In a follow up to yesterday’s news of a brewing Boss battle between Labour MPs Keith Vaz and Tom Watson over Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the BBC has a short video online which captures the exchange between the two in Parliament yesterday.
A GP transcription of the video follows:
Keith Vaz: At midnight tonight, a new and violent videogame called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is to be released. It contains such scenes of brutality that even the manufacturers have put in warnings within the game telling people how they can skip particularly scenes. Given the recommendations of the Byron Review, specifically paragraphs 32 and 33, what steps is the government proposing to take in order to ensure that these violent games do not fall into the hands of children and young people. It’s not about censorship; it’s about protecting our children.
Sion Simon (Minister for Creative Industries): The clearest recommendation of the Byron Review is that content suitable for adults should be labeled as such and sold as such, that it should be an offense to sell such content to children. That’s the case under current law. It will be the case under the law when it changes in the Digital Economy bill. This game the honorable gentleman refers to is a certificate 18 game. It should not be sold to children and the governments job is to make sure that adults clearly labeled can get what adults should be able to and that children are not in danger of being subjected to adult content.
Tom Watson: I’ve seen the content in this video game… it is unpleasant, though no worse than in many films and books. It carries a content warning; it is an 18+ game and carries a BBFC 18+ rating as well. Does the Minister agree that it would be better for members of this house to support the many thousands of games designers and coders and the many millions of games users rather than collaborating with the Daily Mail to create morale panic over the use of videogames.
Sion Simon: I was in Dundee last week visiting the videogames industry. I can certainly agree with him that videogames is an industry… a very large… a very important industry, in which we have a national competitive advantage in this country, which it’s important that all members of this house and he government continue to support.
In response to Vaz’s public comments about the game, Watson set up a Facebook group called Gamer’s Voice, as we noted yesterday. That group has grown from 478 yesterday to almost 9,500 at the time this story was written.
GP: It appears Vaz’s comments about paragraphs 32 and 33 from the Byron Review reference the following two bits from the report’s executive summary:
32: There are some possible negative effects of violent content in games, but these only become ‘harmful’ when children present other risk factors…
33: However, we need to approach unequivocal claims of direct causes with caution – there is a strong body of ethnographic research which argues that context and the characteristics of each child will mediate the effects of playing video games. This means considering the media effects evidence in light of what we know about child development. We can use this to hypothesise about potential risks to children from playing some games….