Industry Leaders on Schwarzenegger v. EMA

July 6, 2010 -

Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick admits to being “worried” about the implications a Supreme Court ruling in favor of a California law at the center of Schwarzenegger v. EMA could have on the videogame industry as a whole.

Zelnick told CNBC he believes that “everybody in our business should be really worried about it.”

Other game industry suits worried that the law passing could lead to publishers needing to release multiple copies of a single game in order to satisfy the requirements of individual states. Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello said about such a situation becoming reality, “It will screw us up in a real way,” while Disney Interactive’s Graham Hopper added, “It’s going to make our retailing abilities a nightmare.”

Jack Tretton, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, hopes that the SCOTUS ruling will put an end to the drama, stating,, “I think the Supreme Court is looking at it to potentially see if there’s something to it or to put an end to it once and for all.”

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ECA Prez on Schwarzenegger vs. EMA

June 28, 2010 -

The Escapist’s Russ Pitts met up with Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) President Hal Halpin at this year’s E3 Expo for a discussion of the Schwarzenegger vs. EMA case, which has ended up in front of the Supreme Court.

After stating that a loss in the case could be “staggering and widespread,” in terms of its impact on gamers, Halpin was asked to describe the what's at stake in “broad strokes.”

He answered:

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ESA Chief on SCOTUS Case: Confident, Yet Humble

June 16, 2010 -

Entertainment Software Association (ESA) President Michael Gallagher is “humble” about how trade group might fare in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, as the nation’s highest court prepares to rule on Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) v. Schwarzenegger, which centers on a California law that attempts to make it illegal to rent or sell violent videogames to underage consumers.

In a pre-E3 briefing recounted by Joystiq, Gallagher said about the case, “We believe we're on the side of right here. We've believed that for 10 years. That hasn't wavered one iota. You go into this preparing to win, but also very prepared to handle the other conclusions as well”

ECA Encourages Gamers to Weigh in on Schwarzenegger v. EMA

May 12, 2010 -

In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to review Schwarzenegger v. EMA —a California law that would make it illegal to sell violent videogames to children—The Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) is launching a two-pronged initiative designed to show the Court exactly how gamers feel about their First Amendment rights.

The ECA plans to submit an amicus brief to the Court and has also launched an online petition that will urge the Court to hold videogames as free speech, protected under the First Amendment.

ECA President Hal Halpin stated:

Yee Backs Kagan

May 11, 2010 -

California State Senator Leland Yee (D - San Francisco), the man behind the original legislation that’s now made its way to the Supreme Court, has offered his thoughts on SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan.

Noting that Kagan has “argued for very limited exemptions to the First Amendment including areas of hate speech, pornography, military recruitment, and animal cruelty,” Lee said of the nominee:

I commend President Obama on the selection of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.  Ms. Kagan is well-qualified for this important post and should be immediately confirmed by the US Senate.  While championing First Amendment rights, she has correctly opined that there is a need for very narrow exceptions to protect society and children.


I look forward to her consideration of our law to ensure parents have a voice in determining which video games are appropriate for their children.


Yee: I Would Never Seek a Ban of Ultra-Violent Games

May 3, 2010 -

The Los Angeles Times recently peppered State Senator Leland Yee with a few questions about the original legislation he penned making it all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

Perhaps the best question posed to Yee asked how he could introduce legislation that would make it illegal to sell violent games to minors when he is not very familiar with games at all.

Yee answered:

That is a fair criticism. I'm not a player. But I have seen individuals who play these games. I have seen individuals using a baseball bat and bludgeoning a hooker to death, or taking a gun and shooting a cop. Those are the direct result of someone pushing a button and making a conscious decision. I can see that that kind of connection between your action and the consequent behavior is dangerous.

With a movie you can sit there for two hours and see everything. In these violent games, parents may never fully understand what they contain because you have to be a very sophisticated player to trigger them.

