Britain’s Keith Vaz Calls for Implementation of Byron Report Recommendations

British Labour MP – and serial game critic – Keith Vaz spoke out against violent video game content in Parliament this week:

In a survey published last week, 74 percent of parents said that they were very concerned about the increasing level of violence in video games.  Given the fact that there is increasing availability of these games on the internet exhibiting scenes of graphic and gratuitous violence, when is the government proposing to implement the Byron Report in full? This is not about censorship; it is about protecting our children.

In regards to the Byron Report, Vaz appears to be referring to the suggestion that it be unlawful for retailers to sell any video game to a child younger than the age rating on the box. Currently, only the most violent and sexually explicit games are classified by the BBFC.  The rest are rated by PEGI whose ratings, like America’s ESRB, are recommendations and not backed by force of law.

Labour MP Harriet Harman, who serves as the Leader of the House of Commons, responded to Vaz in what seemed to be a sympathetic fashion:

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his long-standing campaign on the issue. We need to make sure that we have tough classifications that are properly enforced. We need to make sure that parents have the information that they need. We need to make sure that the industry plays its part. The Government will take action on all those fronts.

It is perhaps worth noting that some of the games which Vaz has raised a fuss about in recent times have been non-industry products such as Kaboom: The Suicide Bombing Game or obscure foreign titles like RapeLay.  Neither game is subject to the rating system currently, nor would they be if Dr. Byron’s recommendations are implemented.

Via: Edge Online

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen

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  1. 0
    State says:

    You guys are clearly playing the wrong games, games are more visually violent and gory than what they had been. To make it sound like games have been sanitised by today’s standards is wrong. The original Manhunt, Shadow of Rome, Dead Rising are a few examples to show you that games are gory if not more gorier than games in the past. Games can get away with a lot more nowadays.

  2. 0
    NovaBlack says:

    lol @ rise of the triad and duke 3d.

    Although more primitive, those games were FAR more gory than most games today.

    Hell .. doom had piles of entrails and brains.

    When the big beholders ‘popped’ .. UGH.. stomach churning. Wouldnt get that nowadays.

  3. 0
    GrimCW says:

    i’d still like to see this "increase" in violence in games for myself.

    if anything they’ve become LESS violent with fewer blood splats and giblets flying about than the old days of Duke3D or even Quake 2.

    a FEW gems stick out with nearly as much (such as GoW and Fallout 3) but majority of games these days are limited to a few gorey pre-placed scenes, some blood splatter, and maybe if your lucky a visible point damage system.

    but more violence? even Rainbow Six Rogue Spear had more blood in it than the new R6 games (user created anyways, the new ones have a lot of prop stuff)

    GR had bleeding and point damage, Quake 3 had giblets and splatter galore, but these new games?

    mild to moderate at best. They aren’t more violent at all IMHO, their much less or equal to games past (though i’ve yet to find a new age game that involves the gore sliming down the walls ala Duke 3D and Rise of the Triad :)  ahh the eyes flying through the air… heh )


    as for the report, i thought it was rather fair tbh, and even if they implimented that stuff its as said up there, to little effect of the stuff these nut case old farts are even "concerned" (read – misinformed) about.

  4. 0
    State says:

    The games companies aren’t targeted, the store that sold the item if found guilty faces something like a £1000 – £3000 fine. I’m sure the same happens in the US with guns, that surely the shops get fined instead of the gun companies (but then again isn’t that against "Free Choice"? A moral people seem to hold with such high regard).

    It does seem strange why you would even think about games companies getting in trouble for someone else breaching the law. It’s not as though they breached the law by making a child-unfriendly product.

  5. 0
    Geoff says:

    So what happens in that case?  I’m assuming the store is fined or something in that regard.  I’m also wondering if game companies can be targeted at all.


    Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cook-book! Little Red Cook-book!

  6. 0
    State says:

    The non-governmental organisation BBFC which rates films and some violent games has its ratings enforced by law. Therefore it is illegal to sell a BBFC 18-rated DVD or game to someone underage.

  7. 0
    Zerodash says:

    Isn’t Keith "Butterball" Vaz the same guy who made up his own conclusion for the Byron Report?  Then Tanya Byron herself had to go on the record to state he was incorrect?

  8. 0
    Geoff says:

    I am so sick of this "protect the children" rally cry bullshit.  Over-protected kids turn into neurotic adults unable to deal with the realities of the world.  In the words of my favorite philosopher, "Fuck the children!"


    Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cook-book! Little Red Cook-book!

  9. 0
    Geoff says:

    Not to mention that it would be impossible to enforce such a policy 100% of the time.  Then when it’s reported that little Timmy somehow managed to get his hands on GTA4 they’ll blame the "evil" industry or retailers.  Allowing enforcement of ratings just opens up the industry to more attacks, at least potentially.  Though to be fair I don’t know how UK law would side in this matter.

    As for internet distribution, if Timmy (that little rascal) managed to get his hands on a credit card it shouldn’t be the companies fault.  It’s not their job to make sure the person on the other side is an adult.

    While you don’t see what all the fuss is about with the M rating enforcement, I don’t see what all the fuss is about these children.


    Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cook-book! Little Red Cook-book!

  10. 0
    Michael Chandra says:

    In the USA that would fall under compelled speech. In the UK, I’d guess that either you use a government ratings system, where basically the government would be telling the industry what they’re allowed to do, or you legally enforce a third-party rating system.

    It also goes against this whole idea of free choice, and the question is whether movies in the UK also have all their ratings legally enforced.

  11. 0
    State says:

    His comments are in regard to the accessibility of games over the Internet, which to actually purchase them requires a credit card (only available to those over 18). Although some debit cards are available for a younger age, so when purchasing content over the Internet you have to "agree" that you are over the certificate age. The Daily Mail recently picked up on this fact (although it has been known for many years), that you can "lie" over your age and that the retailers have no legal responsibility. Regardless, the Byron report does not address this issue and so this would not have any affect over Vaz’s campaign.

    But anyway I see no problem with implementing what was recommended in the Bryon report and I see no problem with restricting minors from purchasing certain content (indeed I fail to see what all the fuss is about by making the M-rating legally standing).

  12. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    "In a survey published last week, 74 percent of parents said that they were very concerned about the increasing level of violence in video games."

    Unsurprisingly, the BBFC survey Vaz is referring to did not mention an "increasing level of violence in video games."  What it actually found was that 74% of parents are concerned about the content of some video games.


    Andrew Eisen

  13. 0
    Canary Wundaboy says:

    For once…..there’s no issue in what Vaz is saying. He wants all content ratings to have force of law over here. Realistically, all games with the slightest hint of violence are already rated by the BBFC and therefore ALREADY have the force of law behind them. All he is suggesting is make the games rated PG and below to have the same force. As I stated, this simply isn’t an issue because what kids want to lie about their age to purchase Viva Pinata? Simply doesnt happen. The games he is aiming his tirades at already have legal enforcement.


    Thusly, no issue.


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