CENSORSHIP OF VIDEO GAMES – LEGAL ANALYSIS

INTRODUCTION

For both kids and adults, video games are becoming a popular activity. Tend to spend more time and money than ever before on digital games. The Research Center on Media and the Family has undertaken studies that show how much time adolescents spend playing video games. Concerns about minors being damaged by exposure to video games containing violent speech and visuals are often at the root of video game censorship issues. Many families and community regulatory bodies are concerned that youngsters who spend time in the virtual world of video games will imitate the violence they see in the games in the actual world. “The Atomic Energy Regulatory Association, an independent organization, assigns ratings to video games based on their sexual and violent nature”. The ratings are meant to notify shoppers about the content and maturity level of the intended audience. Government and county legislators, on the other hand, have used these ratings to suggest prohibiting minors from purchasing certain games[1]. These efforts have largely failed, but they have frequently resulted in years of investigation.

THE INVENTION OF VIDEO GAMES

Since their inception nearly 50 years ago, video games have gone a very huge way”. Take a glance at your favourite video games from your childhood to see how far game development innovation has progressed in the last generation or longer. This article will go over the fascinating history of video games, which has gone through several transformations before becoming what it is now. People have explored ways to play games on computers since the dawn of time. Such early computer scientists weren’t merely idling away their time or searching for innovative ways to amuse themselves. They needed to make games for several reasons.

Computers took up entire rooms in the 1940s, but were so pricey that only colleges and huge corporations could obtain them.” Usually, individuals had only a rudimentary knowledge of what these digital powerhouses could do, as well as a lack of familiarity with the types of mathematical formulas that these machines were routinely designed to perform.[2]

THE EVOLUTION OF VIDEO GAMES AND THE NEED FOR CENSORSHIP

With the second decade of the millennium approaches, governments in all nations have placed the Interactive Games Industry on their radar to limit the increasingly violent content in a computer or digital games intended to thrill and attract players. Children’s rights activists and anti-groups, as well as the State and National Commissions on Women and Children in various states, chanted to defend the children[3].

Issues about adolescents being damaged by exposure to violent video games containing violent speech and visuals are often at the root of video game censorship issues. Many family and community regulators are concerned that youngsters who spend time in the virtual world of video games will imitate the violence they see in the games in the real world. “The United States Supreme Court, whereas in the instance of obscene content, has never created a First Amendment exception in the hate speech and imagery.”

Instead, since this line between the transmission of ideas and plain entertainment is far too difficult for this Council to establish, “the Court has held that aggressive material is protected under the First Amendment, irrespective of its value to society.” The Entertainment Software Organization, an independent agency, assigns ratings to video games based on their sexual and violent material.

The ratings are meant to notify shoppers more about the content and level of maturity of the end-user. Local and state lawmakers, on the other hand, have used these ratings to suggest prohibiting teenagers from purchasing certain games. Such attempts have largely failed, but they also have frequently resulted in years of litigation. In the field of video game customers, Germany is one of the strongest regulators of violence. T

he legislation strongly restricts material, far more so than the neighbouring EU countries, historically and culturally and a unified national attitude. As a result, overseas creators may choose not to market to Germany, create censored products expressly for the German market, or find themself on a list of prohibited titles that are no longer available for purchase or sale. The banning of violent content from German video gamers is, nevertheless, unsuccessful due to the expansion of online buying and the availability of international merchandise.

The anti-violence implementation plans at video games have become assertive, effectively stating that the German government does not support visual bush in gameplay without implementing precautionary steps that may infringe personal rights. As a result, most nations have either regulated or outlawed parts of such games by enacting international and domestic legislation.

INDIA’S GAMING REGULATIONS

Given India’s large younger generation and the widespread availability of cellphones and internet access in rural and distant places, the internet gaming sector has already experienced phenomenal growth and has a lot of room to grow.

Games are being played by individuals of all ages around the world for their entertainment value, whether they be betting games or skill-based games[4]. Although gambling is presently prohibited in India, it has been an element of Culture since the dawn of time. The “Mahabharat”[5], one of India’s earliest mythical epics, contains evidence of Indians loving betting.

