A law that would have barred California retailers from renting or selling violent video games to minors starting Jan. 1 has been blocked by a federal judge, reports the San Jose Mercury news. The order was issued in San Jose Wednesday in a challenge by video-game industry groups. The law would have required game publishers to put large “18” labels on especially violent games, identifying which ones could not be sold or rented to minors.
U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte said the law’s provision to label games may run afoul of free-speech rights. He questioned lawmakers’ claim that playing violent video games causes children to think or act aggressively in real life. Whyte did find that the law’s definition of a violent video game was not unconstitutionally vague, as the industry association plaintiffs argued. It is “time to look past legislation and litigation in favor of cooperative efforts to accomplish the common goal of ensuring that parents use the tools available to control the games their kids play,” said Douglas Lowenstein, president of the industry group. A new tool parents have are controls installed in new video game consoles, like Microsoft’s Xbox 360, that limit what types of games can be played. Over the past five years, lawmakers across the country have been trying to regulate the access minors have to violent video games. Courts have struck down or temporarily blocked all of them.