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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 March 2008, 08:00 GMT
Review of violent video games
By Jim Reed
Newsbeat technology reporter

Scene from Hour of Victory

Most console and computer games may have to display full, cinema-style age ratings in the future.

The change is part of a series of recommendations in a new report backed by the Government.

The TV psychologist Dr Tanya Byron was asked by the Prime Minister to look into the effects of video games and the internet on young people.

New ratings needed

As things stand only games showing sex or "gross" violence need to apply for a full 18 certificate from the British Board of Film Classification.

Scene from Manhunt 2
A ban on the release of Manhunt 2 in the UK has now been lifted
The 90% of games that do not meet these criteria are rated under a voluntary system administered by a different organisation.

Tanya Byron reckons that many children can get hold of violent games by tricking their parents into believing the rating refers to the skill level, not the graphics on screen.

She wants all games aimed at over 12s to be fully rated in the same way as box office movies.

Any shop owner selling an adult title to a person under 18 could face a heavy fine or five years in prison.

Divided gaming opinions

Newsbeat listener Chris Denham agrees the current rating system is baffling.

He said: "If games had clearer markings, it would be easier to explain to my little boy. I am sure the amount of gun crime today has a lot to do with video games."

But other gamers are not convinced.

17-year-old Sam Boxhall is a Newsbeat listener from Ashford in Kent.

He said: "Playing violent video games has not affected me at all. It helps me wind down at the end of the day. It is being blown way out of proportion."

More parental involvement

The report also recommends that consoles and computers are kept away from children's bedrooms.

Scene from Halo 3
At the moment games get ratings for sex or if there is lots of violence
Instead games should be played in the living room so parents can check the content.

It calls for stricter rules on the way video games are advertised.

Age ratings should be made obvious on billboards and adverts.

Commercials for adult titles should not appear in magazines aimed at the under 18s.

The recommendations are not binding under law yet.

But the Government is thought to fully support the measures.

New laws are likely after a consultation period.

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