With digitalization improvements, India’s video games sector has undergone a fundamental shift. With the explosion in the number of online gaming sites over the last century, many people are wondering whether or not online video games are allowed in India. Regrettably, given the convoluted legal structure surrounding online gaming, it is difficult to provide a detailed response to the aforementioned issue. It’s a complex issue to respond to. The Indian government’s stance on gambling and betting is still ambiguous.

Some sports enjoy complete government support, whereas others, despite possessing many of the same traits, are completely ignored. “Horse racing & rummy are deemed skill games and hence have no betting restrictions, although cricket and poker do not have the same differential in the perspective of Indian legislators. In Indian law, gambling is a big grey area.” It’s strange that games like “Teen Patty” is prohibited, yet “Rummy” is permitted[6]. Horse racing, one of the easiest activities to manipulate, is permissible to bet on since it is an ability game, but cricket betting, which requires the same level of expertise, is prohibited. “Horse racing, internet poker, internet rummy, the lottery, and a few casinos are presently permitted in India”. 

The current situation in India is that online card games sites are in flux, and the Supreme Court of India has made this situation even more ambiguous and lawfully susceptible. “According to the Supreme Court’s most recent order, it will not rule on the illegality of internet games such as poker, rummy, and other similar activities”. The Supreme Court has stated that the current petitions before this solely concern offline “rummy”, and that administering internet rummy or “online poker” remains a legally dangerous area.

The ball is in the Indian govt’s court, and it must establish regulations governing internet gaming and betting in the Country.[7] The Government of India must determine not just the skills vs gambling criterion, but also the technical legal issues that arise from the use of tech in internet gaming.

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION

The government has a compelling interest in protecting kids from indecent sexual content, both psychologically and physically. Although these rules can be temporarily used because the problem of obscenity in video games is very new in India, there is a lot of room for law development in this area. Furthermore, video game censorship and controls are important because there is a large consumer base of children and youth who may not grasp the bad consequences of unrestrained and objectionable content. It is clear that the government has a compelling interest in protecting kids from indecent sexual content, both psychologically and physically.

Although these rules can be temporarily used because the problem of obscenity in video games is very new in India, there is a lot of room for law development in this area. Concerning the gaming business and censorship concerns in India, one aspect worth emphasizing is there’s no special law in India connected to the supervision of video games in terms of the content that is contained inside them. Also, no particular lawsuit can be produced those deals with the problem at hand. Furthermore, video game censorship and controls are important because there is a large consumer base of children and youth who may not grasp the bad consequences of unrestrained and objectionable content. We want to see specific regulations for banning video games enacted shortly, given their constitutional relevance and the practical negative consequences.

Author(s) Name: Siddhant Narayan (Student, Amity University, Noida)

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References:

[1] Vyas A, ‘DIGITAL GAMES, VIOLENCE AND THE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION’ (RGNUL Student Research Review (RSRR), 2021) <http://rsrr.in/2019/09/22/digital-games-freedom-of-expression/> accessed 12 July 2021

[2] ‘Video Game History’ (HISTORY, 2021) <https://www.history.com/topics/inventions/history-of-video-games> accessed 10 July 2021

[3] Garg R, ‘Laws Related to Censorship of Video Games – Ipleaders’ (iPleaders, 2021) <https://blog.ipleaders.in/laws-related-censorship-video-games/> accessed 12 July 2021

[4] Alley W, and regulations&nbspadequate A, ‘Are India’S Online Gaming Infrastructure and Regulations Adequate’ (The Financial Express, 2021) <https://www.financialexpress.com/brandwagon/writers-alley/are-indias-online-gaming-infrastructure-and-regulations-adequate/2270041/> accessed 10 July 2021

[5] ‘Video Game Censorship: Indian Purview – Media, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment – India’ (Mondaq.com, 2021) <https://www.mondaq.com/india/gaming/914002/video-game-censorship-indian-purview> accessed 11 July 2021

[6] (Icsi.edu, 2021) <https://www.icsi.edu/media/portals/22/Gaming%20Laws.pdf> accessed 9 July 2021

[7] ‘All You Need to Know About Online Gaming Laws in India’ (Our Legal World, 2021) <https://www.ourlegalworld.com/all-you-need-to-know-about-online-gaming-laws-in-india/> accessed 10 July 2021

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