When pixels speak: why video games deserve free speech protection; why video games will not receive free speech protection
This dissertation examines how games have been construed legally and publicly
and compares the nature of games to the de facto legal criteria: in order for games to
receive free speech protection, games must inform and communicate. In Chapter I, I
review the literature surrounding the effects of violent video games. This literature
review serves as a foundation for the rhetorical nature of the legal controversy since the
controversy has no clear-cut answer to the effects of video games. Instead of a clear
"Yes"Ã?Â?Ã?Â? or "Ã?Â?Ã?Â?No"Ã?Â?Ã?Â? answer, game effects researchers can only posit "Maybe"Ã?Â?Ã?Â? and "No"Ã?Â?Ã?Â?
findings. Game antagonists employed long-shot and shoddy research to argue their case
that violent games produce violent people.
The next two chapters lay a foundation for justifying why games have become
increasingly controversial to date. In Chapter II, I outline a history of games and argue
that games became communicative in the early 1990s. As a response to graphically
communicative games and congressional bullying, the video game industry created a self
regulatory rating board which should have quelled the public controversy. It did not. In Chapter III, I argue that Columbine changed the face of the game industry in
the eyes of the public, as a matter of public morality. Before 1999, the public viewed
games in a positive light, embodying one of America'Ã?Â?Ã?Â?s pastimes and helping the disabled
with their motor skills. After the events at Columbine, the public saw the video game
industry as an unruly and rogue force.
In Chapter IV, I explain the legal hurtles the game industry faces in becoming
protected speech. While video games have become communicative and informative, they
likely will not receive free speech protection because of the public scapegoating of the
industry during the last two and a half decades. I conclude by discussing the latest Grand
Theft Auto "Ã?Â?Ã?Â?Hot Coffee"Ã?Â?Ã?Â? controversy and how game developers remain gun-shy about the
free speech issue.
Advisor:Aune, James Arnt; Burkart, Patrick; Dorsey, Leroy; Gatson, Sarah
School:Texas A&M University
School Location:USA - Texas
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:free speech video games
Date of Publication:05/01/2003