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Article updated: 11/10/2010 4:31 PM

Ban kids from buying violent video games in Illinois?

By Mike Riopell

California's pending U.S. Supreme Court case over violent and sexually explicit video games could have big implications in Illinois.

The golden state is fighting to keep its ban on the sale of adult-themed games to minors, a law that's "virtually identical" to one approved in Illinois in 2005, said Entertainment Software Association spokesman Don Hewitt.

But the Illinois law was found unconstitutional and was struck down in court. So young gamers kept the right to buy violent games here.

Now, if the Supreme Court lets California keep its violent video games ban, Illinois' could be allowed to follow suit.

It wouldn't be automatic, said Alexander Tsesis, professor of law at Loyola University Chicago.

Court appeal deadlines have long since run out on Illinois' video games law, Tsesis said. But if the court allowed, Illinois lawmakers might be able to start over and approve a new ban on selling adult games to minors based on the guidelines the justices handed down. Other states could do the same, too.

"I think this will have a huge impact," Tsesis said.

Then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich led Illinois' charge to try to keep violent games out of the hands of young people. After months of debate, lawmakers approved the ban.

State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, an Aurora Democrat, carried the Illinois video games legislation in the state House. She said many of the original critics of Blagojevich's proposal argued the law was unconstitutional.

Chapa LaVia said, though, that if the court rules video game bans are acceptable, she'd like to push for restrictions in Illinois again.

"Absolutely," she said. "I'd be more than interested to revisit it."

Of course, if the court rejects California's law, it would likely remain "game over" in Illinois' as well.

Supporters of a ban argue that children should be protected from graphic depictions of sex and violence found in some of the industry's most popular games, just as minors aren't supposed to be allowed to rent or buy especially violent or sexually explicit movies.

But the video game industry says restricting the sales of their games blocks free speech. So far, lower courts have agreed.

The Supreme court took arguments in the case last week, but it's unclear when they'll hand down a ruling.

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