(dpa) - The European Commission on Tuesday asked European retailers to stop selling violent video games to small children and urged national governments to stick to a common age-rating system.
The European video games sector is booming, with revenues expected to exceed 7 billion euros (11.1 billion dollars) this year. But recent shooting incidents at schools in Germany and Finland involving alleged violent video game fans have since prompted officials to tighten the rules.
Of the European Union's 27 member states, 20 are now applying an age-rating system developed in 2003 by the industry and known as Pan European Games Information (PEGI).
And while 15 EU countries have adopted specific rules on the sale of violent video games to minors, member states Cyprus, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Romania still do not have an age-rating system in place.
In a document published on Tuesday, commission officials called on the industry to make parents more aware about PEGI and invited governments to integrate PEGI into their own classification systems.
They also called for the setting up "within two years" of an EU-wide Code of Conduct on the sale of games to minors.
Viviane Reding, the EU's information, society and media commissioner, noted for instance that under present rules, there is little preventing a 12-year-old from purchasing a game which carries an 18-year-old rating.
"Video games have become a strong pillar of Europe's content industry and are experiencing booming sales across Europe. This is welcome, but implies greater responsibility for the industry to ensure that parents know what kind of games their children can play," Reding said.