Bay Area video game giant says 'everybody wins' in nixing of ban 

The video game industry breathed a sigh of relief Monday at news of the court decision striking down California’s ban on the sales of “ultraviolent” games to minors on grounds the law violated constitutional free-speech guarantees.

John Riccitiello, CEO of Redwood City-based Electronic Arts, said in a statement the ruling affirmed the rights of game developers, of parents to decide what’s appropriate for their children and of retailers who won’t be in fear of prosecution. Under the law, they faced fines of up to $1,000 per violation.

“Everybody wins on this decision,” Riccitiello said.

Electronic Arts games such as Dead Space, Battlefield and Medal of Honor would have been directly affected by the ban.

Video game retailers insisted the industry was doing its part shielding children from violent games through its own voluntary rating system.

Retailers “understand that they have a responsibility to help parents make informed decisions about the video games they buy for their children and to ensure that children are not able to purchase Mature-rated games without their parents’ permission,” said Bo Anderson, president and CEO of the Entertainment Merchants Association. The group sued California after then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law in 2005, halting its implementation.

State Sen. Leland Yee, a child psychologist and the bill’s sponsor, said he was disappointed in the decision of the court, which he said had sided with “corporate America.”

Yee said the voluntary rating system was insufficient.

But Riccitiello said, “Throughout American history, every new creative medium has to fight to establish its rights. Like books and film, video games have had to face down censors and stand up for creative freedom.”

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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