Repost from “What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse” Join the conversation on the original post.

After much time in the supreme court, the case discerning the sale of violent video games to minors in California has come to a close. The verdict, “Court ruled 7-2 that the California law criminalizing the sale of ultra-violent games to minors was un-Constitutional.” Do I agree with this ruling, well, yup, I sure do.

A main argument made during the case was the comparison between violent video games and literature of a violent nature. During grade school children read books that depict extremely violent acts, and if they are allowed to read about these violent acts then they should be allowed to play out those violent acts in video game form. If it’s unconstitutional to ban the sale of violent books to children, then why should it be deemed constitutional to ban the sale of other violent forms of media to a minor. Well, I feel there is a bit of a difference between ripping the head of your nemesis off and spiking it to the ground in Mortal Kombat than reading about the boys of Lord of the Flies dropping a boulder on the Piggy knocking him off a cliff to his death. In Mortal Kombat the violence is fun and without remorse, in Lord of the Flies the violence is horrific and we learn about the characters regret for the murder as well as their motives for doing so. Also, being a person who does read quite a lot of books, I tend to find them to be much more immersive than video games.

When I’m reading a book I tend to become lost in the story, I feel as if I am actually there observing the story and characters. And when scenes of violence arise, my mind creates scenes that are more graphically violent than any game can produce. There is also the emotional level to reading too, when the character that I have been reading about kills or is killed, in the book world, I have gotten to know him/her better, I get attached, I have feelings, good or bad, about that character. The emotional impact of the violence against someone or something you know and have feelings toward is much deeper than the emotional impact of violence against someone or something you don’t know or don’t care about. And in the case of video games, it’s extremely rare that there is a character that the player connects with or become emotionally attached to.

The standard delivery method of narrative in games often doesn’t allow for that to happen, though at times, more recently in modern games, it does, Red Dead Redemption, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West for example. Ripping the head off Scorpion in Mortal Kombat has less of an impact on us because we are never given a chance to get attached to him, same for plowing through an onslaught of unnamed soldiers rushing to their doom in Call of Duty. But if we knew that Scorpion or one of those countless soldiers was a father and husband who loved his family their death would have more of an impact on us. Also, it’s often difficult to become attached to the standard game protagonists often depicted in violent video games, I’m sorry, but I can’t hold any sympathy for Meathead MrGruff, so watching him diced up into bits with a chainsaw becomes humorous due to that lack of giving a shit about him, John Marston(Red Dead) on the other hand…

So, ya, in the sense that if it isn’t constitutional to ban a violent book which is more emotionally impacting on the child, it should be the same for video games, that I agree with. It’s freedom of speech and all that. But what the book does with the violence is quite different than what the common blockbuster violent video game does. Lord of the Flies makes the violence horrific and turns the reader away from wanting to commit acts of violence by showing the dark side of it. Video games however, often glorify the violence making it seem like it’s not a big deal. I think one of those 2 is more destructive on a young persons mind. But this argument isn’t about which is right and wrong, it’s about constitutional and unconstitutional. In the Supreme Courts case, I feel they made the right decision.

It is required by law to have ratings on video games and also in addition to those rating there are markers that give a very brief summary of why that game is rated the way it is(eg. violence, gambling, nudity, use of drugs, ect.). Those rating help the parents decide what they will allow their children to play and not to play. Parents can also set up their household gaming machine with parental controls to block the use of mature rated games or games containing violence or nudity. The tools are readily available for parents to choose what their children can and can not play and should not be the governments job to decide what they can play. It’s also up to the retailer selling the game to decide whether or not they choose to sell a violent video game to a minor, it’s their conscience, not the governments. So, with all these tools in effect, why should the government have to step in? It’s easier to regulate what your kids play more than it is to regulate what your kids watch and read. I feel there is a bit of laziness on someones part, cough “parents” cough.

I could go on more on the subject given there are many more arguments to make on the subject, but rather than bore you lovely readers to death(that would be a cool MK fatality, lol) I’ll stop here. If you would like read more and see some of the arguments brought up during the case check out this article on Kotaku which chronicles the best for and against arguments during the case, a very interesting read. And more interesting to me is what you gamers out there feel about this subject. I don’t think this is the last we will see of someone trying to censor video games(how many books has someone tried to censor in the past?), so let your voices be heard(down in the comments 😉 )

Thanks for reading, Until Next Time, Peace Love and Video Games,

Atleastimhousebroken (AKA Matt)

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