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Vaizey: Industry only featured in parliament when MPs "pick on violent games"

Culture minister observes hypocrisy compared to treatment of films

Minister for culture, media and sport Ed Vaizey has criticised politicians' negative attitude towards the games industry.

Whilst appearing before the Scottish Affairs Committee to discuss government assistance for the games industry last month, he tackled a tangential accusation from chair (and Labour MP) Ian Davidson that "You ought to be concerned about the general coarsening of cultural life that is symbolised by the videogames."

The Conservative MP responded that "One of my regrets about the industry has been that the only time it has featured in Parliament is when individual members of Parliament have wanted to use it as an example to pick on violent videogames.

"These seem to be the only way that some politicians think that you can get headlines for the videogames industry when, in fact, what this inquiry will show is that you have got a fantastically successful industry with a huge range of applications."

Vaizey went on to lament an apparent disparity between politicians' treatment of games compared to that of films.

"There is a ratings system for videogames. They are subject to the same kind of controls that film is. So why is it that in terms of our cultural climate we tend to celebrate the success of British film? We stay up for the BAFTAs; we stay up for the Oscars; we love looking at pictures of our film stars in the newspapers and celebrate in their success.

"Yet, we seem again and again only able to come back to the violent nature of videogames... What I object to is that we don't... say, 'The film industry is coarsening our children.' We say, 'That was a violent film and I certainly want to make sure my kids don't see it.'

"You can certainly take that attitude about the videogames industry. You can say, 'That is a violent videogame and I don't want my children to play it.' But you shouldn't say, "That is a violent videogame and the videogames industry is coarsening our children.'"

The MP also claimed that the violence debate was not his mandate. "My job is to support this industry as much as I can because it does tend to get some negative headlines. I feel that the negative headlines are somebody else's responsibility."

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Alec Meer

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A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.

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