SCOTUS Decision Focus of Public Radio Discussion

April 28, 2010 -

Southern California Public Radio yesterday aired a 30-minute segment (MP3) on the California violent videogame law that will be discussed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

California State Senator Leland Yee appeared, and voiced much of the same opinions that he offered up through a mini-podcast his camp released yesterday. Representing the other side was Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) VP of Public Affairs Sean Bersell.

Bersell framed the current drama as he sees it:

Yee on SCOTUS Decision

April 27, 2010 -

California State Senator Leland Yee (D), the man behind the original legislation that has now made its way to the United States Supreme Court, released a short piece of audio (MP3 here) in which he offers reactions to SCOTUS’ decision to review the law.

Yee termed himself “thrilled” with yesterday’s news, calling it an “affirmation of some of the things that I have been thinking about, working on…”

He called the law a “balanced bill,” saying that “it tries to do what it can to protect and help kids, but at the same time, not trample on our First Amendment.”

Yee on the surprise most felt when hearing that SCOTUS would review the case:

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Breaking: SCOTUS Will Review Schwarzenegger v. EMA (Update 3)

April 26, 2010 -

Via Orders of the Court (PDF) just issued at 10:00 AM ET this morning, The Supreme Court of the United States has granted the petition for a writ of certiorari to the California side of Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) v. Schwarzenegger.

This means that the nation’s top court will indeed review a decision by the 9th Circuit Court of California in February of 2009, which struck down a California law that would make it illegal to rent or sell violent videogames to consumers under the age of 18. Retailers who violated the law would be subject to fines of up to $1,000.

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EMA v. Schwarzenegger Back on SCOTUS Radar

April 21, 2010 -

The nation’s highest court will gather this Friday in order to discuss, among other things, whether or not it should review a California law preventing the sale of violent videogames to children.

The Supreme Court’s website shows that Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) v. Schwarzenegger was “distributed for conference of April 23, 2010.” The order was dated April 20, 2010, giving more credence to popular thought that case number 08-1448 was shelved until a decision was reached on the First Amendment case of United States v. Stevens, in which the Court voted 8-1 that the government cannot outlaw expressions of animal cruelty.

SCOTUS Rules on Case that Could Lead to EMA v. Schwarzenegger Decision

April 20, 2010 -

The Supreme Court today issued a ruling on a First Amendment case that could have a direct impact on the Entertainment Merchants Association v. Schwarzenegger appeal which has been languishing in the nation’s top court.

United States v. Stevens centered on the rights of Robert Stevens to sell or traffic in media that depicted animal cruelty. Stevens was arrested under a 1999 law that attempted to forbid the depiction of cruelty against animals. SCOTUS ruled 8-1 that the government, per the SCOTUS Blog, “lacks the power to outlaw expressions of animal cruelty, when that is done in videotapes and other commercial media.” The decision (PDF) essentially nullifies the 199 law.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. wrote that the court “was not restricting the power of government to punish actual acts of animal cruelty,” but that “there was no similar history behind Congress’s attempt to ban video or other portrayals of acts of cruelty to living creatures.”

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Video Game Voter Network Hits 200K Users

March 31, 2010 -

The Video Game Voters Network (VGVN), an organization backed by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), announced that it has eclipsed the 200,000 member mark.

Launched in 2006, the VGVN bills itself as “a place for American gamers to organize and defend against threats to video games by registering to vote and letting Congress know how important this issue is to the community.” The organization said that it leveraged its user-base 46 times last year in order to get thousands of letters sent to politicians regarding political legislation.

Michael Gallagher, President of the ESA, had this to say about VGVN’s grass-root members, “They support their choice of entertainment by contacting elected officials and making their voices heard. Our industry is fortunate to have these dedicated individuals helping to preserve the rights of computer and video game consumers and makers.”

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Yee Pares Violent Games off Xmas List

December 3, 2009 -

If you are on the receiving end of a holiday gift from California State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) don’t expect to receive a violent videogame.

The Senator is urging parents and holiday shoppers to avoid the purchasing of violent games in the coming month, referring to their potentially harmful effect on minors.

