Germany seeks common EU rules on violent video games

Call for a clampdown could lead to violent video games being outlawed across the EU

Violent video games could be outlawed across the European Union, following calls for a clampdown among E.U. justice ministers this week.

Germany, which took over the six month rotating presidency of the Union at the beginning of this month, is leading the initiative but the European Commission has also been pushing for more control of video game violence.

“A certain degree of linkage between the growing violence among the younger generation and the growing diffusion of violent games exists,” said Franco Frattini, the European Justice commissioner, at a meeting of the justice ministers in Dresden, Germany, on Tuesday.

The Commission also wants to harmonize national rules in the 27 countries in the Union. “Protection of children cannot have borders,” Frattini said. The Commission wants to see a combination of outright bans on the most violent games, together with minimum age rules on other titles.

The German government said it will conduct a study of all the different national rules concerning video games, with a view to setting Union-wide norms. Its initiative makes the prospect of a ban much more likely.

Video game violence became a hot political issue in Germany at the end of last year when 18-year-old Sebastian Bosse shot up a high school in Emsdetten, Germany, injuring 37 before fatally turning the gun on himself.

Police said Bosse spent most of his waking hours playing "Counter-Strike."

The German government has proposed a national law banning games that depict violence toward human characters.

In addition to banning “Counter Strike,” the German bill under debate could outlaw popular movie franchise titles such as the "Star-Trek" series, "The Lord of the Rings," "The Battle for Middle-earth II" and "Scarface: The World Is Yours."

Although the Interactive Software Federation of Europe has opposed bans of any kind in the past, the group said recently that it supports Frattini’s efforts to protect children, arguing that an age-rating system similar to that used by the movie industry is the best way forward. The trade association wasn’t immediately available to comment.

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