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Gaming Sunday, September 19th 2010 at 12:55 pm

Mature Games To Minors Supreme Court Case Has New Defender: Stan Lee

In an open letter published on the Video Game Voter’s Network website, Stan Lee has thrown his support behind the game merchants of Schwarzenegger, Gov. of CA V. Entertainment Merchants, Et Al., the case headed for the Supreme Court which will give a federal ruling on whether it is constitutional to prohibit minors from purchasing violent games.

Lee makes very appropriate comparisons between the current mainstream worry about children playing violent games and the same fears about crime and horror comics in the nineteen fifties.  Hopefully the public’s fears of video gaming can be resolved without a restrictive self-imposed system of censorship that artistically hobbled the industry for a decade and a half.

We’ve excerpted some of Lee’s letter below:

I created Spider-Man, Iron Man and the Hulk, the virtual ancestors of the characters in today’s games. In the 1950s, there was a national hysteria about the so-called “dangerous effect” comic books were having on our nation’s youth.

Comic books, it was said, contributed to “juvenile delinquency.” A Senate subcommittee investigated and decided the U.S. could not “afford the calculated risk involved in feeding its children, through comic books, a concentrated diet of crime, horror and violence.” Comic books were burned. The State of Washington made it a crime to sell comic books without a license. And Los Angeles passed a law that said it was a crime to sell “crime comic books.” Looking back, the outcry was — forgive the expression — comical.

The more things change, as they say, the more they stay the same. Substitute video games for comic books and you’ve got a 21st century replay of the craziness of the 1950s. States have passed laws restricting the sale of video games and later this year, the Supreme Court will hear a case about one of those laws, this one passed in California. Why does this matter? Because if you restrict sales of video games, you’re chipping away at our First Amendment rights to free speech and opening the door to restrictions on books and movies.

The Supreme Court should find the law unconstitutional, as lower courts have. But politicians will keep looking for ways to restrict the rights of gamers and computer and video game artists because it makes for good headlines to say they’re “protecting the children,” even if they’re doing no such thing. They do so despite the fact that the industry has a remarkable rating system in place already and all new consoles have parental controls — both of which help parents ensure parents are in control of what their children play. But you can help fight the battle against politicians.

You can read the whole letter at the Video Game Voter’s Network, here.

(via Bleeding Cool.)

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