Victory for Freedom of Speech

For 6 years, the Californian government has been trying to pass a law which would essentially make it a criminal offense to sell adult games to minors. It would have had far-reaching implications and would have cost the games industry a massive blow to its creativity and way of thinking. Needless to say, its not the idea of keeping kids away from adult games we disagree with, merely the absurd notion that blanket-banning everything is the correct way of dealing with the issue – something most anti-gaming politicians seem to want. Luckily, common sense and justice has prevailed because the Supreme Court overturned the proposed law yesterday and we can carry on shooting zombies in peace.

It’s all to do with freedom of speech – art and literature can and should be free to express whatever ideas we like to an extent, and the only reason this 6-year battle has waged is because videogames are the youngest, least understood form of it. From now on, games should be protected in the same way other forms of expression are, like books and films. If this law had been approved, it would have meant game developers would have had to think very carefully about making mature games, because there’d be a lot more hoops to jump through in order to actually sell them. The same argument crops up again and again throughout history, and the end result has always been the same. What pisses me off is that the people responsible for suggesting the ban don’t seem to have any real understanding of the subject they are arguing about.

Kotaku have a bunch of interesting articles about the whole thing, including some reactions from a few of the big names in gaming. It’s all well worth reading if you want to know more. I’m just relieved I can continue to enjoy the games I love, and the developers can continue to make them.

Ken Levine, the maker of Bioshock, sums it all up very elegantly: “Today, the Court brought the medium we love fully into that circle of freedom. 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.”

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