Scholars File Brief Opposing California Videogame Law

Eighty-two scholars and researchers signed their name to a brief voicing opposition to the California law at the center of Schwarzenegger vs EMA.

Noting that the issue now awaiting a Supreme Court ruling is subject to strict scrutiny because it attempts to regulate the sale of games based on content, the scholars’ brief argues that California has neither provided “substantial evidence” that games cause psychological or neurological harm to minors playing them, nor does the state “demonstrate that the restriction will ‘alleviate these harms in a direct and material way.’”

Additionally:

Indeed, California does not offer any reliable evidence, let alone substantial evidence, that playing violent video games causes psychological or neurological harm to minors. California confesses it cannot prove causation, but points to studies that it says show a “correlation” between the two. But the evidence does not even do that.

Furthermore, the brief states that California and Senator Yee “ignore a weighty body of scholarship undertaken with established and reliable scientific methodologies, debunking the claim that the video games California seeks to regulate have harmful effects on minors.”

The brief then systematically dispatches research cited by California, including that of Douglas Gentile, which was billed as “rife with methodological flaws”, and Craig Anderson, whose research was labeled as “no help to California.”

Research leveraged by Senator Yee was additionally labeled as reliant on a “one-page statement of scholars,” while his mentioning of “recent research,” “new data,” and “hundreds of studies” to back his claims were deemed “broad assertions,” with citations appearing “rarely.”

Those signing on to the brief included Texas A&M International University Assistant Professor Christopher J Ferguson and Harvard Medical School’s Cheryl Olson.

View or download the full brief (PDF) here.

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