Modern Warfare: Tom Watson takes on Keith Vaz in video game battle

By Ian Dunt

Keith Vaz's latest campaign against video games has met unexpected resistance from fellow Labour MP Tom Watson.

Last week, the home affairs committee chairman put down a motion condemning Modern Warfare 3, the most successful entertainment release of the year, as encouraging violence in real life.

The motion, which gained the support of numerous Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs, has now had an amendment added to it by video games enthusiast Mr Watson.

The amendment argues that "the game has an excellent user interface and challenges the gamers' dexterity as well as collaborative skills".

It also backs the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which gave the game an 18 certificate but was called upon to take further action in Mr Vaz's motion.

The amendment "encourages the BBFC to uphold the opinion of the public that whilst the content of video games may be unsettling or upsetting to some, adults should be free to choose their own entertainment in the absence of legal issues or material which raises a risk or harm".

Modern Warfare 3 prompted controversy for a scene which takes place on the London Underground, as the player tries to stop Russian fighters from detonating a chemical bomb. Critics said the scene was reminiscent of the London bombings.

The previous instalment of the franchise raised alarm for a scene in which the player goes undercover with a terrorist group while it conducts a massacre in an airport.

Mr Vaz's campaign against such video games is a long-running one. The Labour MP has argued on numerous occasions that they encourage violence in real life. One previous motion encouraged children to spend more time outside.

Mr Watson's choice of video games is well known in Westminster circles, not least because he often tweets his current pick.

On the evening before his recent interrogation of James Murdoch on the media committee, the phone-hacking campaigner tweeted: "I've got a massive day tomorrow. Should be preparing questions but can't break away from Portal 2 on the Xbox."

The next morning he confessed to a "late, late night" playing the game followed by an "early, early morning" preparing questions.