Watson defends Modern Warfare 3

Labour MP argues "adults should have the choice" when it comes to unsettling content

The Labour MP Tom Watson has amended an Early Day Motion by fellow MP Keith Vaz, which called on the BBFC to "take further precautions" on the sale of games, citing Modern Warfare 3's controversial portrayal of a terrorist attack on London.

Watson's amendment to the EDM defended the game.

He "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."

The amendment also notes "the game neither draws upon nor resembles real terrorist attacks on the underground."

"Keith, for many year, has been very critical of adult content in video games and he's homed in particularly on the Call Of Duty franchise," Watson told The Guardian.

"He's tabled a motion, about a week ago, condemning the game. I just amended it to make the point that the game has an 18 classification and that the BBFC said in a statement that it bore no resemblance to the July 7 bombings in London - which is what he refers to in his motion."

"There may be disturbing or unsettling content in that game, but adults should have the choice as to whether they want to play those sorts of games or not."

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Latest comments (22)

One might think that Keith Vaz might have more pressing things to worry about, like how to reimburse the taxpayer for those John Lewis cushions he put on expenses. But it's good to see that Tom Watson is still standing up for the industry, even while he is fighting Rupert Murdoch at the same time.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 6 years ago
Why doesn't Vaz condemn far more violent books, the bible for instance? Likewise film, music and television.

He misses the point that video gaming is just the latest entertainment and communication medium.
There was a similar ill informed outrage against penny dreadfulls in the 19th century and super hero comics in the 20th century.

Also when he pronounces on video games he is usually factually wrong, as Tom Watson has pointed out repeatedly. It is a pity that more MPs don't stand up for the thousands of workers in their constituencies that make a living from the video game industry.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 6 years ago
10 MPs have signed EDM 2427

Caton, Martin Labour Party Gower
Corbyn, Jeremy Labour Party Islington North
Hancock, Mike Liberal Democrats Portsmouth South
Hopkins, Kelvin Labour Party Luton North
McCrea, Dr William Democratic Unionist Party South Antrim
Meale, Alan Labour Party Mansfield
Osborne, Sandra Labour Party Ayr Carrick and Cumnock
Russell, Bob Liberal Democrats Colchester
Simpson, David Democratic Unionist Party Upper Bann
Vaz, Keith Labour Party Leicester East

Anyone in the industry who lives or works in any of these constituencies should write to their MP explaining the facts of life to them.

With video games there are two reports that inform the effect on society.
The first is in the form of a book called Grand Theft Childhood which I have read and which is based on extensive real world research. This concluded that violent games reduce real world violent crime. Possibly because they act as a catharsis.
The second is Tanya Byron's report for the last government that concluded that there was no harm caused.
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Show all comments (22)
Simon Gardner CEO, Climax6 years ago
Hancock, Mike Liberal Democrats Portsmouth South

and he was so nice when he came for a photo opportunity at our studio a few years ago, all smiles for the I invite him back.
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Interesting to see two DUP names on the list - Vaz clearly had to crawl pretty far to find enough Victorian Moralist's in the UK in 2011. Not even the Tories have them any more it seems, as the list is mainly lots of Labour nanny ninnys - what a surprise.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D6 years ago
Yeah, really can't see Willie McCrea playing MW3.

[link url=
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Tommy Thompson Studying Artificial Intelligence (PhD), University of Strathclyde6 years ago
When I first heard Vaz's latest rant I was amused by his insistence on the BBFC making a stance, only to fail to read or reference their report which completely contradicts his argument. Nice that Watson took a stand. For those who haven't read it, the full classification report is on the BBFC website, but a substantial part of it covers the London scenes, which I've added below. Naturally, spoilers ahoy!

"CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 3 includes a level set in a fictional London in which Special Forces soldiers chase enemy Russian mercenaries through London Underground tunnels as the mercenaries attempt to escape on a train. The train, which contains no civilian passengers, crashes beneath Westminster Underground Station and the battle continues through the station up to street level. It is possible for passengers waiting on an Underground platform to be shot, however doing so almost immediately results in a check point restart. The action is firmly focussed on chasing and stopping the mercenaries. Some comparison has been drawn between the action in the game and terrorist attacks on the London Underground in July 2005. However, a full examination of the game makes clear that the storyline is far removed from these real events, neither drawing upon nor resembling real terrorist attacks on the Underground. Nevertheless the location of the action in familiar London settings, both above and below ground, establishes a context within which the tone and impact of the work may, for some, be more unsettling, and upsetting, than in previous games in the series. The BBFCs decision to restrict the game to adults primarily reflects moments of strong violence, but also takes account of these contextual elements."
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 6 years ago
Subject: EDM 2427
Date: 24 November 2011 12:41:00 GMT


As an MP with around 10 video game companies in their constituency ( ) I presume you will be supporting Tom Watson in this matter and opposing Keith Vaz.

