Premier Brown supports move

Vidgames are set for stricter statutory certification in Blighty as pols move to protect minors from viewing unsuitable material,following an unsuccessful bid to ban the “bleak, callous and sadistic” game “Manhunt 2.”

The recommendation is part of a report by clinical psychologist and TV parenting guru Tanya Byron commissioned by Prime Minister Gordon Brown last fall.

It calls for a clearer classification system for vidgames similar to those already in place for films.

Store owners who sell unsuitable games to children will face hefty fines or jail sentences.

Under current guidelines, which Byron considers confusing and too lenient, only games showing sex or gross violence require a British Board of Film Classification age rating. As a result, fewer than 3% get an 18 certificate, meaning they can be sold only to gamers age 18 and above.

The report also calls for parents, teachers and child care workers to play closer attention to the potential risks children face from games and the Internet.

“You would not send your child to the pool without teaching them to swim, so why would you let them online without teaching them to manage the risks?” Byron said.

She thinks parents should take children’s computers out of bedrooms and put them in communal areas where they can be better supervised.

The study also called for higher security on social networking websites like Bebo and MySpace.

Brown welcomed Byron’s report Thursday.

Byron’s study comes in the wake of concern about the potentially harmful effects of ultraviolent vidgames on young minds.

Last year, the BBFC banned Rockstar Games’ “Manhunt 2,” describing it as “unremittingly bleak, callous and sadistic.” Although the ban was lifted for a toned-down version of the game this month, the high-profile case agitated public concerns.

This week, the Miss Bimbo Internet gaming site came in for heavy criticism from health-care professionals.

Site, targeted at prepubescent girls, lets users spend “bimbo dollars” to give their virtual bimbo characters diet pills, sexy lingerie, facelifts and breast enlargements.

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