Game developers and console makers have to work harder to protect children from violent images.

And they have been given just 2 years to come up with a code of conduct, European authorities have stated.

The European Union's executive body has demanded that the gaming industry takes action.

EU Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding told a news conference yesterday: "Creators have to enjoy freedom of expression but at the same time it's an industry that impacts society".

"When children go out to play today they enter the world of joysticks. We are not quite sure where they go and there is real anxiety from parents", added EU consumer protection commissioner Meglena Kuneva.

Reding continued that EU authorities are acting on concerns that video games can prompt violence in real life; and pointed to both the school shooting that took place in Finland last November, and the subsequent ban of games including the controversial Manhunt 2 in some countries.

While it can legislate, the EU executive has now opted to put pressure on the gaming industry and wants a code of conduct that will have more backers than the one currently in place.

As part of the drive, game developers are being told to make age restrictions on games more visible.

It is not, however, proposing to change the current Pan European Games Information (PEGI)classification system, which is sponsored by more than 200 industry members and used in 20 of the 27 EU states.

The EU does say, though, that the public needs educating as to what the PEGI symbols actually mean.

Kuneva concluded that the measures are "precautionary" and admitted that there is no conclusive link between violence in games and childrens' actions.