Judge rules in favour of ESA

Over violence in games bill.

The Entertainment Software Association has announced that the US District Court has granted a preliminary injunction to prevent the implementation of Michigan's violence in games bill.

The ESA has been instrumental in opposing the introduction of new laws which would make the sale of certain videogames to minors a criminal offence. The industry trade body is currently seeking to overturn similar proposed laws in Illinois and California after persistent discussions with politicians, including Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, failed to prevent the controversial bills from being passed into law.

According to a statement from the ESA, Judge Steeh found that "it is unlikely that the State can demonstrate a compelling interest in preventing a perceived 'harm.'"

Judge Steeh continued: “The Act will likely have a chilling effect on adults’ expression, as well as expression that is fully protected as to minors. The response to the Act’s threat of criminal penalties will likely be responded to by self-censoring by game creators, distributors and retailers, including ultimately pulling 'T' and 'M'-rated games off stores shelves altogether."

More significantly for the ESA, the judge declared that evidence put forward in favour of the law, including brain imaging and a selection of social science research, was "unpersuasive and insufficient to sustain the argument that violent video games cause aggressive behaviour." The same evidence was used to pass similar laws in Illinois and California, and the Michigan ruling could have serious implications, strengthening the ESA's case in the other states.

ESA president Doug Lowenstein commented: "We are gratified that Judge Steeh has issued this preliminary injunction and in so doing has suggested that the arguments and research relied on by Governor Granholm and the Legislature are weak and unpersuasive."

"Rather than continuing to play politics and pursuing this case to its inevitable defeat, further wasting Michigan taxpayers’ dollars along the way, we hope the state will start to join us in a common effort to take steps that actually help parents raise their kids in a healthy and safe way."

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