Even as the holiday shopping season approaches and video-game makers are poised to pounce with new blockbuster titles, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering arguments in Schwarzenegger v. EMA. The controversial case revolves around selling violent video games to minors.

If the court decides to uphold the California video-game violence law, anyone under 18 will remain unable to purchase or rent games that portray the “killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting of an image of a human being.” As it stands, the court appears split.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, and Antonin Scalia are among the justices who sympathized with the First Amendment rights of game makers, indicating that the state does not regulate violent comic books, rap music, or movies. But others, including Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor, seem to be leaning toward confirming the law championed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“This is not something that will likely have a strong impact on video-game sales,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner. “But its interesting that the court is looking at this, and it will be interesting to see what criteria they apply as they make the decision. It’s always a possibility once the supremes get involved that other states will adopt similar laws.”

Court of Public Opinion
What does the court of public opinion say about video-game violence? Parents should be most responsible for determining whether minors can buy or rent violent video games, according to a new nationwide survey conducted for the nonpartisan First Amendment Center.

The survey, conducted Oct. 29-30 by Gallup, asked how much responsibility parents, video-game manufacturers, government or retail or online stores should have for deciding whether children may buy or rent such games.
“The survey results show a clear majority of Americans see parents having the most responsibility for deciding whether violent video games ought to be purchased or rented by children, but a smaller majority also approve a government ban,” said Gene Policinski, vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center.

Minors Shouldn’t Play Violent Games
Specifically, 86 percent said parents should have a “great deal” of responsibility. Just four percent said parents should have no responsibility. Another 43 percent said video-game manufacturers and retail or online stores should have a “great deal” of responsibility, with less than 20 percent saying those groups should have no responsibility. And 28 percent said government should have a “great deal” of responsibility, with 26 percent saying no responsibility.

By a two-to-one margin, respondents would nonetheless permit laws such as California’s ban on sales or rentals to minors. Sixty-eight percent said government should be able to prevent sales or rentals of violent games to children under age 18, while 31 percent said it should not. Two percent were undecided.

Source: Jennifer LeClaire for

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