Vaz: "Parents have a huge responsibility"

But Labour MP admits to not knowing which games his 14 year old son plays

Labour MP Keith Vaz has declared in a radio interview that when it comes to ensuring children can't gain access to adult-rated videogames, there is a huge responsibility on the part of parents - and he then went on to admit that he doesn't actually know which games his own 14 year old son plays at home.

Speaking on SubCity's Debate is Free programme yesterday, he also restated his belief that videogame boxes should have cigarette-style warnings about health concerns "splashed across the front".

"Parents have a huge responsibility, and it is extremely important that we should be in a position where we are telling parents about their responsibilities," he said. "I think it is very important.

"It's part and parcel of a partnership, isn't it? You have government, manufacturers, retailers and parents - all four have to do their bit. I have a son who is 14 years of age - I don't know what games he looks at, but I shall ensure that in future I will look at the covers, to make sure that these games are not over the age of 18.

"I think that's what parents are to do - constant vigilance."

When questioned specifically about the fact that packaging already contains rating certificates, as with films, he argued that there were checks in place to prevent children from seeing adult films.

"The difference between films and videogames is that if you go to the cinema and you're under a certain age, you're not let in," he said. "With a videogame, the evidence we have is that people are let in - so something really does need to be done.

"If you look to the packaging of an 18-rated videogame, it's [the size of] a tiny 10p coin. What it should be is the same as cigarettes - it should be splashed across the front: 'This has the potential to damage your health' - and that is not happening."

The debate was taking place as part of a look at the controversy surrounding Activision's Modern Warfare 2, which was released in the UK last Tuesday and broke day one and week one sales records. TIGA CEO Richard Wilson also appeared on the programme, and made the case for a videogames tax relief.

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Latest comments (5)

Mat Bettinson Business Development Manager, Tantalus Media8 years ago
This is very special indeed. Keith Vaz in one breath says parents have a huge responsibility and in he second goes on to point out how he's neglected his own responsibility in knowing what his son is playing. Nice.

Ultimately Keith Vaz not knowing what games his son is playing at all would be rectified by placing a huge 18 warning sticker on the front of them.

Presumably we don't need to wait for the surgeon general to actually gather some evidence for the damage caused in videogames in order to replicate cigarette-style warnings on videogame boxes either. Maybe we need little pictures too, like say a child with a bloody axe having murdered the entire family. "Warning videogames can destroy your child's mind" *.

* P.S. Tell Dad you're playing this game.

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Antony Cain Lecturer in Computer Games Design, Sunderland College8 years ago
Maybe half the TV display should be taken up by these warnings.
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To summerise:
"Parents have a huge responsibility to bring up their children. Er, actually, no they don't and the government - i.e. me - should be bringing up your children instead. On the other hand I can't even bring up my own children correctly. Did I mention I help run the country?"

What else would you expect from the fundamentally corrupt, fly-by-night, opportunist, stuffed-envelope snorting low-brow, Keith Vaz?
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Nik Love-Gittins Senior Character Artist, FreeStyleGames8 years ago
Easy might get a writ... :)

"I will look at the covers, to make sure that these games are not over the age of 18". No retro-games for his kids then.

On a more serious note, I am pretty sure that if it was deemed necessary to have a 'health warning' on games, then that would give the government a good opportunity to start taxing them, as they do cigs and booze...and I really wouldn't put that past them...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nik Love-Gittins on 18th November 2009 2:04pm

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Kirsteen Fraser Freelance journalist 7 years ago
Glad to know you enjoyed my show. We will be improving our videogame news and content for next year after our hiatus.
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