Games Implicated in Schwarzenegger v. EMA

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 3  

Doom 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 Warrior

Full 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 War

God 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 Empire

Jade 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 Kombat 

This 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. 
 

Pong 

Yep, 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 2 

Postal 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 4 

Referenced 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 references 

Bugs 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.
8 Comments
9 Comments
Posted by SuicidalSnowman

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 3  

Doom 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 Warrior

Full 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 War

God 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 Empire

Jade 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 Kombat 

This 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. 
 

Pong 

Yep, 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 2 

Postal 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 4 

Referenced 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 references 

Bugs 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.
Edited by Guyzea

That "meat grinder" game sounds a lot like the Punisher game which was rated M.
 
  

Posted by SuicidalSnowman
@Guyzea: Well, even if that is not the specific reference, you can be pretty sure some of those scenes were in California's materials.  I am surprised that game didn't come up by name more often.
Posted by TheFreeMan

There are actually lots of games where you can chuck people into meat grinders. Chronicles of Riddick, Punisher, Mortal Kombat (some of the stages)
 
I loved the Mortal Kombat shoutout, and the humour that the judges have about it.

Posted by SuicidalSnowman
@TheFreeMan: Ok, so the Meat Grinder reference may be too numerous.  I guess technically even Meat Boy does this, although it is too new to be in any documents. 
 
Yeah, I really appreciated the background knowledge, especially that of Kagan.  It is especially refreshing if you watched the Cop-Sexting-Blackberry case last year, when the Justices were asking things like, "If the other person can't answer my text message, do I get a busy signal?"  It is good to see them taking a real interest in getting the underlying tech down, especially since most of them are older.
Posted by Video_Game_King

Wow, I really love the ladies of the Supreme Court, including Ruth Bader Ginsberg, for whatever reason.

Posted by SuicidalSnowman
@Video_Game_King:  
RBG is awesome, despite  wearing a 1930's neckerchief.  She actually was a rare example of a working mother back when it still had a negative social stigma, and really opened some doors for women's rights. 
 
Sotomayor and Kagan are also awesome.  Both manage to come across as authoritative, friendly, and fair during arguments.  Then again, maybe its just because they are new, and we haven't had a chance to see them develop a predictable pattern.
Posted by Rockdalf

To be fair, Postal 2 is the perfect example of shit that has no literary merit.  Then again, that's on par with comparing someones bathroom stall scrawling about who they're going to kill to Catcher in the Rye.

Posted by SuicidalSnowman
@Rockdalf:  
I agree. Postal 2 set out not to be good, but just to be so over the top that it would get news coverage and hopefully get purchased for the novelty of "seeing it for yourself." 
  
Now, I know that the Uwe Boll film that appeared on TANG was trying to make some satirical commentary.  Perhaps that exists on some level in one of the Postal games. 
 
On the other hand, it is good to see that they do recognize games as having stories, and literary merit.  Keep in mind too that literary merit is not necessarily a game that tells an amazing story, it could also be a highly political statement, or something of scientific value.