Just over a week before the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments over California's 2005 law restricting the sale of certain violent video games to minors, the law's author, California State Senator Leland Yee has released a formal statement previewing the case and laying out his argument in support of the restrictions.
In a statement
released through his office, Yee reiterated that the law was intended to empower parents rather than restrict the speech rights of game makers.
"Parents – not retailers or game makers – should be able to decide whether or not their children can play in a world of murder and violence that often degrades women and racial minorities," 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."
Yee, a trained child psychologist, also suggested that the interactive nature of video games makes them potentially more dangerous to a child's development than other media, and that parents may not be able to accurately evaluate a game's content.
"Parents can easily discern if other forms of media are appropriate for their children," Yee said, "whereas violent video games can contain hundreds of hours of footage with the most atrocious, racist, and sexist content often reserved for the highest levels.”
In 2007, the FTC praised the game industry
for making 85 percent of parents aware of the ESRB rating system. A 2009 FTC study
found that retailers stopped unaccompanied minors from purchasing M-rated games 80 percent of the time. A similar study conducted by the National Institute on Media and Family in 2007
found only 54 percent of stores enforcing self-imposed restrictions on M-rated game sales.
The ESA claims parents are present for 93 percent of game purchases or rentals by minors, and that 88 percent of games are purchased by adults.
Yee said he was hopeful the Supreme Court would rule in his favor, citing similar Supreme-Court-imposed restrictions on minors' access to "pornography, gambling, marriage, firearms, jury duty, tobacco, alcohol, voting, abortion, licenses, and the death penalty."