“It is vitally important that parents and grandparents consider the content in video games before making holiday purchases,” said Yee.  “There is mounting evidence that ultraviolent video games have negative effects on children, and can cause real behavioral changes.”

Yee cited a Common Sense Media list of games to specifically avoid, which includes Manhunt, Resident Evil 4 & 5, Dead Rising, Grand Theft Auto IV & San Andreas, God of War II, Mortal Kombat: Deception, MadWorld, Gears of War and Saints Row 2.

He urged parents to avoid first and third-person “killing” games altogether and to check a videogame’s age rating and descriptors before purchasing.

A list of Common Sense Media approved games for the holidays can be found here.


Senator Yee Honored with FAC Award

October 23, 2009 -

The office of California State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) let us know that the politician has been honored by the First Amendment Coalition (FAC) with its Beacon Award.

The award recognizes Yee’s “legislation in support of government transparency and the rights of student journalists and their advisers.”

The original author of California’s videogame law, which is still sitting in appeal before the United States Supreme Court, said about the award:

There is little that I take greater pride in than our legislative efforts to increase transparency of government and protect the speech rights of California students.  With the help of the First Amendment Coalition, we have passed landmark open government laws.  Unfortunately, at times, we have also fallen victim to the Governor's veto pen.

Yee was one of four Beacon Award winners. Full details can be viewed here.


Supreme EMA v. Schwarzenegger Decision Within a Week

September 28, 2009 -

The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to address an appeal of a Californian videogame law tomorrow, September 29.

Entertainment Merchants Association v. Schwarzenegger (formerly known as The Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) v. Schwarzenegger), revolves around a Californian law that banned the sale of certain videogames to anyone under 18 years of age. First signed into law by Schwarzenegger in 2005, the law was rejected again in February of 2009 by the 9th Circuit Court of California, which upheld an earlier 2007 ruling that deemed the law unconstitutional.

Schwarzenegger and California Attorney General Jerry Brown appealed to the Supreme Court in May of this year, marking the first time a case involving the restriction of violent game sales to minors has ever been considered by the top court of the United States.

As part of the proceedings, The Supreme Court will also decide whether to accept the amicus brief filed by California State Senator Leland Yee (D) in July of 2009. In the brief, Lee, who authored the original statute at the center of the whole case, argues why the Supreme Court should approve the state of California’s petition for a full hearing. He was supported in the brief by the California Psychiatric and California Psychological Associations.

The Supreme Court’s decision could take a few days or more. A final decision should be made public by next Monday, October 5.

Update: Just to clarify, The Supreme Court did consider a similar topic when ruling on American Amusement Machine Association et al. v Kendrick et al. in 2001, when it denied the City of Indianapolis' petition for certiorari. That case centered on an attempt by the city to limit the display and operation of currency-based machines deemed harmful to minors.


U.S. Supreme Court: Video Game Biz States its Case in California Violent Video Game Law Appeal

July 23, 2009 -

Sometime this fall, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to review California's appeal of lower court rulings striking down its 2005 violent video game law as unconstitutional. Yesterday, the video game industry submitted its position to the Court.

In a 41-page brief compiled by attorney Paul Smith of Jenner & Block, the game industry relies heavily on precedents set by a history of failed attempts by state and local governments to impose age-based restrictions on video games. Indeed, the game biz has never lost such a case and Smith has been their successful point man for many years. From the brief:

Despite [California's] efforts to conjure up some argument for review of the Ninth Circuit’s decision, in reality the decision is a routine application of established First Amendment principles to a content-based ban on protected expression.

Petitioners offer no persuasive reason for the Court to review this ruling. There is no split of
[past decisions] on the questions presented. To the contrary, the lower courts are unanimous as to the constitutionality of bans on distribution of violent video games. That is unsurprising...

California was not the first state to try to restrict distribution of video games it considered too violent for minors. Such laws have proved politically popular, but every one has been struck down under the First Amendment...

