Mega Brand Takes Heat from UK MP Keith Vaz and Advocacy Group Over 'Call of Duty' Play Sets

April 7, 2014 - GamePolitics Staff

Late last year Activision announced a licensing deal with LEGO competitor and toy maker Mega Brands to make building toy sets based on its popular mature-rated action game series, Call of Duty. The toy sets, which were launched in January, are finally getting the attention of children's advocacy groups and one outspoken UK MP - UK Labour MP Keith Vaz, who chairs the Commons Home Affairs Committee.

Guardian Reporter's Partner Detained at London's Heathrow Airport for Nine Hours

August 19, 2013 - James Fudge

Update: Politico is reporting that the White House knew that David Miranda would be stopped at London's Heathrow Airport before it happened, but it also denied any involvement in the incident.

"This is a decision that they made on their own and not at the request of the United States," White House principal deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said.

UK Video Game Industry Delighted that Tax Breaks are in New Budget

March 21, 2012 -

Today the British government announced that tax breaks for the video game industry are part of the 2013 budget (thanks beemoh). Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to introduce corporate tax relief beginning in April 2013 for various sectors including video games, animation and high-end television industries. Osborne hopes that these tax breaks will "make the UK the technology centre of Europe."

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UK's Digital Economy Act Remains Toothless

March 6, 2012 -

While the Digital Economy Act was passed in the UK last year, the UK government can't force ISP's in the region to do anything beyond a letter writing campaign against those accused of infringement. The problem lies in the fact that the government needs to make certain changes to the law before it goes into full affect.

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British MPs Argue About Google's Influence Over Copyright Policy

February 9, 2012 -

Google's ears must be ringing because the House of Commons seems to be saying its name a lot this week. Ministers in the UK are arguing over Google's supposed influence in UK copyright policy.

Pete Wishart, a Scottish MP from Perth, took to the floor earlier in the week to give online rights groups and companies like Google a piece of his mind. Ars Technica has a great news story chronicling the exchange among lawmakers. First up is MP Wishart:

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UK Secretary of State for Education Tells Students He Supports More Computer Science in Schools

December 6, 2011 -

UK secretary of state for education Michael Gove came out in support of the call for computer science to be part of the National Curriculum. Gove made his comments while talking to students at Catmose College about information technologies in schools.

"What we should have is computer science in the future, and how it fits into the curriculum is something that we need to talk to scientists, to experts in coding, and to young people about, to make sure that that part of what happens in schools which deal with technology and computing is relevant," Gove said.

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UK MP Keith Vaz Calls for Debate on Video Games Buoyed by Indiana University Research

December 2, 2011 -

Leicester East MP (United Kingdom) Keith Vaz is at it again, now buoyed by research released last week that found that violent video games change the brain in young adult males. The MP has called for a debate on the harmful effect of violent games just as parents are considering buying them as presents for their children during the holiday shopping season.

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UK Labour MP Keith Vaz Assails Modern Warfare 3 in Early Day Motion

November 23, 2011 -

If there's one thing you can say about anti-game campaigner and UK Labour MP Keith Vaz, it's that he is tenacious in his fight against games. This week MP Vaz raised his fourth early day motion aimed at violent games, this time specifically targeting Activision's recently released Modern Warfare 3.

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Full PEGI Implementation Delays Continue

November 15, 2011 -

MCV is reporting that the introduction of the PEGI ratings system as the standard for games ratings in the United Kingdom has been delayed even further. Last week game industry trade group UKIE announced that the ratings system wouldn't be officially used by the UK until sometime in "early 2012." Today we learn that UKIE has pushed the implementation of PEGI further back to a date to yet to be determined.

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UK PM Calls on Government to Help Support 'The Next Generation of Programmers'

November 11, 2011 -

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said in a recent interview that the British Government is currently "not doing enough to actually teach the next generation of programmers."

Cameron made his comments in an interview given at a Tech City event. The Prime Minister went on to say that comments from UK businesses had highlighted the need for people who can create new programs.

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UK's Digital Economy Act Does Little, According to Conference

October 21, 2011 -

The United Kingdom's Digital Economy Act was supposed to make pirates shake in their boots, but most experts say that law has had little effect on illegal activity since it was introduced. Several experts converged on London to discuss why and the BBC examines all the take-aways. One of those take-aways is that the law currently languishes in Brussels, waiting for the European Commission to approve changes to who should ultimately pay for implementing it.

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UK Labour MP Tom Watson Becomes Labour Party Deputy Chair

October 7, 2011 -

Britain’s game development community received some good news this week that gave them hope that tax relief for the industry is still a possibility. One of the most vocal supporters of giving the games industry tax relief is now at the top of the political heap. Labour MP Tom Watson has been appointed as Labour Party deputy chair, part of a reshuffle of the opposition party. Watson, whose activism during the News Corp phone hacking scandal saw his popularity soar, is also an avid video game fan.

