Game Execs: California Game Law Could Mess Things Up
That California game law that goes before the Supreme Court soon is certainly getting a lot of attention, and not just from annoyed gamers.
Game insiders, journalists, and executives are all banding together to fight what many are calling a ridiculously restrictive would-be law. The law would revisit a current California state mandate that would, if passed, restrict the sale of mature-themed games to minors but that's not really the problem. The problem is that, according to what EA CEO John Riccitiello told CNBC, certain retailers might stop carrying "M"-rated games (like how Wal-Mart censors music albums with the Parental Advisory label), thereby impacting sales. Furthermore, what if we had 50 different jurisdictions...? Said Riccitiello:
"...We could end up with state level bureaucracies that define what’s marketable in 50 different jurisdictions across the U.S. I can imagine [the government] trying to tell Steven Spielberg 'We need 50 different cuts of your movie for each state.' It will screw us up in a real way."
The law was originally written back in 2005 by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and state senator Leland Yee, but in 2007, the California Ninth Circuit Court found the law unconstitutional, ruling that video games are a form of free speech, which means they must be treated as all other forms of entertainment (movies, music, books, etc.). However, with the Supreme Court agreeing to review the law again this year, we could end up with government-mandated labeling guidelines rather than our standard self-regulated labels applied by the ESRB. The ESA (Entertainment Software Association) has already said they plan to fight the new attempt to pass the law. SCEA CEO Jack Tretton summed it up:
"I think the Supreme Court is looking at it to potentially see if there’s something to it or to put an end to it once and for all."
Everything should go before the court this summer so cross your fingers.
7/7/2010 10:52:46 AM Ben Dutka