George Rose hopes to have a front row seat in the nation's capital on Election Day. The executive vice-president of Activision Blizzard (ATVI), the world's largest independent game developer, doesn't have politics on his mind. He'll be watching the Supreme Court oral argument on Nov. 2 in a case that could cost his company billions.
The high court, in Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association and Entertainment Software Association, is weighing whether a 2005 California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors violates the First Amendment right to free speech. (The law has never been enforced due to legal challenges.) If the high court upholds the California ban, video game companies would be required to attach a 2-inch by 2-inch white label marked "18" on the front of a boxed game deemed too violent for minors. Retailers that violate the ban would be subject to fines of $1,000.
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Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association (PDF) — Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, rejecting claims that gruesome video games are somehow First Amendment free speech. The video game industry has surpassed Hollywood in revenue and influence and gore, unbeknownst to many parents. The image abuse being inflicted by the video game industry on addicted children is leading to violent behavior, wasted time, and wasted lives. Playing games is not free speech and California properly assisted parents by prohibiting the sale or rental of violent video games to children there. This amicus brief explains why the U.S. Supreme Court should uphold this pro-parent law and should reject the notion that an industry has a First Amendment right to disturb children with shockingly violent images in role-playing games.