Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill into law that will make the sale of violent video games to minors illegal in California. Breaking the law could lead to up to $1,000 fine for retailers.
"Exposing minors to depictions of violence in video games, including sexual and heinous violence, makes those minors more likely to experience feelings of aggression, to experience a reduction of activity in the frontal lobes of the brain, and to exhibit violent antisocial or aggressive behavior," the bill states. "Even minors who do not commit acts of violence suffer psychological harm from prolonged exposure to violent video games."
The bill defines a violent video game as one that offers players the option to kill, maim, dismember, or sexually assault an image of a human being in a way that is "especially heinous, cruel, or depraved" or in a way that appeals to the "deviant or morbid interests" of a minor, is offensive to the community regarding what is decent for a minor, and is devoid of artistic or other value. This vague wording could make it difficult for the law to not be overturned.
Similar bills have been passed or are pending in several other states, but the Video Software Dealers Association and others have successfully challenged similar laws in other states. A recent case in Washington declared a law that fined retailers for selling or renting games to minors that displayed harm to law enforcement officers unconstitutional. The ruling was based on the idea that video games are a form of protected speech and that the obscecnity law did not cover non-sexual forms of violence.
We are almost certain that this law will not stand, but keep checking back to Cheat Code Central as the story unfolds.