The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan granted the Entertainment Software Association’s (ESA) request for a preliminary injunction to block implementation of the recently enacted Michigan statute seeking to ban the sale of certain video games to minors.

In his order, Judge Steeh found that “it is unlikely that the State can demonstrate a compelling interest in preventing a perceived ‘harm.’”  Further, he wrote, “the Act will likely have a chilling effect on adults’ expression, as well as expression that is fully protected as to minors.  The response to the Act’s threat of criminal penalties will likely be responded to by self-censoring by game creators, distributors and retailers, including ultimately pulling ‘T’ and ‘M’-rated games off stores shelves altogether.”

Significantly, Judge Steeh found the brain imaging and social science research put forward by the state, the very same research relied upon by legislators in California and Illinois, was unpersuasive and insufficient to sustain the argument that violent video games cause aggressive behavior. 

In response, Douglas Lowenstein, president of the ESA, said:

“We are gratified that Judge Steeh has issued this preliminary injunction and in so doing has suggested that the arguments and research relied on by Governor Granholm and the Legislature are weak and unpersuasive.  Rather than continuing to play politics and pursuing this case to its inevitable defeat, further wasting Michigan taxpayers’ dollars along the way, we hope the state will start to join us in a common effort to take steps that actually help parents raise their kids in a healthy and safe way.”