If you need any further background information about the issues involved or want to know more about this industry in your constituency please don't hesitate in contacting me.


Bruce Everiss
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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 6 years ago
Tommy, you are applying logic here.

Mr Vaz is losing his touch, last year he has another EDM that attracted alot more signaures. (EDM - 340)

I do second the views of Bruce that if your MP has signed that motion to contact them and call them out for it.
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Colin McBride Studying MA in 3D Design for Virtual Worlds, Glasgow Caledonian University6 years ago
This seems to me to be part of the problem with the UK. Instead of supporting what is still a healthy and burgeoning industry, the Government still insists on using it as a convenient whipping boy and political football for any politico who fancies a bit of grandstanding and cheap point-scoring at the industry's expense. Politicians like Vaz really need to do a bit of growing up, I think...
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I think there are more pressing real world issues to tackle than sensationalist aspects esp related to games.

Lets see some real work, on real life issues to improve the lot for UK, rather than mindless waffle from Vaz.
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Glenn Flanagan Creative Director, Arctic Tiger Ltd6 years ago
No-one ever complained this much about The World is not Enough on N64!
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Tommy Thompson Studying Artificial Intelligence (PhD), University of Strathclyde6 years ago
@John My mistake, what was I thinking?!?
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Marty Greenwell Software Developer 6 years ago
@Glenn there was an uproar when Death Wish 3 came out on the Spectrum and C64 in 1987 though. You could shoot grannies in the back with shotguns and rocket launchers - a bit of the old ultra-violence.
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They said 10 years ago that the politicians would come around by the time I finished school...I'm still waiting.
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Pete Thompson Editor 6 years ago
The politicians in this country are a joke! Instead of wasting time on trying to take entertainment away from mature people, I wished they'd sort out our ISP's and get them to bring our countries broadband infrastucture upto date because as a nation we are lagging (pun intended) behind!

Once they've sorted that out maybe they could clamp down on parents who buy 18 rated games for their underage kids..
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Max Priddy6 years ago
The only controversy caused here is by either those looking for attention or those who fail to see the bigger picture, Keith Vaz is most likely the former.
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Cant even get reliable 3G, much less roaming 3G. What chances of a decent 4G

What decent chance of epetetions having a proper debate instead of 1-3 line whips.

What chance of democracy - (The Westminster Parliment is not democratic. Its partially a republic, but mainly it looks like a regular Canteen jostle during PMQs where policy becomes a point of entertainment, but nothign really significant gets passed. It feels like all a predicated pretence)

And thus, at the butt end of the pile, what chance of proper representation for the entertainment industry instead of being the whipping boy for jokers like K vaz....
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Bryan Robertson Gameplay Programmer, Ubisoft Toronto6 years ago
To give him his due, I think the MP from my area back home (Jim McGovern/Dundee West) is really good with regard to defending the games industry, and recognises the value that it provides to the city. There are some politicians out there that support us.
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Tony Johns6 years ago
Politicians like Vaz will never grow up.

The people of his seat should have kicked his @$$ out of office years ago. The tax payers dont deserve someone like him after all the damage he has tried to cause to the industry over the years.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany6 years ago
Honestly, there are a lot of violent content to complain in a lot of games if that is what Mr. Keith wants to make a living of. But how come that each time we read an article like this the controversy is all around things that are not there?. I mean cases like "In Carmageddon you can run-over pregnant women to get double score" (In the Spanish press) or the more recent "In The Darkness II you can kill cops in brutal ways" (When there are no cops at all in the game).

Then in Spain they complain that none takes them seriously. Using arguments like that it does not come as a surprise...
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Liam Farrell6 years ago
Good on Tom Watson. Since the gamers' voice group he started has died a silent death, he seems the lone voice of sanity in the mainstream media, when it comes to games. Sometimes it feels like nothing ever changes
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