The British Member of Parliament who argued against violent games like Bully and MW2 attended an event in support of the industry to say he likes games after all.
Back in 2004, Keith Vaz was prompted by the murder of a teenager in England to ask the police to investigate the possible link between such violence and the Rockstar game Manhunt. No link could be established and the only copy of Manhunt found was believed to be the victim’s. Later, Vaz commented that he supported the banning of Manhunt 2 by the British Board of Film Censors. He spoke in Parliament against the games Bully, for portraying violence against schoolchildren, and Modern Warfare 2, for the Russian airport scene but no action was taken. As recently as last October, Vaz put forth a motion to investigate how CounterStrike may have influenced a string of shootings in Sweden. Despite all of that, Vaz attended Parliament Games Day yesterday, an event where British MP’s could play games for themselves and discuss the gaming industry. Vaz’s attendance at the event came as quite a surprise, but he said that it’s only violent games that he opposes, and only for those too young to decide for themselves.
“I’ve never been against games,” Vaz said. “I’ve been against violent games that are able to fall into the hands of young people who are perhaps not able to understand the implications of what they’re doing.”
He continued: “I just think it’s very important that people respect and acknowledge the age limits. And the campaign has always been about ensuring there is proper labelling so that people know exactly what kind of games they should have.”
The other dignitaries in the room had a lot to say regarding their colleague’s appearance, including the Minister for Culture Ed Vaizey. “I’m constantly teasing Keith and I think he is aware of the sea-change in videogames and that, particularly with the new generation coming into parliament, there are now many more MPs who grew up with games as a normal part of their life.”
“When Keith Vaz walked in there was a murmur of recognition across the room,” said Paul Gibson, the chairman of Gamers’ Voice, who organized the event. “Keith is a sensible MP but at the same time he hasn’t made many friends in the videogames industry. For him to show up this evening is a show of good will on his part, because he knew when he walked into that room that everyone was going to turn and look. It’s fantastic that he came along – he didn’t stay for long – but the fact he came speaks volumes.”
Maybe Americans like Jack Thompson should take a cue from the politicking skill of people like Vaz. I may not agree 100 percent with Vaz’s views, but it doesn’t seem like he’s a raving lunatic like many who campaign for more stringent ratings of games.