Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a law aiming to terminate sales of “Grand Theft Auto” and certain other types of videogames to minors.
Law imposes a fine of up to $1,000 on retailers who sell or rent games deemed violent to people under 18.
The Entertainment Software Assn. and Video Software Dealers Assn., trade orgs for vidgame publishers and retailers, immediately filed suit, claiming the bill violates the First Amendment.
California becomes the third state with a law banning sales of violent games to minors. Michigan and Illinois recently enacted similar legislation; both face lawsuits by the ESA and VSDA.
The Motion Picture Assn. of America lobbied against the bill but has thus far not joined in litigation against it.
Laws don’t mention ratings system ESA already has in place, used by all major retailers on a voluntary basis.
“Many of these games are made for adults, and choosing games that are appropriate for kids should be a decision made by their parents,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement.
Opponents claim the new law is too vague, leaving retailers uncertain about what they are allowed to sell to minors.
“Under AB 1179, juries would be called on to decide, on a case-by-case basis, whether a particular videogame meets the definition of a ‘violent videogame,’ ” said VSDA topper Bo Andersen. “One jury may find that a particular game is a ‘violent videogame’ and another jury may find that it is not.”
Similar laws in Indianapolis, St. Louis County and Washington State have been struck down by courts on First Amendment grounds.