Game developer Daniel Greenberg (pictured) has authored a Washington Post opinion piece in which he argues that the Supreme Court should rule that videogames are free speech when it eventually rules on Schwarzenegger vs. EMA.
As a game developer, Greenberg called himself “disheartened and a little perplexed” at seeing games compared to cigarettes and alcohol by California State Senator Leland Yee, and he wondered “how government bureaucrats are supposed to divine the artistic value that a video game has for a 17-year-old.”
In describing newer games such as BioShock, Fable 2 and Fallout 3, Greenberg wrote:
In games such as these, game play becomes a powerful meditation on the nature of violence and the context in which it occurs. Some of the most thought-provoking game design is currently in Mature-rated games (similar to R-rated movies). This is because, in order to have a truly meaningful moral choice, the player must be allowed to make an immoral choice and live with the consequences.
And these are just single player gaming examples says the author, who added that the “expressive potential of video games jumps exponentially when players take interactivity online.”
Only parents or guardians should be allowed to govern a minor’s free speech said Greenberg, “And maybe his grandparents and aunts and uncles. But not Sen. Yee and Gov. Schwarzenegger.”
If California did manage to win the Supreme Court case, Greenberg painted a doom and gloom scenario of what might be in store for the videogame industry:
If California’s law is upheld, it is likely that far more onerous measures will appear all over the country. Some stores may stop carrying Mature-rated games. Game publishers might be afraid to finance them. Developers would not know how to avoid triggering censorship because even the creators of such laws don’t seem to know. The lawmakers won’t tell us their criteria, and their lawyers have refused to reveal which existing games would be covered, even when asked in court.
Thanks to Daniel for pointing us towards his piece (and BearDogg-X too!)