Law has a major influence on the video game market. Depending on the laws within an area, some games might be censored or banned to meet local requirements. Conversely, video game companies depend on laws to protect against piracy.
The Legality of Regulating Games
Video game regulation has been a thorny topic since the 1990's. Early controversy over violent and sexual game content led to the creation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board, or ESRB, in 1994. This self-regulatory system rates video games released in North America, with ratings being prominently displayed on the game media and/or box art upon release.
Some countries, such as Japan with the Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO), leave game regulation to non-profit organizations. Others, like Australia and Brazil, leave regulation in the hands of the government. In general, government-run boards tend to be the harshest, often preventing major games from being sold in stores.
Various laws and decisions have been passed by the United States government regarding the legality of regulating games. In some cases, such as 2005's Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association case, video games were found to be protected as free speech. However, laws have also been passed in several U.S. states regulating the sale of video games considered to be violent, similar to anti-pornography laws.
Currently, video games are regulated in some fashion in Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, Utah, and Washington.