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Watson: Gamers' pressure group could be "game-changing"

Labour MP "taken aback" by response to Facebook campaign as hundreds join in first few hours

Labour MP Tom Watson believes a Facebook 'pressure group' for gamers he created could be "a game-changing move for Parliament" - after being "incensed" by remarks made by fellow MP Keith Vaz on the violent content of Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2.

'Gamers’ Voice', created this morning "to discuss how UK video gamers can find their voice in newspapers and government", recruited hundreds of members following Watson's earlier defence of the UK games industry in the House of Commons.

Speaking after the Culture, Media and Sports Questions session, Watson, MP for West Bromwich East, told GamesIndustry.biz: "I’ve thought about [creating a group] for a while, but I was so incensed by yet another Daily Mail article that I just pinged it up there to gauge reaction. And frankly, 400 people in what, four hours, I’ve been slightly taken aback by it." The group had over 750 members at the time of writing.

"There is a legitimate debate about how you handle difficult content. What we’ve really got to do is educate these young MPs to realise the scale of the industry and the cultural significance of the industry, because they’ve just had three years of Keith battering on about the industry, about the content."

Watson tabled a question to Sion Simon, Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, in response to Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East, who highlighted the controversy surrounding "scenes of brutality" in Modern Warfare 2, which officially releases Tuesday.

Watson defended the games industry, suggesting: "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."

He later revealed: "The media are saying they want to do head to head interviews with the two of us, so I don’t think it will go away."

Controversy surrounds the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, rated 18 by the BBFC, specifically a scene in which the player joins a terrorist gang which murders unarmed civilians in an airport.

The official UK launch event is being held this evening in London's Leicester Square, with the game out worldwide tomorrow.

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Johnny Minkley

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Johnny Minkley is a veteran games writer and broadcaster, former editor of Eurogamer TV, VP of gaming charity SpecialEffect, and hopeless social media addict.

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