Vaz calls for video games censorship

By politics.co.uk staff

Keith Vaz has once again put pressure on the government to introduce tougher video game classification.

The Labour MP and chair of the home affairs committee was eager to bring up the subject in prime minister’s questions, which was today headed by deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman.

Mr Vaz cited the recent YouGov survey which found that 74 per cent of British parents were concerned about the content of some video games.

“In a survey published last week 74 per cent of parents said that they were very concerned about the increasing level of violence in video games,” he said.

“Given the fact that there is increasing availability of these games on the internet exhibiting scenes of graphic and gratuitous violence, when is the government proposing to implement the Bryon report in full? This is not about censorship, this is about protecting our children.”

Mr Vaz made it clear he was talking about video game classification, rather than censorship.

The mentioned Byron report refers to a series of proposals written by Tanya Bryon, which concluded that video game classification needed to be improved by raising awareness and enabling better enforcement.

Under current legislation video games are exempt from BBFC classification unless they contain gross violence, sexual activity, or other harmful material. If any of these criteria are breached, the game must be classified by the BBFC before release.

Video games that do not need to be passed onto the BBFC are rated by the voluntary European group PEGI; their ratings are based on a questionnaire filled out by the game’s publisher. The Byron report asks for all games for under 12-year-olds to be rated by the BBFC regardless of their known content.

In response to Keith Vaz’s question, Ms Harman said: “Well I congratulate my right honourable friend for his long standing campaign on this issue.

“We need to make sure that we have tough classifications which are properly enforced. We need to make sure parents have the information they need. We need to make sure that the industry plays their part into it and the government will take action on all these fronts.”

Last year Mr Vaz was criticised for suggesting that games involving rape existed when he attempted to overrule the BBFC on a number of violent video games, including Manhunt 2. He was partially vindicated when a Japan only rape-simulator game went for sale on Amazon.com. The game was pulled from the online retailer following media coverage.