In Parliament, Lively Debate on Video Game Ratings & Green Cross Man

The House of Commons had a lengthy and entertaining debate on video game issues yesterday. Also under discussion was the issue of Internet safety for children. Both topics, of course, were the focus of the well-known Byron Review.

MPs, including Labour Party game critic Keith Vaz argued about game ratings, game violence and whether the government does enough to support the British game biz.

The session had to be gaveled to order at a couple of points and Vaz made reference to a "secret tea" attended by Conservative MP Edward Vaizey and game industry execs. And, as if the ongoing turf war between PEGI and BBFC for U.K. ratings dominance wasn’t complex enough, yesterday’s debate also featured the light-hearted suggestion that British road safety icon the Green Cross Man (left) somehow be tied into the game rating system.

In this report, we’ve omitted the Internet bits to focus on the video game debate. Here’s our abridged transcript:

John Whittingdale (Conservative): …If one looks for empirical, hard, factual evidence that viewing a particular video or playing a video game has led someone to go out and commit a crime such as a rape or an act of violence, there is very little. Our view was therefore… that we should act on the probability of risk. Where there is a probable risk that someone would be influenced by exposure to such material, that is sufficient cause for intervention…

Tanya Byron did a great deal of work on that. Her other conclusion, which was shared strongly by the Committee, was that we cannot completely insulate children from material that might pose a risk. Part of educating children involves teaching them how to deal with risks. If we insulate them to the extent that they never encounter risks, they will not know how to deal with them…

Providers such as Microsoft told us about the parental controls that they have installed into products such as the Xbox… We were impressed by the commitment that almost every major industry body, including internet service providers, social networking sites and hardware manufacturers, has shown regarding the protection of young people, but there is no commonality…

I want to talk about video games in the final part of my remarks. I know that Keith Vaz… has several concerns about this issue, so he has arrived [late] at just the right moment.

Part of the problem with video games… is that there is no hard evidence to prove that playing a game will lead someone to go out and commit a crime or physical attack. Nevertheless, we agree that there is a probability that it could occur, and there is anecdotal evidence to support that view. The Video Recordings Act 1984 provided that games should be classified, that it is necessary to restrict certain games to people over a certain age… and that there would be games that should be banned entirely. That system has been generally successful since then, although there is often controversy about individual games…

Edward Vaizey (Conservative): I invite my hon. Friend, in the tone of his remarks, to make the point that when we talk about harmful video games and films, we are talking about a small minority. Does he agree that it is incumbent on hon. Members to remind the House as often as possible, when they talk about video games, that we have a most successful video games industry in this country, which employs thousands of people?

John Whittingdale (Conservative): My hon. Friend is entirely right. The video games industry is increasingly important and generates more money than the film industry. It is something that we are very good at. We are a creative nation, and many of the most successful games were developed here. We strongly support the games industry’s efforts to ensure that it remains strong in this country and is not poached by other countries such as Canada, which is attempting to attract it there.

Keith Vaz (Labour): …The fact remains that some of those games, even though they are a minority, are very violent. The hon. Gentleman and I have both commented on the video internet game "Kaboom" in which people replicate the activities of a suicide bomber. It cannot be right that the makers of those games should choose such storylines to provide entertainment, especially on the internet, where our children and under-18s can access them more easily than if they were going into a shop to buy them, as with non-internet games?

John Whittingdale (Conservative): This is a very difficult area and "Kaboom", which has been around for a little while, is an interesting example. It is a remarkably crude, cartoon-type game and is not in the least realistic, as many games now are. It is undoubtedly tasteless and might be offensive to a large number of people. I suspect that it is probably distressing to anyone who has suffered a bereavement as the result of a suicide bombing. Does that mean that it should be banned? I am not convinced that it should, because it is so crude, and other games pose greater concerns.

Edward Vaizey (Conservative): May I make a point to my hon. Friend? In his response to Keith Vaz, he has implied that "Kaboom" is somehow a legitimate video game that breaches the boundaries of taste, but it is not. It was created by an individual in his bedroom. To say that we should ban "Kaboom" is, with the greatest respect to my hon. Friend, slightly missing the point."Kaboom" is not subject to any legal constraints. It cannot be submitted to a regulator to be classified, because it is made by an individual, effectively illegally, outside the mainstream… It is not at all part of the mainstream video games industry. (more after the jump)

John Whittingdale (Conservative): I agree with my hon. Friend… The games that clearly can be classified are those that are produced as a result of the efforts of thousands of people, with a huge level of investment. It is interesting that the most successful game in recent times, which caused queues around the blocks and had a massive launch around the world, was "Grand Theft Auto IV". That game is rightly classified 18. It has content that is not appropriate for children—indeed, the level of violence, the abuse of women and many other aspects of it make it an adult game. It is quite realistic: computer graphics can now look much more like real action, and games look much more realistic than those that we grew up with, such as the original "Space Invaders", which was primitive compared with what is now possible.

