What IF: Gaming, Intellectual Freedom and the Law

Office for Intellectual Freedom

ALA TechSource, in collaboration with the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), held the first annual Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium, July 22-24, 2007, in Chicago. Top gamers, librarians, and others discussed how gaming impacts our nation’s libraries.

Participating in the symposium were Judith Krug, Office for Intellectual Freedom Director, and Katherine Fallow, a partner in Jenner & Block. The presentation, What IF: Gaming, Intellectual Freedom and the Law is available as an MP3 audio file.

In the presentation, Fallow discusses how video games are under scrutiny around the country as some parents and special interest groups raise concerns about the topics and themes contained in various games. While a few groups call for laws regulating access to games based on their content, others advocate for an outright ban on violent games. Several states have passed laws restricting minors’ access to “violent” video games, but every such law has been invalidated by the courts as a violation of the First Amendment. These organizations and individuals are likely to turn their attention to libraries as they begin to add games to their collections. Fallow also explains how to apply intellectual freedom principles to games and gaming activities, and discusses video games in the context of the First Amendment. In addition, Fallow discusses recent court decisions addressing minors’ access to video games, the legal status of game ratings, and policy developments.

Thirty-four additional presentations, including keynote presentations by James Paul Gee, Henry Jenkins, Liz Lawley, and Gregory Trefry, also are available as MP3 audio files.

For more information about video games and violence, see Henry Jenkin’s 2004 essay “Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked,” in which he deflates eight common video-game myths, including those that suggest violent games promote violent behavior.

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