With more graphic violence and adult situations in video games today, many politicians and parents are increasingly concerned about games' influence on children. Several tragedies have been blamed on games, such as the Beltway Sniper in Washington, D.C., who supposedly practiced using Halo, and Devin Moore killing cops in Alabama because he was "trained" to do so by Grand Theft Auto. With this, there's growing pressure to have game ratings regulated by our government.
In 2005, California passed Civil Code 1746-1746.5 to label certain violent video games and prohibit the sale or rental of such games to minors, only to have it overturned as unconstitutional; last month the state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2006, Minnesota passed a law that fined consumers under the age of 17 for purchasing "Mature"-rated video games; this was also deemed unconstitutional within a month. In 2008, Massachusetts proposed a measure to criminalize the sale or rental of violent video games, but the effort was reconsidered because of the legal failures of similar acts. In March of this year, the Utah legislature voted to fine retailers selling "Mature" titles to underage buyers, but the bill was vetoed on constitutional grounds.
To date, almost $2 million in legal fees have been paid to the video-game industry because of these overturned laws. Courts have consistently ruled that video games are a form of expression (similar to books, movies, music, and television program) protected by the First Amendment - even for minors.