video games

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One of the video games industry's most respected figures has called for an end to the debate over whether games are harmful to children. Will Wright, the man behind the world's bestselling computer game, The Sims, said he that fears over the negative influence of video games are merely symptoms of a generation gap.

"I think there's been a generational divide between people who play games and people who don't," he told the Guardian. "I think cultural acceptance of games is inevitable just because people are going to have grown up having this technology." Mr , 47, said that the opprobrium heaped on video games today was much like the drastic reactions meted out to and literature in the past.

"It goes in fits and starts over time. If there's a school shooting, it's a case of 'did they play games or not?'. You don't really hear much about what movies they watch what books they read," he said. "But 50 years ago that's exactly what you heard - 'did they read Kill A Mockingbird?' or whatever it was. They would blame social ills on anything that was at hand."

His came as the government this week opened its review into the effects of video games and the Internet on 's children. The investigation, which is being headed by TV psychologist Tanya Byron, called for evidence from parents and children. " really want to encourage children and young people to have their say about the Internet and video games - they love about them, what they think the risks might be and their ideas for the future," said Dr .

Mr Wright - recently described by the New Yorker magazine as "the Zola of the form" - has a history of producing detailed games which simulate the real world and contain important educational aspects. His first hit, Sim , allowed players to build and manage entire towns and cities: a forthcoming version produced in association with BP will models of climate change. His biggest success to date, The Sims, lets players build families and live virtual lives. Sims and its sequels have sold more than 30m copies worldwide since it launched in 2000, making it the popular game in history.

His influence has led to mainstream recognition, and this week Mr Wright became the first of the gaming industry to be honoured with a fellowship of Bafta. His next game, Spore, lets players trace and create lifeforms.

He said the industry should not just churn out games full of graphic violence. "I'm interested how gaming can get people more involved in the real world," he said. "The industry hasn't even begun to its potential - in the meantime we need to be educating the public as to what this can eventually ."