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Tom Jubert: Rumours of Keith Vaz’s Malevolence Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

By on July 8, 2010
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Not entirely disimilar to my defence earlier this year of Iain Duncan Smith, I’m forced to jump to the aid of the man the games press loves to hate. There’s no doubt Keith Vaz has said some entirely idiotic and uninformed things about the games industry, but his latest call for government to better enforce age ratings and prevent 18+ games from falling into children’s hands hardly qualifies as one of them.

Develop bills itself as the UK’s premier destination for informed industry news and comment. Why, then, it feels headlines like “Vaz is back, and games are evil again” are necessary to jolt viewing figures is entirely beyond me. Vaz’s parliament motion reads as follows:

“[…] 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; [this house] congratulates the work of Mothers Against Violence with regard to their campaign to increase parental awareness of violent games [and] 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.”

Last time I checked, one of the main causes for anti-video games press in the mainstream media revolves around children playing inappropriate games. The movement Vaz is supporting is entirely rational and beneficial for our industry. That one of our major industry voices‘ scaremongering is prompting comments such as “I’m surprised he didn’t try to claim that Violent games are child abuse too…. only a matter of time” makes us no better than the knee jerk reactions we’re so often on the receiving end of.

Let’s all just grow up a little, shall we?

This was a guest post by freelance narrative designer, Tom Jubert. Check out his blog at http://blog.tomjubert.com/

About Tom Jubert

Tom Jubert is a freelance games writer / narrative designer, best known for his work on the Penumbra series, for which he was nominated for a Writers' Guild Award. His upcoming releases include Lost Horizon and Driver: San Francisco. He was previously the Managing Editor at GameShadow.com, and has also spent time in production.
  • On this one, Thaddeus, I think I agree with Tom. I agree with you that this doesn't merit any government time (PEGI was passed in the broadly hateful Digital Economy Act, and was one of the few bits of good in that rushed-through travesty), but Vaz is a politician trying to satisfy his many constituencies, and this achieves just that.

    To be fair, PEGI is about to do a lot more (as part of its post DEAct activities) so this is just opportunistic posturing after which he can claim that “PEGI did some stuff after my EDM” which will be true, but emphatically not causal.

    Tom's point, and I agree with this, is that all he did was ask for more enforcement of existing laws to keep inappropriate games out of the hands of children. Does this need Parliamentary time? No. It is a perfectly fair thing to ask for?

    Tom and I both think so.

  • Don't be fooled by Vaz' weasel words.

    It’s already against the law to sell 18 rated games to minors. Here is what you need to consider when thinking about his EDM.

    * Why is this an issue of such urgency that it requires government attention? What grave harm is being done that parliament needs to spend time debating the danger posed by games too children?

    None. There isn’t, it’s just Vaz, again, doing his best to play the Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Children card and take a pop at the games industry.

    What more should PEGI do, that they don’t already do? This EDM states that PEGI aren’t doing enough. Do you think that the PEGI ratings are insufficient? We are already unable to make licensed games for children that is age-rated appropriately if it uses the same themes and contents as the TV show it is based on.

    There is no evidence of harm done, or of widespread breaking of the rules (“some children”? How many, exactly?) and thus no need for government intervention.

    Develop is entirely in the right to call this out for what it is.