Games and Free Speech

As many of you are probably aware, there is a case headed to the Supreme Court regarding California’s controversial law to limit the sale of games to minors. Here’s a quick link that I dug up about the initial injunction. As part of protesting this law and making sure our voices are heard, the Video Game Voters Network is organizing a day of action and asking people to post the following to Facebook. Facebook is stupid, so I’m posting here.

I believe video games deserve the same First Amendment protection as other forms of entertainment. Stand with me and the Video Game Voters Network on 11/2 as the Supreme Court Decides the future of games.

Video games deserve first amendment protection. They are speech despite coming in forms great and small, wise and stupid. At the same time, I am the first to tell you that there are many objectionable games out there. I don’t play the Grand Theft Auto series. I find it morally reprehensible. It’s not a type of entertainment that I choose to engage in. I also don’t watch the Saw, Hostel, or any sort of graphic horror movies for the same reason.

Despite the existence of questionable content, it’s not the government’s role to regulate the media that we consume. Those choices belong to all the adults in this nation, and hence censorship laws are often enacted to protect children. For children, however, it’s the parents’ responsibility to limit these choices not the nanny state. At my dojang, I’ve frequently advised parents on whether games are suitable for their children (the answer is usually no since kids want what they can’t have), and in the absence of an expert there ratings with explanations on every box. I encourage everyone to let their voice be heard.

Censorship of speech is never the answer. dba


One Response to “Games and Free Speech”

  1. This whole free speech debacle has been popping up in most of my game related RSS feeds, I fully agree with you that it’s the parents responsibility to raise and educate their kids not the state or the media.

    I think that games should definately have a rating at the back of the box, stating a recommend age for the game as well as a list of any objectionable content within the game, it is the parents’ choice on whether they feel the game is suitable for their kids. Parents know their kids best and can judge whether a specific kid is mature enough for a specific video game.

    My parents were never strict when it came to what sort of media I was exposed to, I was allowed to play any game I wanted or watch any movie I wanted but my parents taught me from an early age what was right and wrong. I always knew even as a kid that books, games and movies were just a fantasy escape.

    Kids are going to do the things they want to anyways, whether you like it or not. So I think it’s a smarter option to let them do what they want with your knowledge and discuss their activities with them rather than pulling the “you’re not allowed to do this” card and retiring to good parenting fantasy land (you know, the place where kids do as they are told).

    I think this topic relates not to just games but pretty much any activity kids get up to in general. Rather than restrict them be supportive of their interests and be a moral compass for them, let them know subletly that playing an ultra violent video game can be lot of fun but its just fantasy and thats where it needs to stay.

    I got a lot of my teenage angst out through counterstrike, call of duty and various RPGs. Hell, my dad installed doom for me and showed me how to play when I was around 9yrs old. I’ve never once felt the urge to resort to violence in real life.

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