Labour MP Vaz: Games Should Have Health Warnings

In a recent radio interview, Labour MP Keith Vaz again took videogames to task.

Vaz thinks that rating information on the front of games should be larger, reports, and also adopt health warnings currently found on packs of smokes:

If you look to the packaging of an 18-rated videogame, it’s [the size of] a tiny 10p coin. What it should be is the same as cigarettes – it should be splashed across the front: ‘This has the potential to damage your health’ – and that is not happening.

Vaz indicated that he would like to see 18+ rated games sectioned off at retail and put in their own section. Parents who buy games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare for their kids who are under the age of 18 are “psychologically damaging” their children added Vaz.

When it comes to keeping violent games out of the hands of children, Vaz put the onus on parents, before noting that he didn’t really know what games his own 14-year old son was playing, “I have a son who is 14 years of age – I don’t know what games he looks at, but I shall ensure that in future I will look at the covers, to make sure that these games are not over the age of 18.”

The full interview is available on SubCity’s website.

At least as a partial response to Vaz’s continued anti-game rhetoric, fellow Labour MP Tom Watson recently set up the Facebook group Gamer’s Voice, an advocacy assemblage designed to promote the rights of UK gamers.

Watson recently penned a column for The Guardian, inviting other MPs to play a game with him.  From Watson’s article:

British politicians should stop whingeing and learn to love video games. Whether the political classes like it or not, video games have changed the cultural landscape of the nation.

Thanks Andrew

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  1. Afirejar says:

    Pictures aren’t a problem, Amazon and other online retailers have lots of cover art. I chose Modern Warfare 2 for the XBox for the sake of comparison, because it’s readily available and the boxes are the same size everywhere. The UK ratings label is about the same size as other sensible ratings labels, i.e. about the same size as the current US labels and the old German labels years ago, before they made them ridiculously oversized.

    US ESRB rated:

    UK BBFC rated:

    European PEGI rated:

    Germany USK rated:

    Australia OFLC rated:

  2. MasterAssassin says:

    Hey Vaz I have a suggestion, how about you watch what your own kid plays before you spout off your ignorant bile about how games can damage kid’s health. According to your assinine logic your a darrelect parent, so before you tell everyone else how to raise thier kids, practice what you preach. I’ll be you his kid probably got MW2 on the release date and probably has his own copy of GTAIV too.

  3. Arell says:

    It’d be interesting, though.  When an industry applies a health warning to a product, it must be based on scientific facts.  So why Vaz might bluster about "psychological damage" from video games, the research isn’t there to back it up.  I don’t know how the UK system works, but I would think that an industry could sue the government for forcing untrue and politically movitated labels on their products.

  4. Shoehorn Oplenty says:

    "it should be splashed across the front: ‘This has the potential to damage your health’"

    Headline: Labour MP calls for lies to be printed on video game covers. Unless he means by throwing the cd case at someone, but if that was his intent you would need to put labels on…well everything.

  5. State says:

    I doubt that they’d ever complain over the depictions and interactive nature of terrorism within games!

    The IRA another terrorist group supported and funded by America, including the Kennedy family.

  6. BearDogg-X says:

    Health warnings? Didn’t some brain-dead idiot named Baca already beat him to that trainwreck?

    Vaz should get his head out of his ass.

    Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Hornets, Jack Thompson can geaux chase a chupacabra.

    Proud supporter of the New Orleans Saints, LSU, 1st Amendment; Real American; Hound of Justice; Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always

    Saints(3-4), LSU(7-0)

  7. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Meh people need intelgent tests so the stupid ones can be labled and made infertile… so then soscity can protect them and treat them like kids untill they die…

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!!

  8. Murdats says:

    because G4C is running for a particular seat in the state elections of an australian state

    Vaz is apparently not australian nor of that seat

  9. beemoh says:

    I like how Vaz will go miles out of his constituency to talk to some random student radio station, but won’t give the games media- read by the people who might be, oh, I don’t know, actually affected by what Vaz is trying to do- the time of day



  10. Uncharted NES says:

    So Atkinson flipflops on the issue again (yesterday) and ignores common sense and Vaz today insists on something that failed before and IGNORES common sense. Hey Vaz and Atkinson, see this? It’s the world’s even smaller violin and we are playing it just for you. EDIT: If G4C is trying to run against Atkinson, why not do the same to Vaz? —- Veni, vidi, vici, I came, I saw, I conquered.

