`Kill kids' game on computer in UKoff market

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The Independent Online
Trading-standards officers and film censors are expected to investigate how a computer game depicting the massacre of children in a playground became available on the UK market.

The American game, called Schoolyard Slaughter, has outraged Dunblane anti-handgun campaigners as well as the home secretary, Michael Howard. Its UK distributors, Penguin Public Domain, said yesterday they had withdrawn the game, available in this country for more than a year. Many copies are likely to still be circulating.

Paul Thorn, 24, of Guernsey, discovered the game when he ordered a catalogue from Penguin PD, a small computer library in Reading, Berkshire.

"The description of the game was, `Use the gun to kill the kids as they cross the screen. Only head-shots count'. It's dreadful that people can get away with this," he said.

A Home Office spokesman said that both Mr Howard and the secretary of state for Scotland, Michael Forsyth, were appalled at the game. The spokesman said it was a criminal offence under the 1984 Video Recordings Act to distribute or offer for sale without a British Board of Film Censors certificate a computer game containing scenes of violence to humans or animals.

Jacqueline Walsh, a founder of anti-handgun group Snowdrop said: "Thirteen children a day die from gunshot wounds in the US. We don't want to end up like this in Britain."

A spokesman for Penguin PD, yesterday defended the company's decision to sell the game.

He said: "Dunblane hadn't happened and we weren't to know that it would. Now I think about it more, I do think it's disgusting, but there are games on the personal computer that are worse than that."