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Michigan Judge quashes violent videogames bill

The Michigan violent videogames bill has received a permanent injunction against its implementation into law following a final ruling from Judge George Carem Steeh, who found the bill to be unconstitutional and refuted the supporting evidentiary research.

Michigan's violent videogames bill has received a permanent injunction after a judge ruled that it was unconstitutional and refuted the evidentiary research put forward by its supporters.

Judge George Carem Steeh issued a temporary injunction in November, stating at the time that "it is unlikely that the State can demonstrate a compelling interest in preventing a perceived 'harm.'"

In his final ruling on the case, Judge Steeh refuted the assertion that videogames are less entitled to First Amendment protection (the basis on which this, and several similar bills are being contested in court) simply because of their interactive nature.

"It would be impossible to separate the functional aspects of a video game from the expressive, in as much as they are so closely intertwined and dependent on each other in creating the virtual experience."

Expanding on the statements issued during the November hearing, and echoing opinions of numerous researchers looking into the effect of violent videogames on minors, Judge Steeh stated that the supporting studies "have not provided any evidence that the relationship between violent video games and aggressive behaviour exists."

"The research not only fails to provide concrete evidence that there is a connection between violent media and aggressive behaviour, it also fails to distinguish between video games and other forms of media," Judge Steeh added.

Applauding the decision, Entertainment Software Association president Douglas Lowenstein commented: "Judge Steeh's ruling represents a sweeping rejection of the state's claims regarding the harmful effects of violent video games and we will move immediately for reimbursement of the substantial legal fees incurred in this court fight which the state could have, and should have, never triggered."

"It is noteworthy that Judge Steeh specifically chastised the state for not doing what we urged them to do from the start, which is to find less restrictive ways to help ensure that parents make sound choices about the games their kids play. With this wasteful litigation behind us, we hope the state will now do just that and we remain ready to work cooperatively with them," he added.

The Michigan ruling marks the sixth time in three years that a court has found the various iterations of the violent videogames bill to be unconstitutional, and the impact of this latest decision is likely to cement the precedent already established in overturning any remaining or future bills.

Author

Paul Loughrey

Contributor