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Judge Denies First Amendment

A federal judge in St. Louis, Stephen Limbaugh, has ruled that video games are not constitutionally protected forms of speech. Before making the decision, Limbaugh said he reviewed four different video games and found "no conveyance of ideas, expression, or anything else that could possibly amount to speech. The court finds that video games have more in common with board games and sports than they do with motion pictures." He went on to deny a request by the video game industry group to throw out a St. Louis County ordinance regulating access to arcade and home video games.

However, this decision will not be taken lightly. "The decision is clearly in conflict with virtually every other federal court decision on this and related issues," group president Doug Lowenstein said in a statement. "We're confident that our position will be sustained on appeal."

While I can understand the need to limit the sales of excessively violent or sexual games to minors, does Judge Stephen Limbaugh have any right to state that video games are not protected as free speech under the constitution? If games did not express ideas, would we have ever had the question of the existence of God in Xenogears? The search to find out who we really are in FFX? The creativity and expression of people who create mods for games like Half-Life and Quake?

Do all games ask philosophical questions? No. But those that don't express themselves through art, music, and graphics.

Lets hope that in the appeal process that the ruling Judge Stephen Limbaugh made is overturned and that video games are recognized as free speech like they should be.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 04/26/02

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