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By 22 September 2010 | Categories: news

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Game publisher Activision Blizzard (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and Transformers: War for Cybertron) announced yesterday that it has joined an alliance of individuals and companies aiming to counter a 2005 California law. This law would prohibit the sale or rental to minors of any video game containing certain expressions, ideas and images deemed to be too violent by government officials.
 
It would also have allowed for considerable penalties to be levied on retailers that failed to enforce it, but was blocked by a federal judge as unconstitutional before coming into effect. That decision was then also upheld by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
 
On 2 November the US Supreme Court will review the decision, when it will hear oral arguments.
 
Activision Blizzard has filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, which states that the pre-existing entertainment software industry rating and enforcement efforts do enough to empower parents to make informed decisions regarding the computer and videogames that their children are allowed to play.
 
“Our First Amendment has survived intact for 219 years amid far greater technological, historical and social challenges,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard.
 
“The argument that video games present some kind of new ominous threat that requires a wholesale reassessment of one of our nation’s most treasured freedoms and to take that freedom away indiscriminately from an entire group of our population based on nothing but age is beyond absurd.”
 
A much wider selection of role-players than those of the videogame industry has joined the alliance, counting film-, music-, publishing-, advertising-, journalism-, software- and comic book professionals amongst them, as well numerous legal scholars. 
 
The reasoning behind this move is that by allowing for this exception (targeting videogames) to the US First Amendment, more exceptions could follow that would extend it to books, films, TV shows, music etc.
 
In South Africa our computer and videogames use the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) rating system to ensure that the gaming titles are clearly labelled by age according to the content that they contain.

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