The Supreme Court case that may ultimately decide the fate of mature games throughout the country took another step forward today as the state of California filed its arguments in favor a measure that will restrict the sale of violent games to minors.
The effort is the brainchild of California Senator Leland Yee, who believes the law is necessary for the protection of children and will ultimately pass Constitutional challenges that have killed similar legislation in other states.
"We need to help empower parents with the ultimate decision over whether or not their children play in a world of violence and murder," Yee said. "The video game industry should not be allowed to put their profit margins over the rights of parents and the well-being of children."
The industry, of course, favors self regulation in the form of ESRB ratings and public relations campaigns aimed at education parents as to how to use them. Retailers (at least, big chains) have largely cooperated with the voluntary system and have adopted policies to prevent the sales of M rated titles to unaccompanied minors.
So the battle lines are drawn: On the one hand, Yee and the idea that some video games are harmful to kids, and the law already prevents some depictions in entertainment (animal cruely, obscenity); and on the other, the idea that there isn't convincing evidence that games harm kids, and even if there was, it's not compatible with the First Amendment -- besides, the rating system is working pretty well.
You all probably fall on the side of the game industry, but how well do you think the ESRB's rating system is working in reality? Do you think parents really understand and/or care about the ESRB rating of titles? How accdurate are those ratings, anyway? Are retailers already voluntarily keeping kids from buying M-rated games? Judging by the number of high-pitched pre-pubescents I hear on Live, it's certainly not working perfectly...