  11. sharpshooterbabe says:

    How is this a health warning when the games only let me take out my frustrations & stress on the game!?!?!?!? What an idiot! Watson is right! Games have changed the nation & possibly all over the world! Go Watson!



    "It’s better to be hated for who you are, then be loved for who you are not." – Montgomery Gentry

  12. Beacon80 says:

    The only thing I’ll agree with him on, is that it sounds like the ratings should be bigger (I don’t suppose anyone could provide us Yanks with a picture, so we can see for ourselves).  Not slapped across the front, like he suggests, but a decent square in the corner, like the ESRB does.

    Still sounds better than the ratings on our movies.  Tiny text found on the back, lost in the middle of a bunch of other information.

    On the other hand, there’s a big "practice what you preach" I’d like to say to him.  If he’s so convinced games are damaging (yet to see anything that really backs that up) then he shouldn’t be so ignorant about what his own son is playing.

  13. johnmarkley says:

    I suppose I should give him credit for being honest enough to stand up and say, "Yes, I want the government to do my job as a parent because I don’t feel like doing it myself."

    Check out my video game humor and commentary blog, Pointless Side Quest!

  14. Zero Beat says:

    The politician who tries to parent all children does not parent his own.  And that’s my zen moment for the month.


    "That’s not ironic. That’s justice."

  15. SticKboy says:

    "Labour MP Keith Vaz has declared in a radio interview that when it comes to ensuring children can’t gain access to adult-rated videogames, there is a huge responsibility on the part of parents – and he then went on to admit that he doesn’t actually know which games his own 14 year old son plays at home."

    Says it all, really.

  16. Father Time says:

    If anything I’d say the movie would be worse than the game

    What would be more disturbing, violence that is obviously computer generated, or movies that feature live action people (or at least CGI that looks a hell of a lot more lifelike)?


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  17. Erik says:

    And are these games somehow more psychologically damaging than movies or books which show the same exact content?  A person underage can walk into a bookstore and buy a book of patricide and incest, that is if they go into the mythology section and read up on Oedipus.

    -Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person’s fear of their own freedom-

  18. Father Time says:

    Let us all take a moment of silence to reflect on this, and then another moment for a massive simultaneous facepalm.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  19. Father Time says:

    By music do you mean playing an instrument or listening to music made by others? I doubt the latter is more expensive than games especially if you have Napster.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  20. State says:

    They increased the size of the age rating which was originally the same as that on a DVD to the much larger size.

    Doesn’t Vaz understand that age ratings are great marketing tools? Some games make the age rating bigger on purpose to get kids to take even more notice, thus making them want the gamne even more.

  21. Bennett Beeny says:

    So about this health warning – how many studies show a causal link between video game playing and violent behaviour, similar to the links that have been found between nicotine and cancer?  None at all?  Oh great – I’m sure the folks who decide such stuff will get right on that, Keith.

  22. Murdats says:

    actually gaming is one of the cheaper hobbies around

    for example some other popular hobbies




    model airplanes

    anime and/or cosplay


    as far as hobbies that are cheaper goes they would mostly be other forms of media like movies/tv and books

  23. Stealthmaster says:

    You see that picture. He’s facepalming himself because how stupid he looks. Not only video games changed the cultural landscape it pretty much defing a generation. People may think gamers are killers but the truth is that we are just hard working people making a living like everybody else. we just have one expenisve hobbie.

  24. beemoh says:

    And it also makes it noticably larger than the same icons seen on DVDs.


    Left: Fable 2 (X360) Right: Hot Fuzz (DVD)


  25. ChrowX says:

    The majority of studies will actually go ahead and tell you that videogaming have a great deal of benefitis that far outweight that whole messy gray area of stuff that videogames may-or-may-not-but-likely-don’t-actually-cause.

    The biggest issue I’ve seen with these arguments that videogames are bad for your health is that it’s far too late to be yelling things kinds of things. We’ve already got a generation or two who grew up on videogames and went on to be prudctive members of society while continuing to be Gamers.

  26. Magic says:

    Dear Mr Vaz, if we’re putting warning labels on anything that is "psychologically damaging", as opposed to those that do so physically like tobacco and alcohol, then please do the same to for mediums such as novels (Stephen King or certain religious texts), movies (The Saw series) and music (Take your pick).


  27. Cerabret100 says:

    But, in my opinion, cigerrettes are not like games, they directly effect you in scientifically proven ways by hurting your health.

    Games, at most harm your health indirectly, when gaming, you aren’t usually exercising, the simple act of playing alone for reasonable amounts of time does not, in any way proven, directly cause you harm.

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