Are video games speech?
A recent article in Salon discusses a recent court ruling that video games are not speech, in the sense that they do not have protection under the First Amendment (to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech; I imagine we Americans mention it often enough that pretty much everyone’s heard of it by now, but one can’t be too certain).
Apparently, the logic of the ruling lies in the judgement that video games are not forms of expression, like movies or books, but are more like board games and sports, which are evidently not protected. The thing is, video games are awfully hard to categorize that way. On one end, they often are reproductions of board games or are highly abstract, like Tetris. On the other end, games like the recent editions of Final Fantasy draw their attraction more from the story than their gameplay, which can be quite simplistic. (Not that Final Fantasy is simple; the management aspects can be quite daunting.)
The author, James Wagner Au, is a big proponent of the idea that video games are working towards becoming an art form of the level of movies (which is why he has a sometimes-excessive focus on characterization, IMHO). That’s certainly one direction the field is going, but “video game” is a very broad category. About all they have in common is the “video” and “game” parts (there’s also some sort of computer involved in every case I’m aware of). Certainly, some video games are not speech, in the sense that they’re too abstract to communicate ideas; but I won’t say that no video games are speech. #