Video-Game Creators Draft Rating System

UNDER pressure from Congress, the electronic games industry will begin developing a rating system to help parents decide which games are not for children.

The drafting of a rating system will begin this weekend at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and could bring together about 200 industry representatives, according to the Software Publishers Association in Washington.

The move comes after a Senate hearing last month in which lawmakers, led by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (D) of Connecticut and Herb Kohl (D) of Wisconsin, threatened to legislate a rating system if the industry did not voluntarily devise a satisfactory one.

Games such as ``Mortal Kombat'' and ``Night Trap,'' picturing gruesome acts of violence, outraged members of the Senate.

A bill introduced by Senator Lieberman and Senator Kohl would give the industry a year to put together its own system.

The furor over video games is part of a congressional attack on violence in American society, demonstrated by the recent passage of the Brady gun-control bill and nine pending measures that would restrict violent TV programming.

Lieberman said he is targeting video games that ``glorify violence and teach children to enjoy inflicting the most gruesome forms of cruelty imaginable.''

In ``Mortal Kombat,'' martial arts warriors kill each other by either ripping out the heart or head and spinal column of the opponent.

In ``Night Trap,'' women are chased by black-hooded killers who use a drill to drain blood from their necks. The maker of the ``Night Trap'' game, Tom Zito of Digital Pictures Inc., said it actually is a parody of the B-grade, low-budget horror movies of the 1950s, adding that it is meant to be played by people over 17 years of age.

Sega of America, Inc., which distributes the game, supports ratings and has placed them on all new Sega games since last August, a spokesman said.

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