There is general agreement that it is desirable to have a classification system for games to identify those with adult content, and in one or two cases to ban them if they are too extreme—"Manhunt 2" is a classic example of that. One then reaches the argument, which was one of the most difficult that the Committee had to deal with, between the [BBFC], which currently has responsibility for classifying games, and the industry-led system, PEGI… which is used across Europe and is a self-imposed regulatory system. PEGI offers more information, using little graphic symbols that tell consumers about the content…

The BBFC has long experience in the area… That phrase, "not allowed to buy it", brings me to the second strength of the existing system, because of course the BBFC symbols are enforceable in law. We have been told that retailers will abide by the PEGI system where that is used, but in this country it is illegal for a trader to sell a game rated 18 to someone who is clearly under 18, which does happen.

Nick Palmer (Labour): …I play video games—I declare an interest—and am just as likely to buy or download them from abroad as from Britain. I suspect that in a few years it will be quite difficult for even the purchaser to know whether he is buying from Britain; he will just go to a website and place an order. A British-only system is surely a little archaic in that respect.

John Whittingdale (Conservative): That is the alternative argument. It is true that more and more games are likely to be made available online, but that is not to say that the BBFC system cannot be applied to them… The other strong argument is that the law is necessary. In my county, trading standards officers recently went out to make test purchases of 18-rated games using a 14-year-old. I am afraid a large number of stores failed the test and were told that they would be prosecuted if the failure were to recur. Not everyone will comply with a voluntary system…

Nick Palmer (Labour): …The main trouble with PEGI, it seems to me, is that it is only European.

John Bercow (Conservative): Order. May I make the point that interventions, although they have without exception been of impeccable quality, are becoming increasingly lengthy?

John Whittingdale (Conservative): I am aware that I have perhaps occupied the Committee’s time to the point of pushing my luck, so I shall draw my remarks to a conclusion… the BBFC argued strongly to the Committee that it was better equipped to deal with the matter because it had the experience, expertise and resources needed. It was confident that it could take on the online challenge.

The Committee felt that the system that has been in place, administered by the BBFC, has been proved to work, and that that system, which commands the confidence of consumers, should be the one to remain. However, the argument is continuing…

Paul Farrelly (Labour): …With respect to video games, which are banned in my household, except when they are streamed over the internet in the hour that my children are allowed, I would like the Government and the council to resolve the issue of dual classification, as it is confusing. We went for classification by the [BBFC] because we felt it was more familiar, although that is perhaps a reflection of our age and of having gone to the Wrexham Rio when we were growing up…

Don Foster (Liberal Democrat): I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his honesty in saying that the reason for choosing the BBFC was familiarity, but will he acknowledge that, for example, the campaign to make people familiar with guideline daily amounts on food labelling took two years to get the message widely accepted by the public? Were there to be a campaign in respect of the PEGI classification system, within a short space of time that would be equally familiar.

Paul Farrelly (Labour): I take that point and the points made by my hon. Friend Dr. Palmer about the prevalence of downloading games from the internet and not buying them in hard copy, which may move us more towards a PEGI system… The point is that we need to have the matter clarified, so that the single classification can be taken up and become more familiar, and so that parents can be more confident in how it works…

Keith VAz (Labour):
…I am not sure whether Mr. Vaizey is a prince among shadow Ministers, as the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings said. I will be interested to hear what he has to say, because I spotted him in Portcullis House having a cup of coffee with representatives of [game publishers lobby ELSPA] Let us hear what he has to say when he responds to the debate.

I first became involved in this issue when the son of one of my constituents, Stefan Pakeerah, was murdered in Leicester. The murder mirrored scenes in a video game called "Manhunt". Warren LeBlanc was sent to prison, and Stefan Pakeerah is dead. Stefan’s mother started a campaign about the harmful effects of video games and got me involved in it…

As soon as I took up the issue, I became the subject of much internet abuse from those who felt that there should be absolute freedom in dealing with video games… I was once voted the third most unpopular person in the world, after Hillary Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, by the readers of one of the video game magazines. I suppose that I should take that as a compliment, but it points to the almost hysterical approach that the video games industry and the newspapers that support it sometimes take to anyone who manages to raise such matters in the House.

