Internet computer games like this one – where players take part in a school massacre – have helped prompt the Council of Europe to issue a series of internet guidelines.
“Kindergarten Killer” has been withdrawn from a children’s gaming site in Finland, a week after a young gunman killed 10 people in the country’s worst school shooting.
In drawing up the guidelines, the Council of Europe has worked closely with Internet Service Providers and representatives of the software industry.
Jan Kleijssen, Director of Standard Setting at the CoE said: “In the guidelines, it is recommended that people who market these violent games provide age classification, for instance certain games should not be made available for children, like films, under 18, 16, 14 classification system, and verify themselves whether the content is not so violent as becoming illegal.”
Experts point out that while not everyone who plays violent games will become a killer, some youngsters are susceptible to using violence in later life.
Patrice Chazerand, of the Interactive Software Federation of Europe said:
“This allows the public to distinguish between publishers of serious material for youngsters and those who are less so. It’s the price a responsible publisher has to pay. Games have content, and like all products, you have to know if that content has an impact on minors, or on human-rights… or if it’s just out to sell games.”
It’s not just the depiction of violence which has been targetted by the guidelines, but also racism or content which could incite criminal or dangerous behaviour.
They also encourage integrating more parental controlls into software.