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Iain Duncan Smith’s Violent Games Controversy: Credit Where Credit’s Due

By on January 26, 2010


Last week Times Online published this Iain Duncan Smith piece, in which the former Tory leader talks about children, and tax and booze… and briefly mentions violent video games. The relevant paragraph is this:

“Innocence, he warns, is being destroyed by children’s television and computer games. ‘We are driving children to lose their childhood, and some video games are incredibly violent, like Grand Theft Auto. They are meant to be 18 but nobody cares what it says on the label.'”

Various gaming sites then went on to sensationalise the story with headlines like “MP: Games are destroying childhood”. The point of this post isn’t to rage at the ever low journalistic standards of some hit-counting gaming websites, but to highlight the fact that a politician has said something broadly fair about games. Every week there’s a new story on how games are destroying society – a genuine story – the last thing we need now is to warp the facts in the rare event that anyone says anything constructive.

IDS’s comment is a brief, possibly even vague element in a general piece blaming parenting, alcohol and even the tax system for society’s downfall. What it certainly is not doing is attacking games, or games developers. It’s true that violent games exist, and it’s true that too many children are playing them. That (some) MPs are bothering to get the specifics straight rather than lambasting the entire industry is something we should be applauding.

We can complain ’til we’re blue in the face that no one takes gaming seriously, but until we grow up it’s a battle with only one conclusion.

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, and has also spent time in production.