U.K. eyes changing vid game classifications

Reaction to increasing violence in games

LONDON -- The government has launched a consultation on the way video games aimed at children are classified, in a bid to protect youngsters from increasing amounts of harmful or inappropriate material offered by a new generation of video games.

The new system is expected to either update, modify or simply strengthen the current legally binding BBFC system and the non-enforceable pan-European PEGI system, which are not thought to be sufficiently strong in their current forms. Another option could be the introduction of an industry-wide code of practice.

Innovations such as Internet-based gaming, hyper-realistic game formats such as "Grand Theft Auto" and online role-playing games have left the existing system behind, Culture Minister Margaret Hodge said in announcing the consultation Wednesday.

"The current system of classification comes from a time when video games were in their infancy," Hodge said. "The games market has simply outgrown the classification system, so today we are consulting on options that will make games classification useful and relevant again."

The consultation follows a report on the potential harm to children of the new generation of video games carried out earlier this year by child psychologist Dr. Tania Byron.