Supreme Court: Video games are art

Siding with reality, the Supreme Court has ruled against California in a decision regarding the status of video games:

Video games are art, and they deserve the exact same First Amendment protections as books, comics, plays and all the rest, the U.S. Supreme Court said Monday in a ruling about the sale of violent video games in California.

California had tried to argue that video games are inherently different from these other mediums because they are “interactive.” So if a kid has to pick up a controller and hit the B button — over and over again until he starts to get thumb arthritis — to kill a person in a video game, that’s different from reading about a similar murder, the state said.

The high court didn’t buy that argument, however.

I was reminded recently that this case was coming to a head and I wondered to myself how ‘Justice’ Scalia would rule. After a little consideration, I surmised he would come down in favor of the gaming industry. He often makes poor decisions based upon little to nothing, but this case was just too obvious for him to get wrong:

“Like the protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas — and even social messages — through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot, and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player’s interaction with the virtual world). That suffices to confer First Amendment protection.”

So not only does the interactive medium not make video games fundamentally different than things like music and literature (in terms of being art), it actually is a feature which helps to define it as art. Everyone has been telling this to California all along, but I’m glad the Supreme Court could articulate it so well.

And as much as I dislike Scalia, I’ve always thought he was a decent writer, sometimes even humorous. He doesn’t fail to deliver here:

That’s all well and good. But the most fun to be had in this potentially dry court opinion is when Scalia starts writing about how gory old-school stories are, too. He’s trying to make the point that stories have included violence for as long as there have been stories.

The examples are pretty hilarious:

“Grimm’s Fairy Tales, for example, are grim indeed,” he writes.

Then there’s this:

“Cinderella’s evil stepsisters have their eyes pecked out by doves. And Hansel and Gretel (children!) kill their captor by baking her in an oven.”

And, finally, if that wasn’t enough eye-related violence for you:

“High-school reading lists are full of similar fare. Homer’s Odysseus blinds Polyphemus the Cyclops by grinding out his eye with a heated stake.”

Well done, sir. Now excuse me while I go snipe some Elites.

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8 Responses

  1. I think we should bake all kidnappers in ovens. Talk about a deterrent.

    In other news they are going to take another look at the FCC policy on fleeting expletives also.

  2. When I heard on the radio today that Scalia wrote the majority opinion, i really wanted to know how’d you respond. Well put today.

  3. Does it seem like the high court always rules against California…. or is it just me?

  4. Well some porn is art also! Why can’t kids have access to porn also???

    My backsground is social science. Study after study confirm that kids exposed to violence on TV have more of a chance of turning criminal. Well why not? Corporations control our society from video stores to prisons….it’s good for business….

  5. Again, as if corporations are these sentient creatures that act of their own accord.

    Given the great numbers of kids and adults watching ever more violent tv shows and playing ever more violent games and so on, violent crime has been declining for years.

    These studies you mention tend to focus on one aspect of a child’s life, their TV watching, and don’t look at the rest. Perhaps a lack of parental supervision and interaction leaves them with more time to watch TV and the lack of interaction is to blame on their future behavior. Maybe it is something else about the crowd that typically watches more TV that affects them later in life. AND there is the possibility that kids already prone to violence are drawn to this type of TV and game and the TV has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

    Kind of like blaming my love of lobster on seeing lobster on TV instead of my natural taste for it.

    Do I think, than that kids should be exposed to all kinds of violence and such? No. But I am willing to leave it up to the parents to police their TV watching and game playing.

  6. I guess watching porn is OK for kids as long as they get their parent’s permission???? And watching Kiddie porn is OK for adults as long as it is art?

    The Supreme court treats corporations the same as sentient creatures. Why can’t I?????

    Good social science study surveys consider all aspects of children’s lives…take place over a long time,,,,,tries to control for many factors….and is extensively peer reviewed.That’s why it is called a Science

  7. Hmm, and maybe we should leave sex education up to the parents too… oh wait, that DIDN’T WORK.

    And hey! Maybe we should leave ALL education up to the parents! Why get the government involved, just because education is the key to a person’s ENTIRE FUTURE IN SOCIETY.

    Libertarians: stomping their feet and holding their breath since 1971.

  8. Doncha know Copy, government is the enemy? Youbetcha, we have too much government interference in our lives! ( so say Bachman, Palin, et al.)

    We are the government. It’s not an outside sentient creature from us (well, unless the Supreme Court says it is) . “We the People” is the best government designed by us…the people….!Unfortunately, there are people out there who are downright “Un-American”..they want to “reform” our government and take away our “rights” to serve their “Wants”.

    And the sad part, they are being successful in so doing and soon we’ll all share in Libertarian grandeur!!!! It’s a damnright idiocy!!!!

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