Popular computer game World of Warcraft is more addictive than cocaine, experts have warned.
In a report by Sweden's Youth Care Foundation, addiction therapists have described it as 'the most dangerous game on the market', pointing to the case of a 15-year-old boy who collapsed and went into convulsions after playing it solidly for 24 hours.
In a joint statement, Health Secretary Alan Johnson and Business Secretary Lord Vader Mandelson expressed their concern at the report, and announced new legislation to classify World of Warcraft as a Class A drug under the Controlled Substances Act.
Mr Johnson said, "we must ensure that people are protected from the risks of video games, therefore we are instituting our standard narcotics controls on World of Warcraft. We are classifying it as a 'Class A' drug this week, and will then vacillate between Classes A, B and C over the next six months, ensuring that we disregard any scientific advice, before quietly dropping the whole matter".
Campaigner Ms Hilary Dour, of pressure group Action Against Anything At All, welcomed the Government accouncement, saying, "we must take action against not just these terrible, destructive games, but also against the so-called stores which are, we now know, purveyors of horrific addictive substances. Won't somebody please think of the children?".
A seven-day amnesty is to be launched, during which time gamers may deposit their copies of the now-proscribed game in special bins outside police stations and PC World. After this time, anyone caught in possession of an avatar may be liable for up to five years' imprisonment.
In a separate development, the UK offices of Blizzard software - the makers and pushers of WoW - were raided today in a joint operation between Police and Customs officers. Fourteen people were arrested and charged with making and supplying a banned substance, and copies of Warcraft with a street value in excess of £2 million were seized.
Customs officials were unavailable for comment, as they were trying to beat their fastest time on Minesweeper.