Smith and his fellow attorney also dig into California's assertion that children should be legally shielded from violent video games as they are from obscenity. California's causation arguments, which attempt to link violent video games to violent behavior, are also taken to task.

DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab a copy of the game industry brief here (41-page PDF)...


GU Comics Has Fun with California Supreme Court Appeal

May 22, 2009 -

This week's announcement that California would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of its 2005 violent video game law did not escape the notice of Woody Hearn, who draws GU Comics.

At left is Hearn's rendition of California State Senator Leland Yee (D), the driving force behind the contested legislation. There's also mention of a mysterious man named "Jack." Who could that be?

Click here to view the full comic.


Read California's Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

May 20, 2009 -

California's petition to the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari in regard to its 2005 video game law is now available online.

The petition asks the Court to consider two key questions:

1. Does the First Amendment bar a state from restricting the sale of violent video games to minors?

2. If the First Amendment applies to violent video games that are sold to minors, and the standard of review is strict scrutiny, under Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. F.C.C., 512 U.S. 622, 666 (1994), is the state required to demonstrate a direct causal link between violent video games and physical and psychological harm to minors before the state can prohibit the sale of the games to minors?

Grab your copy here (PDF).


BREAKING - California Appeals Video Game Law to U.S. Supreme Court

May 20, 2009 -

For the first time ever, the United States Supreme Court will consider a case involving a restriction against the purchase of violent video games by minors.

GamePolitics has just received the news by way of a press release from the office of California State Senator Leland Yee (D). It was Yee who sponsored the contested video game law as an Assemblyman in 2005. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in October, 2005, triggering a court battle with between the state and the video game industry which will now extend to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The law, scheduled to take effect January 1st, 2006, never became effective due to an injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte in December, 2005. Judge Whyte would eventually go on to permanently enjoin the law in August of 2007, ruling it unconstitutional. Gov. Schwarzenegger, however, ordered an appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court.

In February of this year, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit upheld Judge Whyte's ruling, leaving the U.S. Supreme Court as California's last option, an option that Gov. Schwarzenegger has now chosen to exercise. Schwarzenegger's comments are contained in the press release:

I signed this important measure to ensure parents are involved in determining which video games are appropriate for their children. By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled, this law would allow parents to make better informed decisions for their kids. I will continue to vigorously defend this law and protect the well-being of California’s kids.

For his part, Yee, a child psychologist by trade, said:

I am hopeful that the Supreme Court – which has never heard a case dealing with violent video games – will accept our appeal...  


Passing this law was not easy and thus we should not expect the court proceedings to be any different. The multi-billion dollar video game industry relies on the revenue generated by the sales of these extremely violent games to children; thus they have the desire and resources to fight this cause at every turn.  Despite their high-priced lobbyists, they were unsuccessful in the Legislature and despite their high-priced lawyers, I am hopeful they will inevitably face the same fate in the courts.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown (D), whose office will handle the SCOTUS appeal, added:

California’s children are exposed everyday to video games that glamorize killing sprees, torture and sexual assault. In the face of this brutal violence, I am petitioning the Supreme Court to allow the state to enforce its reasonable ban on violent video game sales and rentals to minors.

The A.G.'s office has initiated the appeal by filing a petition for a writ of certiorari. As GamePolitics readers may recall from the recent Jack Thompson appeal, the Supreme Court process dictates that the justices as a group will consider California's petition in private conference at a later date. If four of the nine justices vote to grant California's petition, the case will advance to the filing of briefs. Otherwise, the appeal will end.

With U.S. Supreme Court Appeal Deadline Approaching, What Will California Do?

May 13, 2009 -

The Sacramento Bee laments the big bucks paid out by California to reimburse the video game industry's legal costs in fighting the state's 2005 video game law, and wonders if there are more expenses to come.

The video game measure, proposed by State Sen. Leland Yee (D) and signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has been - so far - held to be unconstitutional by the federal courts. The Bee notes that the tally of California's payments to the video game industry now exceeds $382,000. That figure does not include the state's costs for its own legal team.

