Gamer Demonstration Planned For First Amendment Rights

Illustration for article titled Gamer Demonstration Planned For First Amendment Rights

On November 2, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association and Entertainment Software Association. This is a landmark case for gaming and the court, and gamers can stand up for what the believe in.

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The Entertainment Consumers Association is planning a demonstration that will be held on November 2 before the hearings get underway.

"This will be a historic day for gamers and the video game industry as a whole, and we greatly appreciate everyone who has taken action on this pivotal issue," said Jennifer Mercurio, Vice President and General Counsel for the ECA said in an official statement. "Video games, like any other form of entertainment, should be protected under our First Amendment and now is the time to stand up and let our collective voices be heard."

The ECA is a non-profit group that represents the interests of gamers in the US and Canada.

As noted by Entertainment Software Association president Mike Gallagher in a Kotaku guest editorial, the case seeks to restrict minors from buying and renting games that the state has deemed having "unacceptable violence". The case is ultimately about more than what games minors can and cannot buy. It's about the First Amendment. As Gallagher explains, this case could impact other types of entertainment and art.

"Books, movies, music, even general news reporting could be next on the censorship list," he writes. "They all contain violence. How can you restrict one media and not another?"

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The rally will begin at 9:00 EST on November 2 at the United States Supreme Court building, which is located on 1 First Street, NE, Washington D.C. Those interested in participating in the gamer rally may RSVP here.

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DISCUSSION

Interestingly and suprisingly I find myself agreeing with Arnie somewhat on this... I never realised that the system in the US was that ratings were only guides and not actual restrictions.

In the UK if a movie is an 18 a minor is not allowed to buy it or see it in the cinema. Why should this be different with games? Should a 10 year old be able to go and buy porn?

The more I think about it the more I think the American system is harming various industries... As the producer of a huge percentage of the medias we love and as a massive market themselves the market there obviously has a lot of say in a products release. Take, for example, Man Hunt 2. If it had been released in US under an AO rating then places wouldn't have stocked in many stores because of the stigma attached to the AO rating. Same with loads of movies. Fox are pushing for the new Alien prequel to not be R rated for similar reasons.

In gaming what is the theoretical difference between Mature and AO? Simply a year in the recommendation of 17 and 18 years old respectively. Yet in reality anything released AO is completely crippled as a marketable product by it's stigma.

What this means is that there are in effect only two true ratings in the US; "minors can watch/play" and "minors can't watch/play". This black and white division means that everyone will try and sneek their products in to the all encompassing category where as if there were real, strict and followed ratings then studios could make games/movies that were accessible to those 18+ while not having to worry about a backlash of parents moaning that their 12 year old went to see it.