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Age limits urged on video games

VIDEO GAMES should have certificates that restrict the participation of under-age viewers, according to a child psychologist at Newcastle University, writes Martin Wroe.

Dr Neil Niven was speaking after newspaper allegations that Nightrap, the latest computer game from Sega which has pre- release sales of 75,000, involves five semi-naked women being tortured and murdered.

The game, which costs pounds 275, is unusual because it contains life-like graphic images of actresses created from computer- generated film samples. In Nightrap, monsters called Oggers take over a home and the player has to trap them before they attack the family.

Dr Niven said that because players of video games interacted with the game, it was more damaging than television or video violence.

Children might emulate the acts of aggression found in such games, although the chances of this would lessen in older children.

Sega was unrepentant. 'No one gets mutilated,' a spokesman said. 'All the characters, which include men as well as women, are decently dressed. Sega would never have anything to do with pornography.'

The Home Office said the game had not been drawn to its attention but that games were covered in the Obscene Publications Act and 'existing provisions of the law are adequate to catch the most extreme examples of these games'.