Judge blocks Washington anti-game law

A federal judge has temporarily blocked a Washington state law prohibiting the sale of violent video games, according to an article from CNet.

The law, set to go into effect later this month, is one of the few laws to set a new standard for what is considered to be a violent game. Most previous laws of this ilk, including the city ordinance in St. Louis, MO that was overturned earlier this year, have depended on the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) to determine the suitability of games. The ESRB is the video game equivalent of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) in that it issues ratings in hopes that the government doesn't impose ratings from the outside.

In this case, the State of Washington is trying to outlaw violence against police officers or other officials, that they state could be used to desensitize children. The law called for a $500 per sale fine to be levied against the store owners who sold games to children under the age of 17.

This law is now on hold, pending a final ruling, but the judge in the case has so far ruled that the free speech concerns raised by the IDSA (Interactive Digital Software Association) were indeed correct and that the rules by the State were much too broad in targeting all violence against police officers and officials, and too narrow in that it didn't even attempt to address the issue of general violence. Part of his argument is that this would continue to allow games that depicted the indiscriminate slaughter of innocent civilians by puppet regimes, while disallowing games that showed armed resistance against brutal or corrupt regimes.