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Germany

Germany Tightens Rules on Violent Computer Games

Two school massacres in Germany have been linked to time spent playing violent computer games, prompting the German Parliment to seek enlarged labelling on DVDs warning parents.

Computer screen with violent video Counter Strike

Enlarged labelling will enable parents to see which computer games are violent

The upper house of the German parliament voted to tighten rules on the sales of violent computer games and films to minors on Friday, June 13, by providing guidelines on stricter labeling.

Labels on DVDs that indicate age-appropriate content need to be large enough so that parents and cashiers at the checkout counters can see at first glance if a game or movie is banned for underage minors and children.

The move has been a response to school rampages in Emsdetten and Erfurt in which the perpetrators of the shooting sprees were apparently influenced by the violent computer game “Counter Strike”.

Link between juvenile crime and school failure

There is a correlation between juvenile crime and failure at school with the amount of time a youth spends playing violent computer games, according to one German study. A school psychologist in Munich, Werner Hopf, surveyed 653 schoolboys over two years, the Hamburg-based magazine Geo Wissen reported.

Playing such computer games, in which boys pretend to kill and maim others, was the best predictor of which boys would get into trouble with police, although other factors included poverty, poor relationships with parents or growing up in a criminal environment.

Boys playing violent games were far more likely to be charged with assault, vandalism, bullying and theft from vending machines and also more likely to perform poorly in school.

The school massacres have prompted an intense public debate about banning "first-person shooter" games, but civil-liberties groups and the game industry advocates have denied any significant links between viewing violent movies and juvenile delinquency.

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