Modern Warfare 2 brought up in House of Commons, video games defended
Update: There is now a video of the debate over at BBC News
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll no doubt know that tomorrow, Activision’s money maker Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is released. Being the first game in the Call of Duty series to recieve the 18 rating in the United Kingdom, it contains a very controversial section that I’m sure you’ve heard about by now. (If you haven’t, then I won’t spoil things for you.) The section is regarded so disturbing that Infinity Ward have even allowed players to skip the scene if they don’t wish to play through it. Now, because of this, video games have found their way into the House of Commons again today, no thanks to lover of videogames, Labour MP Keith Vaz.
Vaz brought up the issue by asking Sion Simon, Culture Media and Sports Minister, if they knew about tonight’s midnight release of Modern Warfare 2 and the brutal scenes it contains. Using Modern Warfare 2, he then went on to question how the government will be preventing games like Modern Warfare 2 falling into the hands of minors, in the guise of protecting the children.
In response, Sion Simon referenced the Byron review, saying how the game, rated 18, should only be sold to adults and not children. However, Labour MP Tom Watson, creator of the Gamers’ Voice group, argued that the particular content in question is disturbing but is no worse than anything in an 18 rated film. He then goes on to ask that the games industry should be supported, instead of having the likes of Vaz collaborating with The Daily Mail to create what he calls “moral panic” over the use of videogames. In this comment, he is referencing to the recent article made by The Daily Mail, who is outraged over the scene in question and took a comment from Vaz about it.
Now, in my opinion, the scene in question is disturbing, but at the same time, the game is rated 18 for a reason and scenes like this are the reason why it has in the first place. I also agree with Watson that if this was in an 18 rated film, then the likes of Vaz would not have a problem with it.
No one is arguing here that 18 rated games should get into the hands of children, but creating panic through the likes of The Daily Mail is not the right way of solving the issue. The only way that games like Modern Warfare 2 are falling into the hands of minors is through irresponsible adults. Every game clearly has a marked rating on it’s box, whether that’s a PEGI or BBFC rating and it can easily be seen when picking up the box. 18 rated games are clearly shown, and any responsible adult would recognise it and if they didn’t think the game was suitable then they wouldn’t pick it up for their child. The problem isn’t the video games or retailers, it’s ignorance. There is only so much the government can do.
Unfortunately, today’s event will probably go unnoticed and if anything, will be cast in a negative light for the likes of Watson. It’s also unlikely that the games industry will receive any more recognition by the government after this outburst. For now though, the issue will die down. Until the next violent game that offends Keith Vaz is released anyway.