What we need first of all from the industry is responsibility and partnership. We are all on the same side. We are saying clearly that for someone who is over 18, there should be no censorship or attempt to stop them seeing or doing whatever they want as far as video games are concerned. My interest has always been to protect those who are under 18… That is my only concern—not to stop adults buying games but to ensure that harmful games do not fall into the hands of young people and children.

There are three ways in which that could be done. The first is to ensure that there is a clear statement of the age limit on the video game itself. Unfortunately, it is still far too small. When we first started this campaign some years ago, it was the size of a 1p piece, and now it is the size of a 50p piece; but I saw and still see no reason why an indication that something has an 18 certificate and is unsuitable for children and young people under 18 should not be splashed across an 18-plus video game, as it is on other material with adult content…

I say to the Minister… let us ensure that retailers that sell these games to under-18s are prosecuted. I would be interested to know from the Minister how many prosecutions there have been of retailers who have sold—[Interruption.] She is looking around, but I do not think the answer will come…

[Mr. Vaizey] said that he did not think that there was sufficient evidence to show a link between the content of video games and subsequent actions by people as a result of watching them. We now have research on that from the University of Iowa [Dr. Craig Anderson], and previously there was research from the University of Missouri. One thing that the Minister can do is ensure that she commissions more research, although not necessarily from those who have a view one way or the other—it should be independent research…

I remind hon. Members that, when I mentioned the Pakeerah case, the industry representatives said to me that the judge and the police made it clear that they did not think that "Manhunt" and the actions in that game had an impact on Warren Leblanc. They said that, yes, the video was in his house, but they did not think it had any effect. However, just last week, on 7 November, to quote The Sun,

"A teenage sex beast [Ryan Chinnery] who attacked women in an imitation of Grand Theft Auto was locked up yesterday…."

In "Grand Theft Auto IV", the player assumes the identity of a criminal… To move up the food chain, characters drive around carrying out increasingly brutal missions… Violence is central to all the tasks and, when not busy on a mission, players are free to roam the streets to strike at people in a sadistic way. That is fine if players are over 18—well, it is not fine, but I can understand why those over 18 may want to buy and play such a game—but I am concerned about the effect of such games on young people if they fall into their hands…

Don Foster (Liberal Democrat): … 26 million people in this country play video games. About half of them are female. A large number of them, far more than was expected, are older people. There are many benefits to playing video games… The video games industry is a crucial part of the UK economy. It contributes some £1 billion a year… The industry employs 28,000 people, and we should be proud of what they have been achieving, but it does face significant challenges. Other countries—Canada, Singapore, Korea and France—offer financial help to their games industries with salary subsidies or tax credits. As a result, the UK has lost to Canada its position as the third largest producer of video games…

PEGI is self-regulatory… It is also a tougher regulator than the BBFC. The BBFC has repeatedly downgraded games that PEGI deemed to be appropriate only for adult players.

John Whittingdale (Conservative): That is a matter of dispute. There are examples on each side, but I direct the hon. Gentleman to "Singles: Flirt Up Your Life", which PEGI rated at 15-plus but the BBFC rated at 18-plus, because of its content.

Don Foster (Liberal Democrat):
We can debate statistics, but for the record the latest figures that I have show that of the 50 games that PEGI rated at 18-plus over the past 12 months, the film rating board downgraded 22—almost half. Twenty were rated at 15, and two were given a 12 rating—including "Mass Effect", the game that boasts impalement and burning bodies among other things. I genuinely believe that PEGI ratings are more informative, as they rate games by age and by content…

Edward Vaizey (Conservative):

I want to turn briefly to video game classification… As has been pointed out by the Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, Keith Vaz, I am a strong supporter of the UK video games industry… Most video games are not harmful; nor do they contain inappropriate content. Most kids play football video games…


I suggest that there should have been a separate report, pointing out what a pea soup the current system for classifying video games is… The Government continue to sit completely on their hands, as Canada mounts an extremely aggressive campaign to attract video games companies… The Government’s excuse for inaction is that they are taking up the matter with the World Trade Organisation. However, by the time it gets a hearing there, our video games industry could well be on the floor.

