More from California’s SCOTUS Brief

July 14, 2010 -

California outlined its case for a law that would make it a crime to sell violent videogames to minors in a 59-page brief filed on Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo managed to get his hands on some, or all, of the document and pulled out some of the more interesting pieces.

Once again, the actual text of the currently blocked law at the heart of Schwarzenegger v. EMA:

1. California Civil Code sections 1746-1746.5 (the Act) prohibit the sale or rental of "violent video games" to minors under 18. The Act defines a "violent video game" as one that depicts "killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being" in a manner that meets all of the following requirements: (1) A reasonable person, considering the game as a whole, would find that it appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors; (2) it is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the community as to what is suitable for minors, and; (3) it causes the game, as a whole, to lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors. The Act does not prohibit a minor's parent or guardian from purchasing or renting such games for the minor. Pet. App. 96a.

The Act provides for a penalty of up to $1,000 per violation, which may be lowered in the discretion of the court. The penalty does not apply to any person who is employed solely in the capacity of a salesclerk or other similar position, provided he or she does not have an ownership interest in the business in which the violation occurred and is not employed as a manager in the business. Pet. App. 98a.

Kotaku writes that the brief specifically mentions only a few videogames. Exhibit A in the brief however, is the Running with Scissors game Postal 2, which was released over seven years ago in 2003:

The ESRB gave this game a rating of M (Mature) and provides the following description: "Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Mature Humor, Strong Language, Use of Drugs."7 But the industry's attempt at self-regulation does not begin to describe the game's violent content. As demonstrated in Petitioner's Video Game Violence video compilation (lodged with the Court by Petitioners), the violence in Postal II includes torturing images of young girls, setting them on fire, and bashing their brains out with a shovel, for no reason other than to accumulate more points in the game. In one scene in Postal II, the player (who sees through the eyes of the shooter) looks through a scope on an assault rifle and sees a very realistic image of a person's face. The player then shoots the victim in the kneecap. As the player watches the victim attempt to crawl away, moaning in pain, the player pours gasoline on the victim and lights him on fire. As the burning victim continues to crawl, the player urinates on the victim, and says "That's the ticket."

 

After noting that it "smells like chicken," the player again looks at the victim through the scope on the gun, and again sees a realistic human face, on fire, crawling toward him. The player then shoots the victim in the face, which turns into charred remnants of a human image. In another scene, the player hits a woman in the face with a shovel, causing blood to gush from her face. As she cries out and kneels down, the player hits her twice more with the shovel, this time decapitating her. The player then proceeds to hit the headless corpse several more times, each time propelling the headless corpse through the air while it continues to bleed.

More excerpts can be found over at Kotaku, dealing with the lack of a direct link between “offensive material” and its “physical or psychological harm to minors,” First Amendment interpretations and equating sex with violence.


Comments

Re: More from California’s SCOTUS Brief

That Postal 2 exhibit is absolutely ****ing ridiculous - I'm not sure if it's a requirement for legal issues in this regard, but it is worded as if the player has to perform each individual action (As Mario, the player jumps up and onto the vulnerable turtle species) thus negating the fact that players have free will. Granted, that is specific to Postal 2, but plenty of other games are the same - the player is not forced to exterminate everyone in the airport level of Modern Warfare 2. It reads like someone who last experienced games in the 80s.

In Postal 2, in fact, you can go through the entire game without killing anyone if you keep running and avoid all combat (Correct me if there are any exceptions, it's been a while - and the crazy demon boss in the expansion doesn't count :). This exhibit suggests players are forced to horrifically kill people, except it's their choice.

Re: More from California’s SCOTUS Brief

You are correct.  Running With Scissors made a big point of saying it's only as violent as you are.  You can play through the entire game, complete all the missions, and not harm a fly.  It's quite a challenge really.

===============

Chris Kimberley

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Chris Kimberley

Re: More from California’s SCOTUS Brief

Postal² had points? I don't recall this.

Re: More from California’s SCOTUS Brief

No it does not have points but politicions think all games have points.

Re: More from California’s SCOTUS Brief

So because 1 M-rated game is gory it means that all M-rated game are like Postal 2? Yeah thats bs.

http://www.magicinkgaming.com/

Re: More from California’s SCOTUS Brief

I know that. But what they are doing is showing a game where you CAN do these things and telling people you have to do them as an argument againt M rated games in general. They are also bringing up the whole video game points thing. Seesh not many games have points anymore. More so FPS's.

Re: More from California’s SCOTUS Brief

The "reply" button.  Hit that if you want to reply to a specific comment.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: More from California’s SCOTUS Brief

As I said on Kotaku Postal 2 is NOT what all M rated games are like. That would be like showing people Hostal or Saw and saying ALL R rated movies are like this.

Re: More from California’s SCOTUS Brief

Doesn't really matter if they are or not.  Postal 2, Hostal, and Saw are not harmful to children so there's nothing to protect them from.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: More from California’s SCOTUS Brief

I don't know if you ever watcher Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles or not, but this is an interesting story about an episode that I watched when my son was 3.

We were watching the show and my son was playing around us and sitting in our laps. In the show there is a pretty fair amount of violence for a prime time network television show. Some killing and stuff.

My kid was not phased by any of that in the slightest. But at the end of the episode, the terminator forced a scientist to develop the flesh growing compound the terminator needed to recover his metal frame with human flesh. When the Terminator rose out of the bloody tub, its eyes were sealed shut. The Scientist used a scalpel to cut the eyelids open, revealing the terminator's glowing red eyes. That was when my son freaked out.

No amount of violence phased my son, but the site of those unnatural red eyes made it so that we had to cover up any red lights in the house for weeks.

I guess there isn't really a point to this story other than to share that there are things that scare kids but its not violence in general. But being scared does not equate to being harmed either.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: More from California’s SCOTUS Brief

I watched its run on the station's website.  For the most part, I quite enjoyed it too.  Shame it's not getting a third season.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: More from California’s SCOTUS Brief

 Yep, as long as there are no boobies our children are safe and retain their innocence.

 
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