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Parents back legal ban of violent vidgames sales to kids

But what if you change the question?

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The war between the video games industry and critics who think that playing violent games are harmful to children moves to the US Supreme Court in November.

The games industry may well be in a minority, if a recent survey conducted for a pressure group called Common Sense Media is representative of the public at large.

According to its August poll of 2100 US adults, 72 per cent back laws to ban the sale of ultra-violent or sexually violent video games without parental consent.

But turn the question on its head, the Entertainment Software Association retorts and ask American adults if video games should be afforded the protection of the First Amendment, and 78 per cent of adults agree, according to its research.

Common Sense Media has filed an Amicus brief in the US Supreme Court's examination of the constitutionality of a 2005 California law which bans the sale of violent games to children. The law was struck down by a federal judge citing First Amendment free speech issues before it could go into effect. Since then California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has appealed the decision and lost. Last year his administration petitioned the Supreme Court to consider the issue once and for all.

The Supremes will hear oral arguments in November.

The ESA says the industry's voluntary ratings system, which sees the sales of 'M' rated games banned to minors, works well and that games should not be treated any differently from any other form of First Amendment protected material, such as books, music and films.

The nuances of this argument are a little hard to grasp, since the outcome is the same, whether enshrined in law or not - that minors can't buy "M" or "AO"rated games from stores. Presumably, punitive sanctions may differ, or maybe it is just a point of principle that the two sides are going to war over

The ESA argues that in any case playing violent games causes no psychological or neurological damage in youngsters. As a parent of teenagers who play video games, some violent, from time to time, I side with the ESA on this.

It's Facebook wot's evil.

The ESA has marshalled its arguments against the California law here.

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