There are some strong merits to the argument that the [BBFC] should take over the classification of video games. It already classifies 18-plus films. The BBFC says that, if the role were extended to 12 and over, as it wants, it would have to deal with 300 to 500 extra games over and above the 270 that it already monitors. Similarly, PEGI has some strong advantages. By its very nature, it is a pan-European system. One of the advantages of playing legitimate online video games—I do not include "Kaboom" in that group, as I said earlier—is that one can play with people from across Europe.

Keith Vaz (Labour): There is nothing wrong in principle with increasing the size of the 18-plus warning label on the front of a video game to make it clear that it is for adult consumption only. The hon. Gentleman has no objection to that, has he?

Edward Vaizey (Conservative): None whatever. I have no objection to the right hon. Gentleman criticising "Grand Theft Auto", either. I have never played "Grand Theft Auto", and from the way that he described it, it does not sound like a particularly edifying game. The only point that I wish to make is that I feel that the whole video games industry has been unfairly tarred with the same brush on the back of one or two inappropriate video games… Members should remember how important, successful and legitimate the vast majority of the industry is.

PEGI has the advantage of being a pan-European system. It also enables people to play online together. The point that PEGI made to me at the secret tea exposed by [Vaz] was that, if Europe had split rating systems, an 18-year-old who went online to play a game rated 18 by PEGI but classified differently by the BBFC might find themselves playing what they regarded as an 18 game not with adults, as they expected, but with a 15-year-old in the UK or another jurisdiction.

Keith Vaz (Labour): To be clear about this, I did not expose the hon. Gentleman at the secret tea; he came up to me and told me that he was having tea with some of my best friends.

Edward Vaizey (Conservative): That is absolutely right. There are advantages in both [rating] systems. The consultation closes on 20 November, and we look forward to a swift decision from the Government about how things will proceed. From our point of view, we want one rating system, with ratings as prominent as [Vaz] wishes.

Don Foster (Liberal Democrat): I am grateful to [Vaizey] for giving way. As his mentor, I advise him that, in his position as the lead spokesman on the issue for a major political party of this country, he might have been expected to come down on one side of the fence or the other, rather than saying that he is looking forward to the outcome of the review. Can he tell us what the Conservative party’s thinking is?

John Bercow (Conservative):  Order. Before [Vaizey] does so, and although I am conscious that his speech is both stimulating and informative, he is about to take longer than will be left for the Minister.

Edward Vaizey (Conservative): It is a humiliating position not only to be admonished by the Chair but to be accused by a Liberal Democrat of sitting on the fence, but I would say to my mentor that, sometimes, one should pause and hear all the evidence…

Barbara Follett (Labour): …The issue is one of great concern to many: especially, as we have found out today, to parents… I spent quite a bit of time last weekend trying to extract my 10-year-old granddaughter from a rather noxious video game that she had found on the internet.

It was not that long ago that we all started playing the first tennis games in the mid-80s… They were terribly innocuous. If such changes have happened in 30 years, just imagine what will happen in the next decade.

It is precisely the fast-moving nature of the issue that makes it so difficult. It is new; for some of us, like me, it is difficult to understand and access; but as many Members have stressed today, it can bring huge benefits as well as causing huge problems…

John Hayes (Conservative): I can tell that the Minister is about to avail the Committee with an extensive list of the proposals that the Government have formulated in response to the Select Committee report… Will she consider adding to her list the imaginative suggestion of my hon. Friend Mr. Vaizey that we should have some figure—some national treasure like the green cross code man—to send a persuasive and attractive message to children? Given that Her Majesty the Queen—our principal national treasure—is not available, perhaps Bruce Forsyth might fit that role, as our own generation’s green cross man.

Barbara Follett (Labour): I am sure that the council will consider that. We must get the message across, and it is through such figures that children understand exactly what we are talking about. The green cross code man certainly played a big part in my children’s life.

The key to the problems… is responsibility. Mr. Hayes alluded to that kind of responsibility. It is responsibility on the part of providers, users and manufacturers, and it must cut right across. Without that responsibility, we can have no trust… Like my right hon. Friend Keith Vaz, we also want prominently displayed safety information on video games…
The issue of video games classification is more difficult. I say that as the mother of two boys who consume such games and play each other online. They are not boys, in fact, but are in their late 30s and early 40s, but they still play. Some of the things that they play make my hair stand on end.

