The California legislature is currently debating a law forbidding violent video games. The bill seeks to control electronic games that "taken as a whole . . . appeal to minors' morbid interest in violence, that enable the player to virtually inflict serious injury upon human beings or characters with substantially human characteristics in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, and that, taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors."
This sort of regulation crops up often these days, and obviously implicates First Amendment principles. Over at Findlaw, Professor Vikram David Amar (UC Hastings Law School) and Professor Alan Brownstein (UC Davis Law School) discuss whether the First Amendment will forbid this sort of regulation, and they do a nice job of explaining why there is no clear answer. Their conclusion, isn't going to win them any friends in the game developer camp:
"In the end, the First Amendment doesn't necessarily foreclose sensible regulation in this area. For that reason, states like California should feel free to experiment in this realm if experimentation otherwise makes sense."