Another Video Game Law Deemed Unconstitutional

U.S. Disctrict Court Judge Robin J. Cauthron has issued a permanent injunction against an Oklahoma state law that, if it had ever gone into effect, would have prevented the sale of violent video games to minors.

The law was signed last June by Governor Brad Henry, but a temporary injunction was invoked almost immediately to study whether or not the law was constitutional.

“We need to move past unconstitutional attempts to circumvent Oklahoma citizens’ rights. This bill was clearly unconstitutional and we now need to develop a public/private partnership that meets concerned parents’ needs,” said Michael D. Gallagher, president of the ESA, which represents U.S. computer and video game publishers. “State officials and policymakers should work together with our industry to educate parents about game ratings and the parental controls available on all new video game consoles.”

Judge Cauthron addressed the issue of computer and video games’ interactivity. She found that, “the presence of increased viewer control and interactivity does not remove these games from the release of First Amendment protection.” The court also ruled that the law was underinclusive because a minor prevented from buying a video game with “’inappropriate violence’ may still legally buy or rent the book or movie on which the game was based.”

It is still possible that the state will appeal the ruling, but the official ruling is likely to have made its impact in the court of public opinion.