Dr. Byron looked into this issue and, like us, was very concerned about it. The Government have looked at the research on the harmfulness of video games. As today’s debate has shown, there is no single view on that. At the moment, there is no compellingly persuasive evidence to suggest that violent games lead to violent behaviour. I say that as someone who is personally somewhat doubtful about how good or bad they are. The [Dr. Craig Anderson] research from Iowa that [Vaz] has mentioned purports to have found a link, but that is a long way from scientific proof of a cause. We need to see the sort of scientific proof that eventually came out about the effects of nicotine consumption before we can act.

John Hayes (Conservative):  The difficulty is not with the scientific method. It is hard to glean empirical results in this area, because the effect is diffuse, subtle and, to use a word I used earlier, implicit. It is intrinsic and subliminal, and those things are hard to prove. That does not mean that the research is not valid, but it certainly means that it has to be ongoing and thorough. When I spoke— inadequately—earlier, I made the point that there is a dynamism about this subject that requires constant vigilance. People want a crackdown on the worst. I am sorry to be so blunt, but the public expect nothing less than that sort of crackdown.

Barbara Follett (Labour): I agree. The hon. Gentleman is right to say that this subject must be kept under constant review. I also agree with Dr. Byron that action is needed now… Let us focus on what we can agree on and what we can do. Violent material is simply inappropriate for children, as is some other material. We do not need proof of that, because we know it to be the case. The best thing to do is to ensure that we have the best possible system in place to ensure that games that feature violence or other unsuitable content are not sold to children.

Dr. Byron found many positive aspects of the systems already in place, but she also identified weaknesses. In the end, she outlined the attributes that a classification scheme for games should have. She set out a potential solution, and recommended that we carry out a consultation. That consultation closes on 20 November, and I, like Mr. Foster, am looking forward to seeing the results.

We are looking for a trustworthy system with a uniform and clear set of symbols, which is absolutely clear to people. There must be a statutory basis to the video games classification system from age 12 onwards, and a non-statutory system up to age 12. The system has to be flexible and future-proof, it must work for the games industry and it must support retailers. It must also reflect the evidence on potential harm, as has been said. We are not looking to ban games.

Don Foster (Liberal Democrat): What Minister just listed is identical to what Dr. Tanya Byron recommended, and would obviously lead to the BBFC system being used because, as the Chairman of the Select Committee has rightly said, the BBFC system is statutory and PEGI is not. Is the Minister saying that the Government are not open to having a non-statutory code and they have already decided on BBFC?…

Barbara Follett (Labour): No; I assure the hon. Gentleman that that is not what I meant. At the moment, the BBFC system is statutory and PEGI is not, but if we went for PEGI, we would make it statutory… there has been no pre-choice.

I am very much in favour of video games. Any hon. Members who have played the new brain-training games will know that they are extremely helpful to a woman who is well past middle life. My grandchildren are very glad that I have improved my brain level.

Edward Vaizey (Conservative): If only other Ministers—

John Bercow (Conservative): Order.

Barbara Follett (Labour): The message from internet service providers, video games makers and the people who consume them is that they do not want to lose freedoms. They do not want heavy-handed regulation, but we have to bring some order to the growing chaos out there. We must have a system that we can trust to act responsibly.

In conclusion, dealing with this issue is crucial for the present and the future, because it will affect how our children grow and the values they hold…

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  1. Untouchable says:

    You gotta love the fact that often they’ll just get into mud-slinging fights and totally forget about the issue at hand.



  2. State says:

    Whilst he mentioned it as an example of a game that received a lower rating from the BBFC, by discussing the game’s content (which makes it seem much worse than what it actually is) he appears to be sensationalising the content. The ERSB rated the game M because it contained a very mild sex scene. The content of the game is not out of place with that of a 12-rated film. It is hardly an adult-only game and putting it in the same classification category with GTAIV would show poor judgement. Games with sexual themes tend to receive quite tough ratings from both PEGI and the ERSB.

    The Lib Dems appear to be calling for the support of PEGI because it rates games much higher than that of the BBFC. One Tory MP seemed to believe that the BBFC was better simply because it had given a higher rating to a game than what PEGI had. Perhaps we should have an organisation that rates all games 18?

