Groups Fight for Violent Video Games

Lawsuit Claims New City Law is Unconstitutional

  INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Two video game industry groups filed a lawsuit Monday claiming a new city law banning minors from playing violent and sexually explicit video games is unconstitutional.

The law requires coin-operated games featuring graphic violence or strong sexual content to have warning labels and be kept at least 10 feet from nonviolent game machines. The machines must also be separated by a curtain or wall so minors cannot see them. The law bars people under age 18 from such games unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Cite First Amendment

The American Amusement Machine Association and the Amusement and Music Operators Association hope to obtain a temporary restraining order to keep the law from taking effect Sept. 1. They say they support the city's desire to curb juvenile violence, but believe the ordinance violates First Amendment rights.

"What's next after banning video games depicting violence?" AMOA president Frank Seninsky said in a statement. "Movies? Books? ... We are on the edge of a slippery slope, and our industry has been forced to litigate to protect core constitutional rights."

The federal lawsuit names Mayor Bart Peterson, Marion County Prosecutor Scott Newman and city and county law officers who would enforce the ordinance.

Lawsuit expected

Mayoral spokesman Steve Campbell said the city expected a lawsuit over the ordinance -- believed to be the first of its kind -- but remains confident it will meet constitutional muster.

"We can't ever guarantee anything that goes on in a court of law, but we did our homework on this one," Campbell said. "We did quite a bit of research to make sure that this would stand up under judicial scrutiny."