The crucial question - which must be decided by May 20th - is whether California will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Adam Keigwin, Yee's chief of staff, commented on the pending decision:

That would be a small price to pay to save children and to give parents a tool. At what cost do you stop doing what you think is right?


Leland Yee Urges Supreme Court Appeal of California Ruling

February 20, 2009 -

Is California's violent video game law headed to the U.S. Supreme Court?

State Sen. Leland Yee (D) thinks it should be. Yee has urged California Attorney General Jerry Brown to appeal today's 9th Circuit Court decision which upheld a lower court's ruling that the video game law he authored in 2005 is unconstitutional.

Yee, a child psychologist, released this statement: 

While I am deeply disappointed in today’s ruling, we should not stop our efforts to assist parents in keeping these harmful video games out of the hands of children.  I believe this law will inevitably be upheld as Constitutional by the US Supreme Court.  In fact, the high court recently agreed, in Roper v. Simmons (2005), that we need to treat children differently in the eyes of the law due to brain development.



BREAKING - Appeals Court Terminates Gov. Schwarzenegger's CA Video Game Law

February 20, 2009 -

The 9th Circuit Court has affirmed a U.S. District Court decision which struck down California's 2005 violent video game law.

As GamePolitics reported last November, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit heard the state's appeal in Sacramento. In upholding the District Court's 2007 ruling, the 9th Circuit rejected several research studies presented by the states as failing to demonstrate a causal link between violent video game play and negative behavior:

Nearly all of the research is based on correlation, not evidence of causation, and most of the studies suffer from significant, admitted flaws in methodology.

The Court also rejected as unconstitutional a section of the law requiring retailers to label violent games with a four-inch square label with "18" printed on it.

Reactions to the ruling are beginning to come in. Jennifer Mercurio, Director of Government Affairs for the Entertainment Consumers Association, said:

We couldn’t be happier. Federal courts have found all nine legislative attempts to curtail the sale of violent video games invalid under the First Amendment, definitively showing that video games are protected speech, just like other content such as books, comic books, movies and music.

Bo Andersen, CEO of game retailers' group the Entertainment Merchants Association, said:

Retailers are committed to assisting parents in assuring that children do not purchase games that are not appropriate for their age. Independent surveys show that retailers are doing a very good job in this area, with an 80% enforcement rate, and retailers will continue to work to increase enforcement rates even further. The court has correctly noted that the state cannot simply dismiss these efforts.

I understand that some government officials will push for the state to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review this decision. The state should not acquiesce in this demand, particularly in light of its budget difficulties. The state has already wasted too many tax dollars, at least $283,000 at last count, on this ill-advised, and ultimately doomed, attempt at state-sponsored nannyism.

ESA CEO Mike Gallagher called the ruling "a win for California's citizens."

With the 9th Circuit's rejection of the California video game law, the question now becomes whether Gov. Schwarzenegger will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The Entertainment Consumers Association is the parent company of GamePolitics.

As 9th Circuit Mulls Game Law, GameSpot Interviews CA's Leland Yee

November 4, 2008 -

As GamePolitics recently reported, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court has taken California's 2005 video game law under consideration.

A lower court ruled last year that the law, which restricts sales of violent games to underage buyers, is unconstitutional. GameSpot has interviewed State Sen. Leland Yee (D), the driving force behind the measure, for their latest podcast.

While most gamers won't share Yee's view on the California law, the legislator is invariably respectful of gamers (if not their pastime).

According to Yee, this case is heading to the highest court in the land, no matter who wins before the 9th Circuit:

However the Ninth Circuit's going to rule on this matter, I think either side is going to appeal this. It's going to go to the Supreme Court. Hopefully what we're going to end up [with] in California and throughout the nation is a balance. How do you protect the first amendment and ensure there's not going to be limitations on the free expression of individuals' desires and wants and creativity when developing these games but at the same time protecting our kids and the general public?

