A woman plays with an XBOX games console
A woman plays with an XBOX games console - 
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The U.S. Supreme Court hears a case today that could have a big effect on violent video games. Video game developers cite the first amendment when states such as California want to fine retailers who sell those gruesome games to kids.

From Silicon Valley, reporter Steve Henn has more.

Steve Henn: Steve Papoutsis runs a team at Entertainment Arts building a new game called "Dead Space 2."

Steve Papoutsis: Our protagonist, Isaac Clark, fights to destroy a government plot to resurrect an evil artifact known as 'the marker.'

Clark battles a giant mechanical robot zombie scorpion and hordes of ghouls. It sounds ridiculous but the trailer gave me chills.

And the $10 billion gaming industry has a voluntary ratings that are designed to keep games like this away from kids. But...

Leland Yee: There's no teeth behind the rating system.

That's California state senator Leland Yee. He authored a bill that would fine retailers $1000 for selling ultra-violent video games to kids. The industry challenged that law, and it was overturned. But today the Supreme Court hears California's appeal, and that has Steve Papoutsis worried.

Papoutsis: I just want to make sure that our form of media is treated the same way as film and books.

If the law's upheld, designers will still be free to make any game they like but retailers will need to be very careful about who they sell those games to.

In Silicon Valley, I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.