'Most violent computer game yet' on sale in UK next week

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An advertising campaign for one of the most violent computer games ever to hit the market will go ahead next week despite calls to ban it.

An advertising campaign for one of the most violent computer games ever to hit the market will go ahead next week despite calls to ban it.

Doom 3 goes on sale in British shops on 13 August, featuring decapitations, exploding heads and stomachs and a range of weapons that includes chainsaws, rocket-launchers and axes. The first game in the series, Doom, was partly blamed for the Columbine High School massacre in the United States, it having been a favourite computer game of the teenage killers Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris.

There is a growing row over the extreme violence displayed in games and the ease with which under-18s can obtain copies.

Dixons last week took a similar game, Manhunt, off its shelves after it was blamed for the murder of Stefan Pakeerah, 14, in Leicestershire. He had been bludgeoned with a hammer and stabbed repeatedly with a knife in an attack his parents said mirrored the computer-generated violence in Manhunt.

But Activision, the distributors of Doom 3, described as an "interactive horror film", said they had no plans to delay next week's launch of the game, and Dixons said they would stock it.

The fact that Doom 3 is to be launched so shortly after the Manhunt incident has been condemned by campaigners. John Bird of Mediawatch, which tries to curb sex and violence in the entertainment industry, said: "Everyone is tired of killing at the moment. I wish people who develop these games would do something more positive. The Manhunt incident proves classification is not working. These games are circulating in school playgrounds."

But a spokesman for Activision said: "We take a responsible approach. This game is 18-rated, as certified by the British Board of Film Classification [BBFC], so it will not be sold to minors. It is the job of the BBFC to censor games, not ours." But a BBFC spokeswoman said: "It's not up to us to enforce the law, it's up to the shopkeepers."

Retailers have been warned by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport that anyone selling an adult game to a minor faces up to six months in prison. Id Software, the developers of Doom 3, describe it as "the most frightening and gripping first-person gaming experience ever created".

In the company's marketing material, Todd Hollenshead, Id Software's chief executive, describes the game as having "a terrifying atmosphere. The whole game screams 'interactive horror film'. Add in the most ferocious line-up of demons hell has ever brought to bear, and you have an experience so intense that you'll need to keep your heart medicine handy." The lucrative Doom franchise is credited with inventing the "first-person shooter" genre of computer games, where the computer screen is designed to replicate a player's field of vision.

In the 10 years since its launch, Doom, has generated $100m (£55m) for Id and become one of the most popular computer games.