There is an organized effort to let me know very clearly that a lot of the gamers are not supportive of what I'm doing. I'm not trying to be arrogant or disrespectful toward them, but I am a legislator myself. And I need to look at what is also right. Leadership is sometimes not about simply putting your finger in the political wind and seeing how everybody feels. Rather, it's having some hard, core values as to what you think is appropriate and right and trying to do the right thing.


Listen as Circuit Court Considers California Video Game Law

November 3, 2008 -

As GamePolitics reported last week,  a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court heard California's appeal of a lower court ruling that the state's 2005 video game law was unconstitutional.

Readers can now listen to the arguments in the case. It's quite entertaining and runs for about 45 minutes

A few highlights:

California Deputy Attorney General Zachery Morazzini: Minors can't be trusted to make important decisions impacting on their physical and psychological well being.


Judge Consuelo Callahan: Aren't you asking this court to go where no court has gone before?


Judge Alex Kozinski: Is there anything out of limits for the Legislature to prohibit to minors? What about games where people eat unhealthy foods and get fat?... Why not a law targeting "games that teach children bad living habits, such as eating unhealthy food or using plastic bags?


Judge Sidney Thomas: If 'The Iliad' were turned into a video game, it would fall within your definition of violent.


Video Game Industry Attorney Paul Smith: This smacks of thought control. Do we really want the government deciding we can't have access to something the state of California disapproves of because it gets the user excited? That's scary.

Download the audio file here.

UPDATE: Added a new link. If you were having difficulties with the download, try it now...


GP Exclusive: Souvenir from California Video Game Law Appeal

October 30, 2008 -

An inside source who attended yesterday's hearing before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court was kind enough to send along a souvenir, which we in turn are passing along to GamePolitics readers in digital format.

We're told that one of these was placed on every seat in the courtroom.

Get yours here...



California Video Game Law: Heading to Supreme Court?

October 29, 2008 -

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court is not expected to rule immediately on today's hearing in which California appealed a lower court decision that invalidated the state's 2005 video game law.

But a well-informed source who attended the proceedings told GamePolitics that the case looks as if it will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. If so, it would be the first time the highest court in the land has considered a video game issue.

Reports by media observers in attendance support the notion that whichever side loses will appeal to SCOTUS. From the Associated Press:

Appellate Judge Consuelo Callahan said upholding California's law would mark a significant expansion of the kind of material that federal courts have traditionally regulated...

California Deputy Attorney General Zackery Morazzini urged the panel to take that step. He said states have every right to help parents who want to keep their children from playing violent video games. The U.S. Supreme Court already has limited sexually explicit material from children. Violent video games are just as obscene, Morazzini argued.

"I believe the Supreme Court has left that door wide open," he told the panel.

The San Jose Mercury-News reports that the Circuit Court judges seemed inclined to uphold the lower court's 2007 injunction against the California law:

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals expressed concern that the state's anti-violent video game law runs afoul of the First Amendment... While the 9th Circuit judges did lend some support to the state, they were generally skeptical the law can survive.

"What you are asking us to do is go where no one has gone before,'' Judge Consuelo Callahan said to the state's lawyer. "Admittedly, [the violent video games] are disgusting. But aren't you just trying to be the thought police?''

San Francisco's ABC-7 covered the hearing with reporter Terry McSweeney interviewing State Sen. Leland Yee (left), author of California's bill. Jennifer Mercurio, an attorney with gamer advocacy group the Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA), is quoted by ABC-7:

The way this law is drafted comes up against hundreds of years of First Amendment issues.

McSweeney ended his video report with this commentary:

Both sides agree that whoever loses is going to appeal this thing and it's going to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.


Dancing Judge, Gaming Judge (with baggage) Will Hear California Video Game Law Appeal Today

October 29, 2008 -

This morning when the state of California argues before the U.S. 9th Circuit that its 2005 video game law is constitutional, at least one member of the Court's three-judge appeal panel will have some familiarity with games.

