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What Do Readers Think of Violent Video Games?

Residents weigh in on the U.S. Supreme Court's strike down of a California law that would make it illegal to sell or rent violent video games to minors.

We've all seen the commercials for the latest video game promising of bigger explosions, more innovative ways to kill enemies and deadlier weaponry for maximum carnage.

The games are readily available at places such as and in Redwood City, and have many local kids buzzing. They have come under the microscope of state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, who wrote a law in 2005 that would make ban the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

But today, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 7-2 vote, struck down the California law that banned the sale or rental of violent video games to children under the age of 18.

The court majority said the games are protected by the First Amendment right of free speech.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, "Like protected books, plays and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas—and even social messages.

"That suffices to confer First Amendment protection," Scalia wrote.

"Media purchases by minors should be a parental responsibility and not a government responsibility," said local Patch blogger and parent Georgia Jack. "Parents should be the gate keepers to determine what is/isn't appropriate for their child based on age, maturity, interests, etc."

Redwood City Patch columnist Lorianna Kastrop also added, "Teenagers listen to explicit songs on iTunes, and see television shows and movies that have content I don't approve of. Where do you draw the line? As a parent, I think you can control some of it, by not paying money for games, music, DVDs, etc. that you don't want in your house. To some extent, though, you can't cut them off from the rest of the world."

But local Patch columnist and Redwood City parent Nicole Cannon argued, "So it's illegal to sell pornography to minors but it isn't illegal to sell violence to them? I'm not advocating selling pornography to minors, but why is violent media protected but pornography isn't?"

The court ruled in a lawsuit filed in federal court in San Jose in 2005 by two industry groups, the Entertainment Merchants Association and the Entertainment Software Association.

The high court upheld rulings by U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte of San Jose in 2007 and the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco in 2009 that struck down the law.

The 2005 law was authored by Lee, who was then an assemblyman. It was blocked from going into effect by an injunction issued by Whyte.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Kenny Vogel June 27, 2011 at 07:42 PM
Interesting article, Stacie, thanks!! One thing's for sure, the type of video games have evolved since the days of Tetris, pong, and the original Super Mario Bros!

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