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TIGA CEO Calls on UK Government to Do More for Games Industry

October 6, 2011 -

In a guest editorial on the UK version of the Huffington Post, TIGA CEO Richard Wilson ask the British government to give the game industry a break ... a tax break.

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Eidos President Praises Google Chairman's Skills Review 'Endorsement'

August 31, 2011 -

Eidos life president Ian Livingstone has praised Google chairman Eric Schmidt for a recent speech about the state of education in the UK, calling it a "ringing endorsement" of the Livingstone-Hope video games skills review. In fact, says Livingstone, "It's as though he lifted his comments straight from Next Gen." - referring to the report he helped create.

UK culture minister Ed Vaizey was also apparently "delighted" that Schmidt's MacTaggart lecture echoed the key conclusions of the government-backed Next Gen report.

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TIGA Calls for Expanded R&D Tax Credits in the UK

August 22, 2011 -

UK video game industry trade group TIGA proposed today that the UK's Coalition Government should open the Small Firms R&D Tax Credit to promote "a high technology recovery and job creation in high technology industries." TIGA made the comments in response to a "consultation exercise" by HM Treasury on the R&D tax credits.

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UK MP Jim McGovern Pushes for Games Tax Relief

June 20, 2011 -

UK video game industry trade group TIGA today issued a statement supporting MP Jim McGovern's call on the Creative Industries Minister to review the issue of Games Tax Relief "as a matter of priority." The MP made his comments yesterday in Parliament. McGovern raised the issue in Culture, Media and Sport questions in the Westminster Parliament with the Creative Industries Minister, Ed Vaizey MP. Obviously TIGA supports tax incentives for the videogame industry.

"I discussed future Government support for the creative industries—including the video games sector—with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the development of the plan for growth which was published alongside Budget 2011," said Edward Vaizey. "The plan for growth sets out the specific actions that we are taking to tackle major barriers to growth in the creative industries and to create the right conditions for creative businesses to flourish."

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Report: PEGI Ratings Could Be Law by Year's End

June 15, 2011 -

The United Kingdom's Department for Culture, Media and Sport said this week that complex technical details are behind the delay of implementing PEGI age-ratings for video games in the UK. There is some doubt that the ratings system will become law this year, but the DCMS says that it is working hard on getting it done.

"We are working to put the scheme into implementation as soon as possible," a DCMS spokesperson told GamesIndustry.biz, but did not offer a revised timetable.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, UKIE, the Video Standards Council, and ratings body the BBFC, are said to be at a "delicate" stage in the negotiations. Sources familiar with the matter tell GameIndustry.biz that there is a general optimism that the system has a chance of becoming law "by Christmas." All involved want to sort out the details and get things right the first time, before pushing forward.

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UKIE Applauds Bailey Review

June 6, 2011 -

UK video game industry trade  group UKIE issued a press statement today "welcoming" the "Bailey Review of the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood." The report emphasized the need for "responsible action" of video game developers when it comes to protecting children and the positive steps the industry has taken. In its submission to the Review (found here), UKIE pointed out the positive actions the UK video games industry is already taking to protect children. Those efforts include the introduction of the PEGI age rating system for video games, responsible advertising and online ratings efforts.  UKIE (then as ELSPA) successfully lobbied the government to "enshrine" the PEGI system in the Digital Economy Act 2010.

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UK Labour MP Keith Vaz Continues Anti-Game Agenda

May 20, 2011 -

An Early Day Motion tabled by UK Labour MP Keith Vaz, an outspoken critic of video games, has managed to garner 11 signatures. The Early Day Motion calls for better control of video game sales to customers under the age of 18, and encourages parents to limit the screen time of children. Eight signatures are from Labour MPs, with one from the Liberal Democrats, one from the Conservatives and another from the DUP. The petition was tabled last Friday, May 13th.

Develop points out that these signatories have basically agreed that video games are addictive, and that game playing should be combined with a variety of extra-curricular activities (preferably outdoors) to ensure that "children flourish." The motion also highlights the "Hungarian EU Presidency priority of protecting minors from harmful audiovisual media content in media legislation.”

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UK Government Report Calls For Changes in Copyrights Laws

May 18, 2011 -

A review of copyright laws in the United Kingdom recommends that the government makes some serious changes that work in the digital age we now live in. A new report, requested by PM David Cameron who had concerns that current copyright laws had become outdated, has been released and it recommend some changes that the music, movie and other entertainment industries might find horrific.