As GamePolitics has previously reported, Judge Alex Kozinski at one time penned game reviews for the Wall Street Journal. On a more serious note, Kozinski has also apparently survived a June scandal in which sexually graphic images were found on a personal website which he maintained.

Other panel members include Judge Sydney Thomas and Judge Consuelo Callahan (left). Callahan has been dubbed The Dancin' Queen of the Ninth Circuit thanks to her penchant for beaking into tap routines (GP: You can't make this stuff up.):

A hoofer with a sense of humor, Callahan likes to surprise judicial and legal gatherings by starting discussions about serious topics and ending with a quip about appellate judges who tap dance around issues. She then pulls off her black robe to reveal a sequined costume and tap shoes.

She's been known to hop on a tabletop or in one case on a judicial bench during these special events and do some pretty impressive steps. "I may be the highest ranking tap dancer in federal court," Callahan said with a grin during a recent interview in her chambers in the Sacramento federal court building. "It is fun and it has a certain shock value."

Shock value, indeed. Wouldn't it be fab if Judge Callahan broke out the tap shoes this morning?

Today's hearing will take place at 9:30 am PST at the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. In a press release, State Senator Leland Yee (D), architect of the contested video game law, offered his view:

California’s violent video game law properly seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of interactive, ultra violent video games. Our efforts to assist parents in the fight to keep these harmful video games out of the hands of children should survive Constitutional challenge under all levels of judicial review.
Based on an extensive body of peer-reviewed research from leading social scientists and medical associations, we narrowly tailored this law to serve the State’s compelling interest in protecting children. I am hopeful that the 9th Circuit will overturn the lower courts decision and help empower parents with the ultimate decision over whether or not their children play in a world of violence and murder.

Game retailers group the Entertainment Merchants Association, along with game publishers group the ESA, are plaintiffs in the case. The EMA recapped the legal fight surrounding the California law in its own press release - hit the jump for the details.

Federal Appeals Court Scheduled to Hear California Game Law Case

September 10, 2008 -

October 29th is shaping up as a big day for the video game industry.

On that morning, oral arguments concerning California's contested 2005 video game law will be heard by judges of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court in Sacramento.

As GamePolitics readers may recall, the law crafted by then-Assemblyman Leland Yee restricted the sale of "ultra-violent" games to minors. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed it into law on October 7th, 2005 but a federal court injunction blocked the measure from going into effect.

In August, 2007 U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte ruled that the law was unconstitutional. Gov. Schwarzenegger, who has been enriched by his portrayal in several violent games (see pic), made the decision to appeal the ruling not long after. The actual appeal was filed in January of this year.

Given the late October time frame, a decision from the 9th Circuit won't likely come until well into 2009.


If California Wins Video Game Law Appeal, ESA Must Send Back the Money

August 6, 2008 -

The Entertainment Software Association made a bit of a splash yesterday with news that the state of California had forked over $282,794 to the game publishers' lobbying group.

The money represents legal fees incurred by the video game industry while fighting California's 2005 video game law in U.S. District court. Judge Ronald Whyte ruled the statute unconstitutional in August of 2007.

However, as GamePolitics has reported, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (left) appealed Judge Whyte's decision to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court earlier this year. While it is unlikely that the state will prevail in its effort to keep the video game law on the books, if it does pull an upset, the ESA is required to return the money.

The details of this arrangement are spelled out in a November, 2007 agreement between the ESA and the state, which says, in part:

If, after all appeals have been exhausted or the time for all remaining appeals has expired, plaintiffs [the video game industry] are no longer the prevailing party in this case, the plaintiffs shall pay back the amount stipulated in paragraph 1 within thirty (30) days of the disposition of the final appeal or the expiration of time for all remaining appeals.

It's also interesting to note that the amount paid to the ESA by California was subject to some negotiation. As GamePolitics reported last September, the ESA initially sought $324,840.

Grab a copy of the settlement agreement here.

California Pays ESA $283,000 Over 2005 Video Game Law

August 5, 2008 -

The Entertainment Software Association, which represents the interests of US game publishers, issued a press release today announcing that it had received a check for $282,794  from the state of California.

