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Age restrictions for violent games passed by Illinois state House

The latest move by a US state to introduce legislation restricting the sale of violent videogames has been passed by a huge margin in Illinois' state House - despite fears that the bill may be unconstitutional.

The legislation, proposed by state governor Rod Blagojevich, would make it illegal for videogames considered to be excessively violent or sexually explicit to anyone under the age of eighteen.

The House voted in favour of the bill by a 91 to 19 margin, but debate on the topic was more heated than that vote would suggest - with even some of the law's supporters expressing concerns over the way the bill is worded.

Democrat representative Lou Lang, who is in favour of legislation against what he described as "disgusting, violent and horrible games", admitted that the bill is seriously flawed.

"The truth of the matter is that it is unconstitutional as drafted," he said. "The truth of the matter is that it is vague. The standards are vague. The penalties are vague. The interpretations of the statute are vague. And because of that, courts all over this country have held bills that look just like this unconstitutional."

Despite this, the bill was still passed - after a debate which included one representative claiming that children are "watching police officers getting their heads blown off; they're defecating on people; they're getting extra points for sleeping with prostitutes," while another accused the governor of promoting the patently unconstitutional legislation despite knowing that it would get struck down.

The Illinois law is just the latest in a series of attempts to legislation against the sale of violent games to minors. Laws in Washington, Missouri and Indiana have already been struck down for being a violation of free speech, while similar bills proposed in California have been severely watered down before being passed, and now simply call on retailers to display information about age ratings more prominently.

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Rob Fahey avatar
Rob Fahey: Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.