The game industry has fired off another preemptory salvo in the looming Supreme Court battle
over California's violent video game law. Writing in the Orange County Register
, Activision's chief public policy officer, George Rose, declares the law to be "a textbook example of government overreaching that is stubbornly trying to make sure blind zealotry is allowed to trump reason." Apart from the usual First Amendment argument, Rose also notes that the law would put unfair legal and financial pressure on store clerks, who could be held legally responsible for selling an inappropriate game to an underage customer.
"Enact this ominous law, and you leave it for the clerk to guess whether a game is covered by the law or not because it won't use the ratings system our industry developed," writes Rose, adding that clerks could be faced with losing their jobs or finding a way to reimburse their employer for incurred fines.
Rose also states that, according to the Federal Trade Commission, the ESRB rating system has successfully prevented underage customers from purchasing adult games. He elaborates that the "egregious violent games" referenced by politicians are either rated AO or aren't rated at all. Either way, retailers routinely do not stock such games.
Finally, Rose notes that the ESRB system is a privately funded program, whereas Governor Schwarzenegger's law proposes government funded enforcement. "California is a state with a history of budget shortfalls, IOUs, furloughed workers, closed DMV offices, shuttered courts, squeezed school districts where children wait weeks to start school, pummeled university budgets, stretched health care resources and cities without enough money to properly fund their police and fire needs," writes Rose, "They all can use state dollars that would be wasted here."