Court rejects Illinois video game law

The video game industry has won another victory in its battle against a state law designed to criminalize sales and rentals of violent or sexually explicit games to minors.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Monday affirmed a lower court decision declaring unconstitutional an Illinois state law that proposed such restrictions. The Entertainment Software Association and others had lodged the complaint the day after the law was enacted in July 2005, arguing it violated First Amendment protections.

The law didn't pass constitutional muster because legislators hadn't crafted it in a way was "sufficiently narrowly tailored," the three-judge panel wrote in a 21-page opinion (click for PDF).

Just look at the game "God of War," they said, in which players contend with Greek mythological creatures--and may encounter exposed breasts along the way.

"As we have suggested in the past, there is serious reason to believe that a statute sweeps too broadly when it prohibits a game that is essentially an interactive, digital version of the Odyssey," the judges wrote.

The ruling isn't the first to toss out state laws aimed at shielding children from video games perceived as inappropriate. Federal judges have already blocked similar laws in Louisiana, Minnesota, Michigan and California, and others face pending challenges.

About the author

    Anne Broache
    covers Capitol Hill goings-on and technology policy from Washington, D.C.
     

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