One of the world's most famous horror writers has hit out at plans by an American state to censor violent video games.

Stephen King has spoken out in a column he writes for Entertainment Weekly magazine.

King has reacted to a proposed bill in Massachusetts that would see some violent games banned from sale to anyone under the age of 18-years-old.

He stated that the move is indicative of a nanny state and it is the responsibility of parents, not the state, to control what games children play.

"What makes me crazy is when politicians take it upon themselves to play surrogate parents. The results of that are usually disastrous. Not to mention undemocratic", wrote King.

The move by politicians in Massachusetts is part of a worldwide debate on whether violent video games encourage violent acts in everyday life.

Recent research in the UK suggested that playing violent games actually calms gamers, but the jury is still out on this controversial issue.

King added that games only reflect a violence that already exists in the society.

"What really makes me insane is how eager politicians are to use the pop culture as a whipping boy. It's easy for them, even sort of fun, because the pop-cult always hollers nice and loud. Also, it allows legislators to ignore the elephants in the living room", he said.

The author also made the point that there is already a ratings system for video games (the system is the UK is shortly to be rehauled) but that kids will get hold of games if they really want to despite age restrictions.

And King added his belief that increasing social divides in the US and the country's gun laws will always have far more effect on violence than game playing.

He concluded that ultimately it is down to parents to keep an eye on what their children are up to: "Parents need to have the guts to forbid material they find objectionable ... and then explain why it's being forbidden", he said.

"They also need to monitor their children's lives in the pop culture - which means a lot more than seeing what games they're renting down the street."