One of the UK’s staunchest anti-games critics is back on the warpath with the news that Keith Vaz, the Labour MP for Leicester East, has gone to Parliament with fresh concerns about the dangers of violent games.
Vaz has table an Early Day Motion to the Commons urging the Government to take “further steps” to flag up violent content in games.
“That this House notes with grave concern that despite the 18 rating that the most violent video games carry, some children and teenagers are still able to acquire them,” he wrote. “Congratulates the work of Mothers Against Violence with regard to their campaign to increase parental awareness of violent games; urges the Government to support the promotion of parental awareness of the violent content of video games which are 18-rated; and calls on the Government to urge Pan-European Game Information to take further steps to highlight the inappropriate content of these games for under 18s.”
What “further steps” Vaz would like in addition to the upcoming legalisation of PEGI age ratings remains wholly unclear.
Vaz was re-elected to Parliament in May despite the Labour Party falling from power. In March fellow Labour MP Tom Watson – a known friend of the games industry – claimed that Vaz has "been on a journey” and that “his views have shifted quite significantly” in light of the lobbying efforts of ELSPA aimed at improving the industry’s relationship with Government.
Sadly, this seems no longer to be the case.
Vaz’s first involvement with the games industry came in the aftermath of 2004’s Manhunt controversy. Rockstar’s violent stealth outing was removed from the shelves of many retailers after Vaz and others successfully linked it to the murder of 14 year-old Leicestershire resident Stefan Pakeerah at the hands of 17 year-old Warren LeBlanc.
It later emerged that it was the victim who owned the game and not the attacker, with the police denying any link between the game and the murder.
Vaz was also one of the most outspoken critics of Rockstar’s Canis Canem Edit, otherwise known as Bully, a game he urged Parliament to ban.
Aside from his interest in the games industry, Vaz is no stranger to controversy. In the late ‘80s he was involved in the protests that resulted in a fatwa being declared on British novelist Salman Rushdie. He has also been involved in two political controversies – one concerning allegations that he accepted bribes from a solicitor and another accusing him of involvement in the Hinduja passport affair.
He was also suspended from the House of Commons for one month in 2002 following false allegations he made about retired police officer Eileen Eddington. Later Vaz was embroiled in the MPs expenses scandal after it emerged he claimed £174k between 2008-2009.