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Violent video game laws in question

The US Supreme Court ruled in June of 2011 against California’s ban on the sale of violent video games to minors. The law would have put $1,000 fines on stores that sold violent video games to those under 18.

The ruling highlights what is a much larger national and international debate about the effect of violent video games on youth, and the question of whether such games should be regulated.

The California law defined violent games as those ‘in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being’ in a way that was ‘patently offensive,’ appealed to minors’ ‘deviant or morbid interests’ and lacked serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.’’  Accepting that this description of violent video games may be true, the debate about banning them relates largely to the limits of free speech and government censorship.

Should the government be involved in limiting speech regarding violence toward youth? Can violent images be considered “obscene” in the same way as sexual imagery, and thus receive the same age-restricted regulation? Are video games an entirely new medium stretching beyond the ordinary boundaries of “speech” due to their ability to engage players in virtual acts of violence and murder?

Does this kind of engagement pose risks to youth– maybe encouraging them to emulate the acts they see in these games? What do you think? Is the government trying to become too forceful and regulatory? Looking at games today, they do have a rating system that does warn and requires someone over the age of 17 to purchase the game.  But doesn’t that mean that it’s really up to the parent whether or not they purchase the game? Or would it just be easier to ask an older brother or sister to buy them?

You decide.

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