The report penned by Professor Ian Hargreaves of Cardiff University suggests legalizing the practice of copying music and films. It also calls for a special agency to be set up (a Digital Copyright Exchange) to handle mediation between rights holders and those that want to license content. Other suggestions include loosening rules on fair use, parodies and other uses of content.

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UKIE Calls on British Government to Include Computer Science in National Curriculum

April 14, 2011 -

UK video game trade group UKIE has called on the British government to include computer science as a major part of the National Curriculum, saying that it is integral to the future growth of the country's high tech industries and the game industry.

The National Curriculum is currently under general review and UKIE is doing its best to put its two cents in by making its own submission. The group says that computer science should be taught as a standalone subject available to all children beginning in grade school. Current curriculum focuses on using existing software packages and does not offer solutions that teach software creation or any programming skills.

UKIE's recommendations point to the Livingstone Hope review, which also called for sweeping changes to the way computing subjects are taught in schools. UKIE says that the current skills gap is bad for the video games industry and any business that have computer technology skills at its core.

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UK Secretary of State: Game Industry Tax Relief 'Constantly Under Review'

April 1, 2011 -

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, claims that the much lobbied for tax relief for the UK games industry is "constantly under review." His comments were in response to a question from the Conservative MP for Folkestone & Hythe, Damian Collins.

UK games industry trade group Tiga welcomed Hunt's comments. Tiga CEO Richard Wilson said the following:

"Whilst, we were delighted that the government made changes to the R&D tax credits which we campaigned for in last week's Budget, the introduction of TIGA's Games Tax Relief is the one measure which would really power the UK video games sector forward," he said.

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New Tiga Report Calls for Better R&D Tax Credits

March 9, 2011 -

UK games industry trade group TIGA today published a new report called "Powering a high technology recovery: proposals for improving R&D tax credits," which continues to urge the government to improve the research and development tax credit to better support the interactive entertainment industry.

The report focuses on how the R&D tax credits system can be improved for the UK games industry. TIGA says that its proposals for the R&D tax credits would "deliver 60 - 75 percent more value to games studios than the current R&D tax credit regime." This, it says would enable studios to invest more in R&D, generate and retain new IP, and hire more development staff.

TIGA offers the following key proposals:

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Usual UK Suspects Bag on We Dare

February 28, 2011 -

While most looked at that We Dare trailer and thought "hey this is pretty silly," some regular haters in the United Kingdom are stepping up to complain about Ubisoft's adult-themed Wii game. Speaking to the Daily Mail (a regular hater of all things fun), Leicaster East MP Keith Vaz released a statement that was constrained and to the pint: he thinks the rating for the game may be too low. Even pro video game fans might tend to agree with him:

"The new 'We Dare' game has clearly been wrongly marked as a 12 plus. As a family friendly console, Wii must ensure that there are proper checks and a full consultation before games are graded for use by children. This game should not be released until these checks are made."

Fair enough. The game does contain mini-games that I wouldn't want my 12-year-old engaging in.. like spanking another 12-year-old.. But I suppose that's all up to their parents.

UK Chancellor Promises Support for Industry in Private Meeting

February 17, 2011 -

According to a report on Gamasutra, UK Chancellor George Osborne promised support to the video game industry in a private meeting earlier this month with key media and entertainment executives. Among the topics discussed at this meeting were the Government's 'Growth Review' that launched late last year and how the government can work with digital and creative industries to offer better support.

"The fact that we had representation at the meeting is an acknowledgment in itself that the video games industry is being taken seriously and that it is important socially, culturally and economically to the UK," said Ian Livingstone, Eidos president for life and one of the senior entertainment executives that attended the meeting.

Livingstone spoke well of chancellor Osborne and his eagerness to work with the industry:

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The Scottish Affairs Committee Report: 'Video Games Industry in Scotland'

February 7, 2011 -

The Scottish Affairs Committee released a 38-page report today called "Video Games Industry in Scotland," that highlights twenty key proposals it believes will improve the video game industry in the UK. Some of those proposals include tax relief similar to what is offered forto the movie industry, research & development tax relief, and adaption of the Livingstone-Hope Review, among other things designed to create a more prosperous environment for game makers and publishers.

On a related note, the UK industry trade group TIGA said in a press release today that it "welcomed" the report and said that many of the proposals it listed echoed much of what it has said in the past.

The entire list of proposals - taken from Develop - can be found below:

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Livingstone-Hope Report Calls for Merger of UK Trade Groups

February 1, 2011 -

A new report calls for UK trade groups TIGA and UKIE to work together to better support the industry in the region. The recommendation is part of the UK video games education review revealed today (the Livingstone-Hope report).

"Progress is all about simplification not complication," reads the report. "In order to be clearly heard, it is important to speak with a single voice. To be taken seriously the video games industry and its trade bodies must be united to raise awareness of the opportunities it offers and the issues it faces. Only then will it be able to effect change."

