This post is a list of the games currently implicated in the Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association case before the United States Supreme Court. Please review my earlier blog post for a more in-depth look at what is at stake, as well as a summary of the oral arguments. This post, while factually sounds and informative, is a little more lighthearted in tone.
Games listed in Alphabetical order.
Doom 3Doom 3 is mentioned in passing as an example of a game that would be restricted by California's law, but where the book or movie with the same plot and story would not be. See Resident Evil and Rainbow Six below. This reference comes in the EMA brief.
Full Spectrum WarriorFull Spectrum Warrior appears out of nowhere in the EMA brief. It is mentioned as an example of a game where the characters are designed to be obviously human, in contrast to God of War or Resident Evil zombies.
God of WarGod of War is referenced in the EMA's brief. California included it in their presentation of violent games. The EMA notes that it "tracks the Homeric epic in content and theme" and uses a mythological story that is widely available to minors. The quest is lauded for being "complex" and taking place in ancient Athens. The characters are also noted as not necessarily human.
Jade EmpireJade Empire is mentioned in passing in the EMA brief. It is cited as an example of a game where characters are only ambiguously human, and therefore possibly not under the California law. The brief also notes that players may choose to wound enemy characters in certain ways. The EMA argues that despite this seemingly violent and barbaric action, the California law would not apply to such games. While a dangerous game, this is done to show that the current law is poorly written.
Mortal KombatThis game has already had its own share of legal battles, and of course gets dragged into this one as well. However, in a flattering move, Justice Kagan refers to it as "iconic" and proffers that "half of our clerks have spent considerable time" playing it. She asked Mr. Morazzini, the lawyer for California, if Mortal Kombat would be covered by California's law. He said that he believed it to be a candidate, but would not say for certain.
PongYep, pong gets discussed alongside Postal and Mortal Kombat! Pong, which has the rare distinction of containing NO violence whatsoever (unless you possibly count winning as somehow violent), still finds its way into this discussion. Actually, proving herself to be well informed of the subject material, Justice Kagan mentioned during arguments that Pong was the first game (not technically true but close enough). She also correctly reported that it was basically "tennis on your T.V." and that it had no literary element. This is interesting because it could bring games such as Pong outside the First Amendment protection.
Postal 2Postal 2 is by far the most commonly referenced game in this case. It apparently occupies a special place in California's video presentation on violent video games. Both California and the EMA make reference to it in their briefs. California points out some of the particularly gratuitous violence. The EMA makes the point that the game does have some message, even if it is light on story. During oral argument, Justice Kagan noted that it was the only game currently covered by California's challenged law. Additionally, Chief Justice Roberts made reference to pouring gasoline over victims, setting them on fire, and then urinating on them. I am not positive, but I believe this is Postal 2 gameplay. The other depiction of ultimate violence is hitting schoolgirls with a shovel until they beg for mercy, and then decapitating them. Again, Chief Justice Roberts discusses this. Finally, Roberts also referenced Postal 2 in asking if it should be protected for an 18 year old, but not a 10 year old.
Tom Clancy Rainbow Six (sic)Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six comes up in the EMA brief. California inserted Rainbow Six into the footage of violent games potentially controlled by this law. The EMA notes that there is a book that mirrors the plot that minors in California may purchase. The brief also notes that the game has a detailed plot and battles of good and evil, much like Resident Evil 4, below. The brief is very clear that it would be wrong to allow teens to buy Rainbow Six books and movies, but not games.
Resident Evil 4Referenced in the brief of the EMA as one of the games appearing in California's presentation on violent games. The EMA notes that Resident Evil 4, while showing violence against zombies, also has a detailed plot and battles of good vs. evil. In addition, the brief notes that Resident Evil games have plots and violence paralleled in movies, which are available to minors. The EMA brief also makes reference that some characters in Resident Evil are ambiguous as to whether they are human or not. This is important because the California law specifically only applies to human depictions in games. The EMA brief also notes that players are able to wound enemies by shooting them in the leg, and then escaping, in order to conserve ammo.
Other referencesBugs Bunny
Justice Sotomayor pointed out during oral argument that Bugs Bunny cartoons have the same level of violence as games, according to some of the studies cited by California. She asked if perhaps Bugs Bunny should be only allowed to be purchased by those over 18.
Grimm's Fairy Tales
Grimm's seems to be the Mortal Kombat of literature. Every time violence comes up, Grimm's gets cited as a terrible example of things that children are exposed to.
Finally, this reference that I could not identify:
Justice Alito mentioned "disposing of your enemies in a meat grinder" during arguments. I have no idea which game, if any, he got this from. If anyone knows, let me know, and I will add it in.