Video games protected under First Amendment

— 1:46 PM on June 4, 2003

An appeals court has overturned a ruling that had originally denied video games protection under the First Amendment. Honestly, the rationale behind the original ruling was pretty ridiculous, so it was only a matter of time:

Limbaugh, who is related to conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, said in his ruling he found "no conveyance of ideas, expression or anything else that could possibly amount to free speech. ... Video games have more in common with board games and sports than they do with motion pictures."
The assumption that all video games are that vacuous was criticized by many and now an appeals court has agreed. In fact, the appeals court apparently has no problem upholding free speech rights for even action-packed games with only the thinnest veil of narrative content. Since the mindless violence of action movies with little dialog and even less storyline is protected under the First Amendment, so should even action-centric video games.

Some have questioned whether this successful appeal will help overturn new laws that prevent the sale of violent video games to minors, but I'm not sure that argument will go far in the courts. After all, no one questions cinemas that don't admit minors to R-rated movies. I see no reason why video games purchases should be exempt from age restrictions; especially as many developers quite plainly state that their games are intended for adult audiences only.

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