Video games violence and the economic worth of the UK games industry took centre stage at a heated debate in the House of Commons this afternoon, as Labour MP Tom Watson took it on himself to defend the sector from the types of accusations regularly thrown around by the press.
Referencing tonight's much-hyped Modern Warfare 2 launch, established games sceptic Keith Vaz asked the following of Culture, Media and Sports Minister Sion Simon: Is the Minister aware that at midnight tonight a new and violent videogame called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 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 particular scenes.
Given the recommendations of the Byron Review, what steps is the government proposing to take in order to ensure these violent games do not fall into the hands of children and young people?”
Simon reiterated the words of the infamous Byron Review which state that, just like films, an 18-rated video game should not be sold to minors.
However, Labour MP for West Bromwich Easy Tom Watson went one further: I've seen the content in this videogame. It is unpleasant, though no worse than in many films and books, it is an 18-plus game and carries the BBFC 18-plus rating as well.
Does the Minister agree that it would be better for 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 moral panic over the use of videogames?”
Tom Watson has subsequently set up a Facebook pressure group called Gamer's Voice, which carried the following description:
Are you sick of UK newspapers and (my fellow) politicians beating up on gaming? So am I. The truth is, UK gamers need their own pressure group. I want to help you start one up.
I don't know how it should work yet but please register your interest if you agree that gamers need their voice hear in the corridors of power.”