The United States Supreme Court may decide whether to hear a landmark case affecting the sale of violent video games as early as next week, the California Attorney General's office told Kotaku today.
Before the highest court in the country is the decision whether to hear arguments regarding California's legal battle against the video game industry over the sale of violent games to minor. This is a battle that has been repeatedly won by the gaming side but still may be fought once more.
A decision to not hear the case would affirm California's previous judicial defeats and serve as another in a long line of gaming industry victories against state authorities trying to legislate against violent games.
But a decision by the Court to hear the case could open the gaming industry up to a possible decision that would turn the tables and enable the sale of violent games to minors to be restricted under the highest authority in the country.
The Supreme Court agrees to hear a small number of the cases of highest national or legal importance. A spokesperson for California Attorney General Jerry Brown's office told us that they expect a decision from the Court "as soon as next week."
The California fight began in late 2005 when the state's Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, signed into law regulations that would fine retailers of up to $1000 against people who sell intensely violent games to minors. While no such laws exist pertaining to the sale of violent movies or DVDs, state officials argued that extremely violent games could prove harmful to minors.
"We're not talking about violent video games," California assemblyman Leland Yee had said in an interview at the time. "We're talking about ultra-violent video games." The bill singled out games whose violence causes them to "lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors" as well as those whose violence "is especially heinous, cruel or depraved in that it involves torture or serious physical abuse to the victim." Yee and others maintained that such games were harmful to minors and could compel them to emulate the actions in the games.
The gaming industry's chief lobbying group, The Entertainment Software Association, which also hosts the annual E3 event, successfully got a judge in the state to first block the law and then deem it a violation of the First Amendment. An appeals court unanimously upheld that decision. Efforts by California to prove that violent games triggered violent reactions in children did not convince the courts.