Supreme Court votes against video game ban

The Supreme Court says banning the sale of video games to children is unconstitutional.
It's a Power up! for video game enthusiasts and Constitution advocates alike.

The Supreme Court this morning ruled “Game over” on an imposed ban on the sale and rental of violent video games to minors, saying that such restrictions would violate the First Amendment.

Monday morning’s decision, which won by a vote of 7-2, marked the first ruling in a video game case ever by the Supreme Court.

Justices say that the existing, industry-imposed and voluntary rating system that is shown on most video game packages is adequate enough for parents to base whether or not their children should be allowed to play the game. Those standards were adopted in 1994 with the founding of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), which began assigning ratings like “Teen,” “Everyone” and “Adults only” in response to controversial video games like Mortal Kombat and Doom that were rampant with graphic violence.

The state of California, however, believes that they have a legal obligation to protect their children from inappropriate games when the industry fails to do so.

In a 2010 study by the Peter D. Hart Research Associates, though, 86 percent of parents polled said that they were aware of the rating system in place and 75 percent said they regularly check the label. A 2007 Kaiser Family Foundation report revealed that nine-out-of-ten parents found the ratings to be either “very useful” or “somewhat useful.”

Today the ESRB rates around 1,000 titles a year.

Last year the video game industry pulled in over $18 billion in sales, and around 40 percent of American households today have a gaming system.