVER, though, as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said on behalf of the court:

The act forbidding sale or rental of violent games to minors does not comport with the 1st Amendment.
So, once again, today marks a HUGE victory for gamers and defenders of the 1st Amendment.

If you're interested in reading all 92 pages of the ruling feel free to click the external link.
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.