Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Video games are protected speech

I'm not a gamer and I'm not a huge fan of comics, but I am a staunch supporter of the First Amendment, and I want the government to stay out of restricting what I can and cannot read/see/hear, etc. This editorial does a fine job of covering the issues as the Supreme Court ventures into ostensibly new territory for them.

What about the breakneck convergence of gaming with other expressive technologies? A fair number of popular games, for example, are based on bestselling graphic novels, which clearly are entitled to 1st Amendment protection as aesthetic speech. Could we sustain a distinction that protects a reader's ability to consume a work of literature as a series of images and text blocks on a page, but not to interact with the very same characters in the very same situations as moving pictures on a television or computer screen? If you've seen "Avatar," then it doesn't take much imagination to foresee the coming convergence between 3D CGI film technology and gaming's interactive dimension. Will those works of imagination be held to the standards we have now for films, or measured against one crafted for games?

I don't buy into the "protect the kids" argument, either. A free society is not Romper Room, and I think kids are far more astute and capable than their elders think they are, anyway. Free speech is free speech. See here for more about fighting censorship of pop culture.


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