The money represents legal fees incurred by the video game industry while contesting California's 2005 video game law. The statute was declared unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court Judge in August, 2007.

Commenting on the payment, ESA CEO Michael Gallagher said:

California deserves more from its legislators than pursuing flawed legislation. State employees are facing pay cuts. California’s services are being scaled back. And, anxiety is rising in Sacramento to find funds. Rather than tackling real problems affecting Californians, they chose to waste time, money and state resources. It is shameful that legislators pursued personal agendas in spite of the facts.


Caregivers are not well-served by court battles and legal fees. Rather, they would have been far better off if state officials worked together with our industry to raise awareness about video game ratings and the parental controls available on all new game consoles—both of which help ensure that the games children play are parent-approved.

The ESA also notes that the payment comes at a financially difficult time for California, which faces a $15 billion budget gap and laid off 10,000 state workers last week.
As directed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the case remains under appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Gallagher threw a jab at the state on that score as well:
It is unfortunate that the state is stubbornly pursuing an appeal that is likely to lead to even more court-awarded fees.


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Mattsworknamealso, in MGR, on higher levels, button mashing will get you reckt, you have to master parry to even have a prayer05/24/2015 - 8:52pm
MattsworknameI kinda would like a bit more variety in the combat, as it feels a bit to stiff and slow for me. Especailly after other games ive played05/24/2015 - 8:39pm
Goth_SkunkThere's... no button mashing in DA:I. However, neither is DA:I's combat perfect. I, for one, detest the active talent max limit of 8.05/24/2015 - 8:21pm
MattsworknameDa I combat is fun, a bit stiff but fun, but I still say the best pure combat engine in any game was Metal gear rising.05/24/2015 - 7:15pm
ZippyDSMleeWhen DA gets a control system like DA:O I'll brother to want to paly it, I frown on button mashing RPGs not made by bethseda...05/24/2015 - 5:59pm
Matthew Wilson our first steps tos a dues ex future lol.05/24/2015 - 1:51pm
Goth_SkunkThe game is 75% sidequests, 25% story. And most of those sidequests are only vaguely related to the main story at all, having very little consequence to the plot at large.05/24/2015 - 1:12pm
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ZippyDSMleeI need one of my 70 games to play....mmmmmmmm05/24/2015 - 9:57am
MattsworknameSpent all night playing blood borne, now trapped in the Nightmare frontier and trying to reach the boss so I can maybe warp out again05/24/2015 - 9:21am
MattsworknameYeah, i got started and then made it through t the first few misions anthen blood borne05/23/2015 - 10:13pm
Goth_SkunkWhich one, Dragon Age?05/23/2015 - 8:20pm
Wonderkarpalso waiting patiently for Batman.05/23/2015 - 7:36pm
MattsworknameIn still trying ot beat that game the first time. Freaking game has so much side questing05/23/2015 - 7:34pm
Goth_SkunkPlaying a third and probably final playthrough of Dragon Age: Inquisition. Once that's done, I'll move on to AC: Unity, most likely, then get caught up on A-list games I have yet to play, like Murdered: Soul Suspect and Shadows of Mordor.05/23/2015 - 6:33pm
MattsworknameIf you own a vita and like monster hunter, but dont like the bs filler that goes with it. Try tokiden kiwmai05/23/2015 - 6:11pm
Matthew Wilsonaparently their servers got crushed, but I dont see the game selling well. Nintendo fans tend not to be fans of competitive fps05/23/2015 - 5:48pm
MattsworknameSPlatton looks intersting, Love the are style, gonna give the game a try with the upcoming test fire05/23/2015 - 4:39pm
PHX Corp@Technogeek, I'm returning for one more Run with the Global testfire05/23/2015 - 3:41pm
WonderkarpI'm bouncing all over the place but right now I'd say I'm playing Super Mario 64 trying to max out the stars. 2 worlds and 2 secret stars to go05/23/2015 - 1:12pm

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