Game Developer Argues for Free Speech in Post Editorial

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!)

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  1. 0
    Chris Kimberley says:

    You say that as if it’s something to aspire to.  Instead we should aim to accurately rate games and just not discriminate against them based purely on that rating.  If I want to play an AO game on my PS3 why shouldn’t I be allowed to?

    If we got rid of the stigma we would gain more range in the ratings system.  There are games that get an M but which I feel should probably have an AO, except they’d never get published if they did and rating it lower is likely the lesser evil.


    Chris Kimberley

  2. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    US stores (with the rare exception) already don’t stock AO games or NC17 movies so I don’t think it’s the specific age number but the stigma each rating has attached to it.  I say this because we have seen over and over that it’s not the content that retailers (and console manufacturers from the game licensing side) object to, it’s the rating.

    Also, I don’t think this country has a hatred of "18 and up mediums" but it is comparatively uptight when it comes to sexual content which is why you see Walmart, Nintendo and the rest shying away from making products with such ratings available, because they think Americans will look at such ratings, think porn, and raise a stink.


    Andrew Eisen

  3. 0
    Cheater87 says:

    I know I’m talking about how every other country is ok with 18 and up rating but its a social taboo in the US. Talking more about what this law will do. Since our country has such a hatred of 18 and up mediums then stores would mostly not stock them at all.

  4. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Ah, you’re talking about the AO rating.  Okay, I see what you’re saying.

    Sorry, I usually equate the M rating with other country’s 18 ratings.  To me, AO is closer to a classification refusal.


    Andrew Eisen

  5. 0
    Cheater87 says:

    Adult rated products not porn. Such as BBFC 18 movies and PEGI 18 games. But in the US ANY MEDIUM with an 18 and up rating is treated as porn and banned from sale due to companies wanting to protect their image.

  6. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Wait a minute, are you talking about adult products as in products meant for adults or sexual content specifically?  If it’s the former, I don’t agree with you at all for reasons stated in my previous post.


    Andrew Eisen

  7. 0
    Cheater87 says:

    I know but the stores and console makers still allow people to get the games. Plus game stores in Australia want an R18 rating and I’m sure that console makers will support it because stores will allow it.

  8. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    I wouldn’t say that considering 18 ratings are very often backed by law, Australia doesn’t even have an 18 rating for games, and many other countries are continually banning games for content.


    Andrew Eisen

  9. 0
    Cheater87 says:

    Some countires are more lenient with adult rated products being sold in stores. In the US its a MAJOR taboo because its seen as porn and porn is seen as vile here and not family friendly which most stores try to be. In Europe they are ok with adult rated products being sold in stores, an 18 age rating is seen as an adult rating and not a taboo rating and they are ok with that.

  10. 0
    Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:

    I´m waiting here in Mexico someone tries to make the same if the California´s law passes and other states on US passes it as well. If that happens in my country, there is no one who would actually care to do something against it, and basically, any desicion taken by our government is final. There is not appealling or anything.

    ———————————————————— My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship):

  11. 0
    PHX Corp says:

    Not to mention If the supreme court allows this, gamers May get killed by the govt in a similar holocaust like situation

    Watching JT on GP is just like watching an episode of Jerry springer only as funny as the fights

  12. 0
    Cheater87 says:

    This would also affect Europe since game developers would most likely make ONE censored game and not a censred US version and an uncensored European version. Canada will also end up getting what ever the US gets in terms of content.

  13. 0
    PHX Corp says:

    No, it may happen if games ar not free speech and thier supporters are declared by the court violent and peverse

    Watching JT on GP is just like watching an episode of Jerry springer only as funny as the fights

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