Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Its a Big Day in Politics

As everyone should already know, today is Election Day! Luke and I tried to vote today, but apparently our polling place didn't have our names on the list despite us having confirmation that we in the right place. We had to vote provisional, which is super annoying. In the same time frame we were there, several people seemed to have similar problems, which is a bit disheartening. Yay for disorganized polling places!

Anyways, I wanted to turn your attention to something else that's happening today: Oral arguments in front of the Supreme Court regarding a violent video game law in California. In case you don't know anything about this, let me link you over to Kotaku, which has been doing full coverage of this over the past few days. Here is an excellent summary of the law and its history.

Luckily, things seemed to have gone well for the video game industry today. The Supreme Court was pretty harsh on the plantifs, probably because Alito and Sotomoyor review games in their off time (its a secret no one is supposed to know). Here is a quick wrap-up of some of the highlights in the oral arguments. Its definitely worth the read. In case you wanted to be super thorough, here is the entire full court transcript. In case you wanted to be lazy, here is my favorite part of today's proceedings:

Justice Kagan to California's Morazzini: You think Mortal Kombat is prohibited by this statute?
Morazzini: I believe it's a candidate, Your Honor, but I haven't played the game and been exposed to it sufficiently to judge for myself.
Kagan: It's a candidate, meaning, yes, a reasonable jury could find that Mortal Kombat, which is an iconic game, which I am sure half of the clerks who work for us spend considerable amounts of time in their adolescence playing.
Scalia: I don't know what she's talk about.
Morazzini: Justice Kagan, by candidate, I meant that the video game industry should look at it, should take a long look at it. But I don't know off the top of my head. I'm willing to state right here in open court that the video game Postal II, yes, would be covered by this act. I'm willing to guess that games we describe in our brief such as MadWorld would be covered by the act. I think the video game industry —
Sotomayor: Would a video game that portrayed a Vulcan as opposed to a human being, being maimed and tortured, would that be covered by the act?
Morazzini: No, it wouldn't, Your Honor, because the act is only directed towards the range of options that are able to be inflicted on a human being.
Sotomayor: So if the video producer says this is not a human being, it's an android computer simulated person, then all they have to do is put a little artificial feature on the creature and they could sell the video game?
Morazzini: Under the act, yes, because California's concern, I think this is one of the reasons that sex and violence are so similar, these are base physical acts we are talking about, Justice Sotomayor. So limiting, narrowing our law here in California, there in California to violence — violent depictions against human beings.
Sotomayor: So what happens when the character gets maimed, head chopped off and immediately after it happens they spring back to life and they continue their battle. Is that covered by your act? Because they haven't been maimed and killed forever. Just temporarily.
Morazzini: I would think so. The intent of the law is to limit minors' access to those games.
This game would totally be fine under the law assuming that dead thing in the bathroom is an elf.

On a related note, Sotomoyor, Alito, and Princess Peach are currently playing through Kirby's Epic Yarn and will be discussing it shortly. Sotomoyor and Alito would've been ready to review the game sooner, but this case got in the way.

1 comment:

  1. I would not want to present any case before Sotomayor. She would turn me into a Vulcan and then maim and torture me.

    That said, the lawyer arguing the state's position did not do a good job fielding these questions. Of course it could be that there is just no real differentiation between violence against humans and human-looking androids, and this law is completely impractical.