The report goes on to say that the UK games industry would be better served by one organization - possibly by combining the two groups.

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Axis Animation: Level Playing Field Not Possible in UK Even with Tax Relief

January 31, 2011 -

In an interview on GameIndustry.biz Axis Animation Managing Director Richard Scott said that - even with tax breaks in the UK - it would be impossible to create a "level playing field" with the international development community. Scott explained to GI.biz that because his company works across the mediums (games, film and TV) he was able to see the effects of the UK's positive tax environment. He says that if tax relief ever becomes a reality for the game industry, the government needs to offer incentives that help "local creatives" and not attract international companies.

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TIGA Renews Tax Relief Appeal to UK Government

January 26, 2011 -

UK video game industry trade group TIGA has re-released a revised 85-page document showing the positives of the government offering tax relief to the industry. The report, a revision of a document that was released to Labour Party government in 2008, was put together by TIGA, Osborne Clarke, games research firm Games Investor Consulting. The thrust of the report is that, if the government were to approve tax relief for the video game industry, it could create 3,366 industry jobs and create £431 million in investments.

TIGA says that this tax relief should be calculated in the same way that existing tax relief for British films is calculated.

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Gamers' Voice launches Recruitment Drive

January 25, 2011 -

UK-based gamer lobby group Gamers' Voice announced this morning that it is looking for volunteers to help the organization grow in 2011. The group makes the following pitch to gamers in the region:

"If you have ever wanted the chance to defend video games and the people who play them from uninformed bias and undeserved ridicule, then now is your chance. The UK video games industry has two trade bodies who represent their interests. Those being; TIGA and UKIE. But consumers of video games in the UK also need a high profile advocate, which is where we come in."

Those interested need to have an understanding of the video game industry in the UK, must love gaming, must reside in the UK, and must put aside a few hours a week.

They are particularly interested in individuals with unique skills: web designers, graphic designers and writers.

 
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E. Zachary KnightGot that same recommendation on Twitter. So I guess that is a good sign.09/15/2014 - 8:39pm
prh99Portlandia, though I don't watch a lot of sitcoms. Heard it was good though.09/15/2014 - 8:02pm
E. Zachary KnightSitcom recommendations for someone who like Parks and Rec but hates The Office: Go.09/15/2014 - 6:08pm
NeenekoEven if they do change their policy, they can only do it moving forward and I could see the mod/pack community simply branching.09/15/2014 - 12:50pm
Michael ChandraAs for take the money and run, the guy must have a networth of 8~9 digits already.09/15/2014 - 10:33am
Michael ChandraMe, I'm more betting on some form of mod API where servers must run donations/payments through them and they take a cut.09/15/2014 - 10:32am
Michael ChandraEspecially since they want it for promoting their phones. Killing user interest is the dumbest move to make.09/15/2014 - 10:32am
Michael ChandraGiven how the EULA actively allows for LPs, I'm not sure Microsoft is ready for the backlash of disallowing that.09/15/2014 - 10:31am
Matthew Wilsonthey wont do that, the backlash would be too big.09/15/2014 - 10:25am
ConsterSleaker: how is that a flipside? Sounds to me like that's basically what Notch himself said, except rudely.09/15/2014 - 10:18am
MaskedPixelanteOn the plus side, no more lazy Minecraft LPs, since iirc Microsoft has a strict "no monetization period" policy when it comes to their stuff.09/15/2014 - 10:13am
james_fudgeBut it continues to sell on every platform it is on, so there's that09/15/2014 - 10:09am
james_fudgeOh, well that's another matter :)09/15/2014 - 10:08am
E. Zachary KnightNothing against Notch here. I think it is great that he made something so cool. I just can't understand how it is worth $2.5 bil09/15/2014 - 9:59am
InfophileWhat a world we live in: Becoming a billionaire was the easy way out for Notch.09/15/2014 - 9:42am
james_fudgelots of hate for Notch here. I don't get it. Sorry he made a game everyone loved. What a monster he is!09/15/2014 - 9:37am
SleakerOn the flipside, Notch has been a horrible CEO for Mojang, and the company has grown on sheer inertia, DESPITE being mishandled over and over.09/15/2014 - 9:33am
SleakerI can understand Notch's statements he made to Kotaku about growing bigger than he intended, and getting hate for EULA changes he didn't enact.09/15/2014 - 9:32am
MaskedPixelantehttp://pastebin.com/n1qTeikM Notch's statement about the MS acquisition. He wanted out for a long time and this was the easiest way.09/15/2014 - 9:08am
ConsterEh, I can't blame him.09/15/2014 - 9:01am
 

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