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Ban "Call Of Duty 3", Cries Keith Vaz

Oh shut up, Keith Vaz

Oh sigh, as soon as we report some balanced coverage of the effects of gaming, of course Keith Vaz appears once more to make everyone feel stupid again. He’s tabled an Early Day Motion to condemn Modern Warfare 3, presumably after some careful analysis to make sure such a thing would bring him maximum attention. Well, actually he’s condemning “Call Of Duty 3”, which is perhaps a bit late. But heck, why know the name of the game you’re wasting Parliament time over? Where he finds time to play all these games between chairing so many parliamentary committees I cannot imagine. Because of course he’s played the game he describes as having “gratuitous acts of violence”, right? More than that, he’s even finding the time to do his own scientific research, because his (as yet unpublished, I presume) study has found that “there is increasing evidence of a link between perpetrators of violent crime and violent video games users.” Which is a remarkable finding!

This is to be expected from the man who has previously blamed Counter-Strike for racist murders, along with so many more examples of ludicrous, unevidenced nonsense, devastatingly spoken within the Houses of Parliament. Once again he’s calling for the BBFC to ban the sales of such games. Or, as he so subtly puts it, he “calls on the British Board of Film Classification to take further precautions when allowing a game to be sold.” In fact, the full motion reads:

“CALL OF DUTY 3

That this House is deeply concerned about the recently released video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, in which players engage in gratuitous acts of violence against members of the public; notes in particular the harrowing scenes in which a London Underground train is bombed by terrorists, bearing a remarkable resemblance to the tragic events of 7 July 2005; further notes that there is increasing evidence of a link between perpetrators of violent crime and violent video games users; and calls on the British Board of Film Classification to take further precautions when allowing a game to be sold.”

Admittedly only nine other MPs have signed the motion so far, and amusingly, because Vaz is inexplicably a Labour MP, no Tories have put their names to the sensationalist scaremongering rubbish, because he’s on the other side. Honestly, it must cause their brains to fizz-pop. But for Liberal Democrat fans, you might want to watch out for Mike Hancock and Bob Russell, who don’t quite appreciate the “liberal” part of their party title, signing a motion for banning adults’ access to adult games.

Fortunately, scourge of fireworks and hero of gaming, Tom Watson MP, has written an amendment onto the bill. It reads, in full:

leave out from `House’ to end and add `notes that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) gave the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 an 18 classification, noting that `the game neither draws upon nor resembles real terrorist attacks on the underground’; further believes that the game has an excellent user interface and challenges the gamers’ dexterity as well as collaborative skills in an outline setting; and encourages the BBFC to uphold the opinion of the public that whilst the content of video games may be unsettling or upsetting to some, adults should be free to choose their own entertainment in the absence of legal issues or material which raises a risk or harm.’.

Let’s all stand to applaud.

Of course, I found Modern Warfare 3 to be a deeply unpleasant game, though not for any of the reasons someone’s told Vaz are the case. But though I find its sinister desire to have you witness innocents being killed, and its tedious follow-the-leader play, that’s not a cause to ban it! It’s okay to feel uncomfortable, or even to actively not like something, without then abusing your position of power to have it removed from existence. Of course, I think Watson goes a bit far the other way. I’d be fully behind Vaz posting an EDM arguing that “this House thinks Modern Warfare 3’s single player campaign is spectacular but ultimately hollow, insidiously unpleasant while technically an enormous achievement, and furthermore recommends that people not bother with it but stick to the multiplayer.”

As for making spurious claims that violent video games have ever been linked to those who perpetrate violent crimes, let alone that it’s “increasing” – that is grotesquely irresponsible, and the day when Vaz is finally hauled up for deliberately spouting this crap in Parliament cannot come soon enough.

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John Walker

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One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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