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 Sunday, 29 December, 2002, 13:41 GMT
Computer games 'to be classified'
Screenshot from Half-Life
Guns are prominent in games like Half-Life
Violent computer games are to get film-style classifications, according to reports.

The move comes after complaints about games like Hooligans: Storms over Europe and Carmaggedon which showed graphic scenes of fighting and dangerous driving, the Observer reports.

Games with no sex or violence will be rated age three plus, and there will be further ratings of seven plus, 12 plus, 16 plus and 18 plus.

All computer games sold in the European Union from April will carry the classifications.

The UK games industry already uses a voluntary age rating system for video games.

Screenshot from Half-Life
The industry is displaying an enhanced sense of social responsibility

Patrice Chazerand
The new code will be overseen by the Interactive Software Federation of Europe.

Secretary-general Patrice Chazerand told the newspaper: "It is only fitting that an industry exerting increasing influence on people displays an enhanced sense of social responsibility."

The violence shown in "shoot-em up" games could be excused in the past because the graphics in them were like cartoons.

Aggression link

But as technology has advanced, the scenes shown have become increasingly life-like.

A feature-length film based on the Final Fantasy series was made two years ago and shown in cinemas alongside regular movies.

The life-like aspect of the action, particularly first-person games where the player pulls the trigger, worries some parents.

The existence of a link between violent games and aggression in children is disputed.

There is conflicting evidence, but research carried out by the Home Office concluded there was no direct link between playing a violent game and aggressive behaviour in children, the newspaper says.

The computer games industry in Europe is expected to generate 6bn next year.


In DepthIN DEPTH
 Video games
Console wars, broadband and interactivity
See also:

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29 Oct 01 | dot life
01 Nov 01 | Science/Nature
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