"Violent" MW2 discussed in Parliament

Government stands behind age ratings.  

The UK government has defended mature videogame content, and stated that when it's rated properly grown-ups "can get what adults should be able to".

Outspoken Labour MP Keith Vaz questioned Sion Simon (Culture, Media and Sport Minister) about plans to stop "violent" game Modern Warfare 2 falling into the hands of children, since it "contains such scenes of brutality that even the manufacturers have put in warnings". "It's not about censorship," Vaz said, "it's about protecting our children."

"The clearest recommendation of the Byron Review is that content suitable for adults should be labelled as such and sold as such, that it should be an offence to sell such content to children," countered Simon.

"That's the case under current law, it will be the case with the law when it changes under the Digital Economy Bill. This game the honourable gentleman refers to is a certificate 18 game, it should not be sold to children and the government's job is to make sure that adults, clearly labelled, can get what adults should be able to, and that children are not in danger of being subjected to adult content. "

Tom Watson, Labour MP for West Bromwich East, revealed that he had seen the "unpleasant" content in the game, but said it was "no worse than many films and books" of similar rating.

He urged the Minister not to start "collaborating with the Daily Mail to create moral panic over the use of videogames" and get on with supporting the games industry instead.

You can read the entire transcript below.

Keith Vaz, Labour, Leicester East (in response to an answer from Sion Simon on the Byron Review - "What steps have been taken to implement the review on Safer Children in a digital world?")

"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, specifically paragraphs 32 and 33, 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. It's not about censorship, it's about protecting our children."

Sion Simon, Culture, Media and Sport Minister

The clearest recommendation of the Byron Review is that content suitable for adults should be labelled 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 with the law when it changes under the Digital Economy Bill. This game the hon. gentleman refers to is a certificate 18 game, it should not be sold to children and the government's job is to make sure that adults, clearly labelled, can get what adults should be able to, and that children are not in danger of being subjected to adult content.

Tom Watson, Labour, West Bromwich East

"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?"

Sion Simon, Culture, Media and Sport Minister

"I was in Dundee last week visiting the videogames industry. I can certainly agree with him that videogames is an industry, a very large, 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 the government, continue to support.

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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