  3. Phox says:

    I disagree that Don Foster’s comments can be classed as sensationalist just because he mentioned Mass Effect. He did not make the false claims about the sexual content that had been made by others in the past. He was mentioning it merely as an example of a game that BBFC had rated lower than PEGI. Note that Mass Effect is a game that ESRB rated M, and it does contain violence and sexual themes; the misinformation that was famously wheeled out by Fox News was that Mass Effect is pornographic, something that Don Foster did not claim.

    Furthermore, the Liberal Democrats in the debate seemed to be arguing for a parental education rather than legislative approach. How exactly you can call this sensationalist escapes my understanding.

  4. State says:

    How ironic that the Conservatives are the most liberal on the issue and actually raise sensible points and thankfully debunk this Kaboom business. Labour and the Lib Dems have been using the typical sensationalist comments (especially those regarding Mass Effect’s content). Whilst Keith Vaz has become unpopular on this website due to his uninformed anti-gaming comments, his credibility is somewhat tarnished due to the strong whiff of corruption that surrounds him regarding a number of matters. The fact that he is constantly using the most sensationalist accusations is not helpful, but his credibility was lost a long time ago and I believe most MPs already know that and don’t take his comments that seriously.

  5. Bennett Beeny says:

    At least in Britain they actually have substantive debates over such issues.  You never see that sort of back and forth argument here in the US, and you never see the President called upon to answer questions from senators or congressmen.

    Plus, in Britain they can vote the government out of office anytime, not just once every four years.  Britain is far more democratic than the US, but I’d prefer a truly democratic system (with proportional representation) over either the US or the British system.

  6. NovaBlack says:

    little known but interest fact here…


    The guy who played ‘green cross guy’ is the same actor who was under the darth vader suit in the original star wars trilogy!



  7. BlackIce says:

    Hang on a minute, the Tories are actually making sense to me at the start of the script. What the fuck is going on?

    ~You Could Be Mine, But You’re Way Out Of Line..~

  8. Andrew Eisen says:

    Two things regarding Vaz’s comments:

    -The victim was the one who owned the copy of Manhunt, not the murderer.

    -Ryan Chinnery could not have been imitating GTA because GTA does not feature sexual assault.


    Andrew Eisen

  9. beemoh says:

    >We are saying clearly that for someone who is over 18, there should be no censorship or attempt to stop them seeing or doing whatever they want as far as video games are concerned. My interest has always been to protect those who are under 18… That is my only concern—not to stop adults buying games but to ensure that harmful games do not fall into the hands of young people and children.

    Lies. Vaz was the first person to call for retail to stop selling the first Manhunt, and also quick on the scene to commend the BBFC for banning the second. His only concern if getting his name in the newspapers.


  10. Canary Wundaboy says:

     Vaizey has been on gamepolitics before when a similar story on Vaz and his lies was posted here.

    I see that once again he has defended our corner from unfair criticism and censorship. What a guy.

  11. Charax says:

    I’ve been thinking about this for a few minutes and I think that any UK GP readers who feel sufficiently motivated should pick one of the MPs involved whos views we agree with and politely email them to show our support (and perhaps – if it can be done without appearing arrogant or condescending – offer some pertinent information or relevant sources) . This is, after all, supposed to be a democracy and it only really works if we get involved.

    Besides, emailing your support to an MP you agree with is far more likely to get results than spamming the hell out of one you disagree with.

    You can email them from their personal sites, Parliament’s website or grab their email addresses from here.

  12. Nocturne says:

    I was afraid that everyone would just listen to Vaz like the Lied Piper.

    First rules of British politics, if the opposition said it, it must be wrong so you should jeer childishly until the Speaker asks for silence. Like someone mentioned above, people only watch it for the fights.

  13. mr_mlk says:

    I only watch BBC Parliament for the fights. 

  14. Silphion says:

    Phew!  Long reading!  But well worth it to do so!

    Funny how the U.K. never considers itself in competition with–not the U.S.–but Canada!  And here I thought Canada was pumping out more games to the English-speaking markets than the U.S.


  15. TBoneTony says:

    It is a shame that the politicians still think that Tanya Byron said that there should be just one ratings system.

    It was not her that said that, it was the politicians…

    and the real chaos out there at the moment is not the Videogames, but it is the mainstreem news media and the Political scum like Keith Vas who manipulate the truth about Manhunt and the murder into their own political aims.

    While I do think that the 18 rating can be made bigger, but you have no choice but to accept that parents are going to raise their kids the way THEY want to.

