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Judge blocks Illinois violent videogames law

The Entertainment Software Association has announced another court victory for the games industry, as an Illinois District Judge rules in favour of the ESA and halts the implementation of the proposed violent videogames state law.

The Entertainment Software Association has announced another court victory for the games industry after an Illinois district judge ruled in favour of the ESA, halting the implementation of the proposed violent videogames state law.

Arguing that the Illinois law and several similar laws in different US states was unconstitutionally vague and challenging the research used to support the law, the ESA issued a statement following the ruling, which was issued by Judge Matthew S. Kennelly.

âWe said a year ago when the Governor of Illinois proposed this statute that the court would strike down this law, and that it would be a shame to waste the time and money of Illinoisâ taxpayers on a political exercise. Todayâs decision proves that prediction was accurate in all respects. Itâs unfortunate that the money and time that couldâve been used to help Illinois families and children were wasted. This is the fifth decision of this type," said ESA president, Douglas Lowenstein.

"Itâs our hope that politicians will start to work cooperatively with the industry by helping parents in ways that are constitutional, effective, and sensible. We again assert that between the powerful tools of reliable ESRB ratings, parental education, and now with the recent announcement that all next generation consoles will have parental controls, there is a wealth of ways that those concerned can ensure that children do not have access to inappropriate games.â

In his ruling, Judge Kennelly refuted the research put forward by the state, stating: "Defendants have failed to present substantial evidence showing that playing violent video games causes minors to have aggressive feelings or engage in aggressive behaviour...With these limited findings, it is impossible to know which way the causal relationship runs: it may be that aggressive children may also be attracted to violent video games."

"If controlling access to allegedly 'dangerous' speech is important in promoting the positive psychological development of children, in our society that role is properly accorded to parents and families, not the State," Judge Kelly added.

The decision marks the second court ruling in as many weeks where evidence supporting the new laws, which seek to make it illegal for retailers to sell violent videogames to minors, has been rejected at District Court level. The ESA recently obtained a preliminary block on a similar law in Michigan, and continues to defend the games industry against proposed legislation in California. The trade body is also contesting Senator Clinton's Family Entertainment Protection Act, which will be presented to congress in a matter of weeks.

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Paul Loughrey

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