The Nine Old (Wo)men have spoken: it is not the place of the government to regulate the sale or rental of video games to children under the age of 18. In a landmark and long-awaited decision, the United States Supreme Court not only struck down California's proposed law to ban the sale of violent games to minors, but declared that video games are a medium protected by the First Amendment (i.e. the free speech clause everyone likes to throw around on the Internet).
In their statement, the Court questioned why games should be treated differently from any other medium. "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. Under our Constitution, 'esthetic and moral judgments about art and literature . . . are for the individual to make, not for the Government to decree'." In other words, it's up to GameStop employees to make sure you show your ID when buying an M-rated game, not the suits in the White House.
It should be noted that even the two votes against weren't exactly supportive of California's law, instead suggesting that the First Amendment did not protect entertainers from sending a message directly to children without passing through their parents or guardians first.James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, found the decision "disappointing", and said that "If parents decide a violent game is okay for their kid, that’s one thing, but millions of kids are not able to judge the impact of ultra-violence on their own."
To be fair, he does have a point, but does that mean the government has to step in and act as a parental substitute themselves? Let's have some civilized discussion in the comments, folks.
Source: Hollywood Reporter