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Brown Vs EMA Proves Games are Protected Speech
By: thepausemenu (June 27, 2011 At 3:20 pm EDT)
The Supreme Court of the United States has sided with the videogames industry, declaring it the winner in the EMA (Entertainment Merchants Association) vs Brown case that has gone on for six years.

The vote in the case, which argued over the constitutional rights of a law which would have have governed the sale of videogames to minors, came in at a 7-2 ruling against California. 7-2 that is a surprising landslide number!

Now a lot of you who have been on ThePauseMenu for months now have heard this battle as Schwarzenegger Vs EMA. It was written by California senator Leland Yee and was passed into law by then-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger back in 2005. Schwarzenegger’s name was removed from the case name after Jerry Brown took over as governor.

Ken Levine, the man behind Bioshock, points out that all of our freedoms derive from the right to express ourselves.

"Today, the Court brought the medium we love fully into that circle of freedom," he said. "And we move forward empowered, but also with a sense of responsibility that words have meaning. So we as creators will choose our words with respect, understanding their power. But no law will have the authority to choose them for us."

Now what can this mean for the future of gaming? Will we continue to see the same ratings and content or will publishers and developers try and push the envelope that has given them their freedom back? All I know is the Video Game Industry has won a major victory today!


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Matty Watermark image
Posted June 27, 2011 At 2:30 pm CDT
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This is frustrating news to me. My blog post about making ESRB legally enforceable already explains how I feel about this, but now I want to make a different point.

People are way too focused on something that didn't even come into question in this case: censorship. All this policy would have done is make the already-existing ratings legally enforceable. Many stores already restrict sales; they would have had to do it by law if this had been decided the other way. This decision would have censored absolutely nothing! Content would have been allowed to be unchanged, but there would be a requirement on sales to minors.

A major victory? Maybe for people who want to sell their content to anybody they wish. This is certainly not a major victory for our children. If you need to know why I feel this way, read my blog entry: http://www.gaming-unleashed.com/Pages/showblog.php?blog_id=217

thepausemenu 
Posted June 27, 2011 At 3:33 pm EDT
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Free Speech has won today. I am elated. I'm glad our judicial system can still work for the fair and just.

Matty Watermark image
Posted June 27, 2011 At 2:46 pm CDT
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Free speech? This had absolutely nothing to do with censorship, as I posted above. This had to do with regulation of sales. People who spew this unrelated drivel are why these stupid misconceptions happen all the time. The content would have remained the same if this ruling had gone the other way; games just would not be allowed by law to be sold to minors.

thepausemenu 
Posted June 27, 2011 At 3:59 pm EDT
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It is an action of commerce. You give people the option to by product A and product B. They can buy either or both. they can even pass up both products.

Product A is rated for children under the age of 15. Its got nice colors and good music
Product B has bad languange, violence, gore, war scenarios, but also has nice music and colors.
Both products are $60.

Its the freedom of choice that allows us to pick what we want. So what if a parent buys product B for their 16 year old. So what if a 66 year old wants to buy Product A.

Freedom of speech and choice teaches us what we like, what we can do, what are limits are, what we can and cant handle. If were regulated to only do one thing life would become stagnant. Not fun.

I'll say it til i die. Video Games nad Film are an outlet and a pathway from the creator's mind to yours. A form of artistic expression that delivers something other media cannot. I am proud to be a part of this industry.

AlexPuma Watermark image
Posted June 27, 2011 At 7:11 pm CDT
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This really isn't a free speech issue IMO. Personally, I think games should just be treated equally when it comes to restricting content. I want my theoretical 10-year-old son watching Saw or playing God of War, and I want it to be difficult for him to acquire it without my permission. It should all be up to the parent's discretion.

This isn't a victory for free speech at all, but more of a neutral ruling. Treating it as such is looking at the world in black and white goggles. Kids weren't meant to play Duke Nukem Forever, and I wouldn't really care if they were restricted by law from buying it.

Matty Watermark image
Posted June 27, 2011 At 7:14 pm CDT
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You make some very solid points, and you're absolutely right: this is not at all a freedom of speech issue. That's what I've been trying to say about it all along, but nobody seems to understand.

AlexPuma Watermark image
Posted June 27, 2011 At 7:29 pm CDT
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One other thing to add, the ESRB and most stores are very good at self policing themselves that I don't see the need for the government to step in to police game sales. So, I'm happy with the ruling, just to make things clear.

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