All You Need To Know About This Week's Violent Video Game Case In The U.S. Supreme CourtStephen Totilo11/01/10 10:40amFiled to: Schwarzenegger vsviolent video gamesPCMacPS3WiiDsPSPXbox 360OriginalTopJezebelGawker TVio9Gizmodo9921EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkThe United States Supreme Court hears its first ever case about video games this week. The stakes are high. Here's what is happening and why it's happening.AdvertisementThe United States Supreme Court is hearing that video game case this week, right? Right. The State of California vs. The Entertainment Merchants Association and Entertainment Software Association (aka "The Video Game Industry"). Oral arguments begin at the Supreme Court in front of Justices Roberts, Thomas, Kagan and the rest on Tuesday at 10am ET.What's it about, again? Whether violent video games should be treated like pornography — in other words, whether there can be a type of violent video game that would be legal to sell to adults but illegal to sell to kids.AdvertisementOh, like R-rated movies? No, not like R-rated movies. It's legal in the United States for a kid to go see an R-rated movie, even if it's against the rules set forth by the movie industry. The only kind of movies that are illegal for kids to see are obscene ones (they're illegal for anyone to sell to anyone of any age). Those movies would fall under a special category defined by the Supreme Court in the late 60s for certain kinds of sexual material. California wants violent video games to be treated like that extreme sexual content, something no violent movies, books or magazines are subject to.So who got the idea that violent video games should be treated like Hustler magazine? The government of California and a bunch of other states. They've been trying to get this on the books for much of the past decade.What did video games ever do to them? In the middle of the last decade, California assemblyman Leland Yee, a child psychologist, picked up on an effort across several states to try to criminalize the sale of really violent video games. He says he did this because he believes ultra-violent games can harm kids in ways other forms of violent entertainment can't. He wrote a bill in 2005 that would fine a retailer $1,000 for selling really violent games to kids. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed it into law later that year.SponsoredSo it's been illegal in California to sell violent games to children? Nope. The video game industry sued, as they had in many other states, and got the law blocked from taking effect. Two tiers of courts have since said, as they had in other states, that the law violated the Freedom of Speech guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.All this mention of "really violent video games." Which "violent video games" would this law have pertained to? Yee and his allies often describe passages from 2003 game Postal 2, which does contain a lot of heinous content.California would go after Postal 2 and what else? Not God of War or Call of Duty, right It's hard to say, but the California law does include the following standards, which the government would use to determine which games should be illegal for kids to buy:Advertisement(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. (B) Enables the player to virtually inflict serious injury upon images of human beings or characters with substantially human characteristics in a manner which is especially heinous, cruel, or depraved in that it involves torture or serious physical abuse to the victim.That first part seems familiar. It should ring a bell, if you pay attention to law. It's pretty much the Miller Test which was established in the 1970s to determine if something is obscene.Hmmm. I wonder if anyone who plays video games would agree that there are games that "lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors." Probably not.Why is the Supreme Court getting involved in this? Great question, one that the video game industry, which is defending the case would surely love to know. They've been on a perfect win streak so far. Court after court has struck down the California attempt and those of other states to ban the sale of really violent video games to kids. But in April, the Court agreed to hear the case, so surely they think something here needs another look. This is the final chance for those in the California/Yee camp to win, to essentially score a knockout after losing every round of the fight.