Michigan Video Game Law Tossed

Back in 2005, our grandstanding governor Jennifer Granholm called for the legislature to pass a bill to ban the sale of “violent” video games to minors. The legislature granted her request, and the bill was signed into law in September of 2005.

This month, U.S. District Court Judge George Caram Steeh issued a permanent injunction against the ban, finding it unconstitutional. In his decision to issue the injunction, Steeh wrote that,

The interactive, or functional aspect, in video games can be said to enhance the expressive elements even more than other media by drawing the player closer to the characters and becoming more involved in the plot of the game than by simply watching a movie or television show. It would be impossible to separate the functional aspects of a video game from the expressive, inasmuch as they are so closely intertwined and dependent on each other in creating the virtual experience.

That’s a fancy way of saying that the interactive nature of video games does not — as Michigan had argued — provide them with less First Amendment protection than other media, such as novels or movies.

Although the Michigan law would have only prevented the sale of games to minors, Granholm showed her true intent in taking on the craptastic “25 to Life” (which Gamespot describes as “a lifelessly generic shooter that, at times, feels like Max Payne without the fun.”)

In an official press release Granholm argued that not only should the game not be sold to minors, but that it should not be stocked at all by Michigan retailers,

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm last week called on retailers across Michigan to support a national boycott of the video game “25 to Life” by not selling the game in their stores. In a letter to the retailers, Granholm said taking the game off store shelves is a critical step in the fight to keep inappropriate and dangerous forms of entertainment out of the hands of our children.

“Taking this game off your shelves is not only the best way to ensure that it does not end up in the hands of children, it also sends a message of support to our law enforcement community that we will not support those who would profit from the production and sale of such games, no matter what the intended audience,” Granholm wrote.

Right, and having Michigan cable companies boycott HBO is the best way to make sure children don’t watch “The Sopranos.”


Breaking: Michigan Violent Games Law Thrown Out. GameDaily, April 3, 2006.

Governor Granholm Continues to Fight to Keep Violent and Sexually Explicit Video Games Away from Children. Press Release, March 15, 2006.

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