Tom Watson, Labour MP for West Bromwich East, has defended the UK games industry this afternoon, urging the government to focus on the strength of the industry rather than its poor media profile.
Watson was countering questions from Labour's Keith Vaz, who used the release of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to reignite the age-ratings debate and ask the government what steps it was taking to ensure 18-rating games aren't sold to minors.
"Is the Minister aware that at midnight tonight a new and violent videogame called Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 is to be released?" Vaz asked Sion Simon, Culture Media and Sport Minister. "It contains such scenes of brutality that even the manufacturers have put in warnings within the game telling people how they can skip particular scenes."
"Given the recommendations of the Byron Review, specifically paragraphs 32 and 33, what steps is the government proposing to take in order to ensure these violent games do not fall into the hands of children and young people? It’s not about censorship, it’s about protecting our children," added Vaz.
Simon repeated the Byron Review's recommendation of clearly labelling adult-rated games, adding: "This game the hon. gentleman refers to is a certificate 18 game, it should not be sold to children and the government's job is to make sure that adults, clearly labelled, can get what adults should be able to, and that children are not in danger of being subjected to adult content."
Taking a dig at Vaz's negative comments in today's Daily Mail about Modern Warfare 2, Watson said it was more important to support the industry rather than help "create moral panic" with the media.
"I’ve seen the content in this videogame, it is unpleasant, though no worse than in many films and books, it is an 18-plus game and carries the BBFC 18-plus rating as well," offered Watson.
"Does the Minister agree that it would be better for this House to support the many thousands of games designers and coders and the many millions of games users, rather than collaborating with the Daily Mail to create moral panic over the use of videogames?"
Watson set up a pressure group this morning – Gamers' Voice – to represent gamers in the UK, which already has over 400 members.