    For parents that need help in getting to know the Videogame ratings, they need real and truthful information about Videogames and their ratings, NOT political scare campaings.

    Ohhh… times like these I wish I could be a politician and explain how stupid some of them are, but I guess a few who do know more about videogames, like the individual who plays Brain Tralining, is a hopefull sign.

  16. TBoneTony says:

    Some politicians know a thing or to about videogames…

    Sadly there are still many who know stuff all about Videogames and only go for political point scoring to save themselves.

  17. mogbert says:

    What I’m surprised is that I’m agreeing with the conservative guys, especially the one that pointed out how Kaz was trying to spin an amature flash game as a professional retail game. Even the part about it being made in a  "bedroom". He can really spin the imagry there.

    I just had a Canadian crash course on their political system, but it seems British legal is a lot more confusing. I was afraid that everyone would just listen to Vaz like the Lied Piper. It’s good to see some adults are still using their heads.

  18. JustChris says:

    If Keith was as critical with movies as with games, he’d use the snuff film industry as a point to attack the whole industry that makes movies for general audiences. And he doesn’t seem like the "roll with the punches" type. He’s obviously not getting the criticism towards him.

  19. Charax says:

    Well, apart from when Vaizey said "it is made by an individual, effectively illegally, outside the mainstream.."

    So making flash games is effectively illegal because they’re not subject to a classification system in *one* of the countries they’re accessible from?


    Still, the debate has given me hope that there are at least some MPs out there who aren’t, you know, completely out of touch and insane. I also like how even Vaz says he doesn’t want to restrict the sale of goods to over-18s (although if that’s the case, why is the BBFC allowed to deny classification to titles like Manhunt 2?)

  20. Soldat_Louis says:

    Kudos to John Whittingdale and Edward Vaizey for replacing Kaboom into its context as a crude amateurish game that has nothing to do with the industry.

    Finally, there are still politicians who know what they’re talking about !

  21. squigs says:

    Wow!  Some informed debate there.  I’m really quite surprised. 

    Glad that Vaz has been put in his place about Kaboom.  It’s a shame nobody called him on the damn Manhunt thing (i.e. the victim had a copy and the crime had nothing to do with it). 

    Most importantly they were focussing on what’s actually important.  The effectiveness of the ratings system and what can be done to improve it. 

    There seems to be a general consensus that the ratings sytem should be backed by law which some people here disagree with but it is the view of the British majority so I’ll forgive them on that one.

  22. paketep says:

    My god, after all this time and that bastard Vaz still gets away with the Manhunt reference without any of those MPs telling him that he is lying to their faces?.

  23. Nocturne says:

    He’s not saying that there’s a risk so people shouldn’t be allowed to play games though, he said the regulations that are already in place are needed, I don’t think it’s intended to go as far as safety belts and a valid licence for games though (except maybe Gran Touriso 6). I don’t agree that games should be banned but his and the other Conservative MPs arguments are a hell of a lot better researched and stated than Labours.

  24. Nocturne says:

    yesterday’s debate also featured the light-hearted suggestion that British road safety icon the Green Cross Man (left) somehow be tied into the game rating system.

    I think that’s a terrible idea, he’d be conning us into buying more Star Wars games so he can get the royalties.


    Wait a minute… could it be time for the return of..


    KIDS!! LISTEN!! Don’t let them mislead you, that games too intense for you.

  25. Flamespeak says:

    Seems like most of them want games to continue to grow in popularity as it is a good way to boost the economy, however, they just want a common ground to be found on a good rating system.

  26. Nocturne says:

    It irritates me as people like Vaz spout is as irrefutable proof of the risks of games but it completley ignores any facts or logic. It’s like campaigning to ban guns because a gun owner was stabbed to death.

  27. aniki21 says:

    I can’t wait for the day that someone calls out Vaz for his manipulation of the Stefan Pakeerah murder. It was Pakeerah who owned Manhunt, not his killer, and Vaz is taking advantage of the family’s loss to misrepresent the dangers of videogames – which everyone agrees shouldn’t have been in the hands of either child anyway.

  28. Nocturne says:

    No the Suicide bomber game, which is an entirely different kettle of fish.

    I can’t help but find it ironic that Labour are the ones trying to be conservative over game content and Conservative are being more liberal.

  29. Doomsong says:

    So if they end up crossing these ideas… does that mean the US will follow suit and start putting Mr. Yuck on M rated titles?

    "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" – Benjamin Franklin

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