Video games are part of protected speech under the First Amendment according to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, but the best part is that it doesn’t seem to be drawing the same sort of criticism and hyperbole as the Citizens United ruling. And why not? After all, video games are produced by corporations. Julian Sanchez makes a fantastic point:
None of the justices seem to make much of the obvious fact that the great majority of popular video games-and probably just about all of the ones exhibiting the level of graphical sophistication and realism at issue here-are produced, marketed, and sold by (uh oh) corporations. In fact, the passage quoted above focuses entirely on acts (“creating, distributing, or consuming”) rather than particular actors, just as the First Amendment itself prohibits government interference with speech not with this or that type of speaker. The Court simply observes that because the statute “imposes a restriction on the content of protected speech, it is invalid unless California can demonstrate that it passes strict scrutiny.”
This decision clarifying the free speech protections on video games (which has been needed for some time) comes during a year when Bioshock Infinite received the Game Critics Award as “Best in Show,” as well as for other categories. Why is this significant? Because the Bioshock series focuses on a series of well developed dystopias, this most recent being one that includes a poster stating: “We must all be vigilant to ensure the purity of our people.” Happy coincidence.