Retired Supreme Court Justice Enters the Game Biz (in a Dignified Way)

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (left), recently retired from the U.S. Supreme Court, spoke at the Games for Change Conference in New York City yesterday.

As reported by Alison Stein Wellner of the Huffington Post, Justice O’Connor spoke of her involvement in the development of Our Courts, a game described on its website as "an interactive online civics curriculum that will be free to all users."

Among Justice O’Connor’s remarks, as reported by Wellner:

If you had told me when I retired from the Supreme Court, just about two years ago, that I would today be speaking at a digital game conference, I would have been very skeptical. I’d maybe think you had had one drink too many.

Justice O’Connor’s unlikely move into game development began over concerns about "vitriolic attacks" on judges by politicians and members of special interest groups. Wellner writes:

In response to this concern, O’Connor and Justice Stephen Breyer together convened [Fair and Independent Courts: A Conference on the State of the Judiciary] and from this an "overwhelming consensus emerged": public education was required, not only to preserve an independent judiciary, but to preserve "a robust constitutional democracy." Very small stakes, no big deal. From this, the decision was made to create an online interactive curriculum for use in the classroom, and a free online game that kids will want to play in their free time.

So, will we be soon be raiding with Justice O’Connor’s WoW guild or trading lead with her in multiplayer matches GTA IV anytime soon? Don’t count on it:

I don’t play video games. Sorry.

Reuters has a bit more, including this comment from Justice O’Connor:

If we can capture just a little bit of [young people’s] time to get them thinking about government and civic engagement rather than playing shoot-’em-up video games, that’s a huge step in the right direction.


Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. Tye The Czar says:

    If tax dollars were put into the megahit America’s Army, why not for a better thing like educational games?

  2. DavCube ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    "If we can capture just a little bit of [young people’s] time to get them thinking about government and civic engagement rather than playing shoot-’em-up video games, that’s a huge step in the right direction."

    This is the only part i have a problem with. Basically because the only people who playing ‘shoot-em-up’ games (which i’ll bet she’s non-intentionally misclassifying) that DOESN’T have any sort of interest in that area usually aren’t old enough to vote yet. Everyone else knows a decent amount.

  3. Thad says:

    Good for Justice O’Connor.  Our judiciary has rhetorically taken it on the chin lately, with attempts to enforce the Constitution dismissed as "judicial activism" or "legislating from the bench".

    Nice to see that in retirement she’s still fighting the good fight.

  4. Ace_of_Sevens ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    An independent judiciary is what keeps the constitution protected when politicians try to have their run of the place.  Keep that in mind next time someone tries to ban GTA.  This game is apparently aimed at makign sure people understand that rather than yelling about judicial activism.

  5. Guy says:

    Well there have been videogames about law or law enforement that have been popular. *cough* Phoenix Wright *cough*

  6. Aliasalpha says:

    "an interactive online civics curriculum" is a pretty dull description, then again I suppose I should be happy not to have it described as "LAWMAKER XTREME!" or something equally sad.

  7. DarknessDeku! says:

    Yeah, and watch all the extreme Christians scream and throw a fit over it!  That would be a great idea, though.

  8. DarknessDeku! says:

    I’m all for it.  At least she is taking games seriously and not trying to ban them.

  9. TheEdge says:

    Hey,I’ve been into politics since I was 13,and I’m 15 now.

    No one really wants to play games for politics,they play for the escape from the political system.


  10. EvilleNSI ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    They do have a civil war FPS. Made by the History Channel.

    Eh, at least she understands that something in the form of digital interactive entertainment may be a way to reach younger people. She’s not dismissing it off handedly. Good for her.

  11. Jabrwock says:

    I think as a joke, someone once made a mod for UT that gave you muzzle-loaders…

    There was also a "Jamestown" RPG, a mod some school made for Neverwinter Nights.

    — If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap…

  12. Belgarion89 says:

    Dude, a Civil War FPS would most completly fail.  Imagine loading your weapon more than you shoot it.  Imagine not hitting anything over roughly 100m.  The 1600’s thing would be cool though, although I think they call it Sid Meier’s Pirates!.


    So speak I, some random guy.

  13. Pixelantes Anonymous says:

    Teaching religion (well, Christianity) through an RPG where you play Jesus Christ would have been SO much better than reading about it in the books.

    I am frankly quite surprised nobody’s done that yet. The early history of Christianity is filled with stuff that would translate extremely well to video game format. Instead they produce crap like Left Behind.

  14. Ace ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Who knows, maybe this civics game will be about citizens taking it on themselves to rid the world of the evil influence of the undead dragon kings of Leng featuring massive raid style dungeons, a slew of weapons and items to better combat civic injustice.

    Could happen…I’d play it atleast.

    When will they learn to package authentically worthwhile study material with plenty of gore, action and interesting bits which still makes you learn something. Imagine a historcially accurate FPS game where you play through the civil war or a RPG set in the historic 1600’s. You don’t need alot of yarn to spin that into something fun! And that’s just history. There’s loads of studies that could be meshed with established gaming conventions to create a learning experience that doesn’t "feel" like a study game, you know what I mean?

  15. Adamas Draconis says:

    Actually this is a good idea. We might not have so many idiots trying to control what others do if they realized just what goes into making a law.

    Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

  16. NovaBlack. ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    ”If we can capture just a little bit of [young people’s] time to get them thinking about government and civic engagement rather than playing shoot-’em-up video games, that’s a huge step in the right direction.”


    err… says who exactly? sorry but thats an OPINION not fact. And the first step to getting ‘young people’ interested is not to force your assumptions on others.

  17. Monolith says:

    There is in fact already a civil war game for the Xbox 360.

    —Oh sure, its fine when a monkey does it. But when I throw barrels at an Italian plumber, they call it a hate crime! – Stephen Colbert

Comments are closed.