Games industry rejects "violence" claims

The European games industry has vehemently denied claims that video games are becoming increasingly violent and are being targeted at kids.

The news follows criticism from two US senators who unveiled a survey by the National Institute on Media and the Family in Washington last week. The US survey found adverts for adult games, including SCI's hit Carmageddon, in US magazine Sports Illustrated for Kids. Senator Joe Lieberman raised concerns about the "torture and maim" aspect of some adult games and criticised the industry for targeting these games at children.

But David Ratcliff, director of development at SCI, denied that the advertising of Carmageddon is aimed at under 18's. "It is designed to be an adult game and the marketing is aimed at this age range," he said. In response to the advert found in the US youngsters magazine, Ratcliffe said that it was up to Interplay, the company that distributes the game, to manage the marketing.

Siding with Carmageddon's developers, the European Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA) insisted that marketing is appropriately placed in mens magazines, gaming magazines and on TV after the 9pm watershed -- a claim not entirely borne out by the US survey. The Association hit back at the survey: "I dispute the survey fundamentally. The people who compile them still assume the average games player is a child," said Steve Cheese who is ELSPA UK operations manager.

Cheese claims the number of games requiring 18-plus certification has stayed the same for the past five years. Less than 10 percent of games are 18 plus, with 60 percent suitable for anyone over three, according to Cheese, with sports simulation games stealing the lion's share of the market. "What people fail to realise is that gaming is not a kids pastime anymore. Playstations and Nintendos are bought by people in their twenties and the PC gamer is even older," Cheese said, adding that children were able to tell the difference between reality and fantasy and were more likely to be affected by images on the news than by computer games.

Darren Newnham, PC games buyer for HMV, believes that games are getting more violent. "The "gore factor" is increasing. In games now, there are limbs flying around and more graphic death scenes," he said. He believes this is what gamers demand, but added that the certification is strictly adhered to by vendors.


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