It’s a development so stunning that nobody could have seen it coming – Labour MP Keith Vaz is quite worried about the impact of violent video games (so, he’s okay with “Myst” and “Ilomilo” then?).
This time around, he’s concerned about the impact of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” and in particular the levels set in London, as they echo the events of 7 July 2005 (my word, it’s almost as though Infinity Ward are drawing from real life or something).
In a story picked up by Eurogamer, Vaz cites evidence of “an increasing link” between the content of violent video games and a subsequent effect on games players and wants the British Board of Film Classification to more carefully consider their certification decisions before allowing games like “MW3” into the wild.
A couple of points, if I may.
If anybody was going to be negatively impacted by the impact of a prolonged exposure to depictions of violence in media, one could reasonably expect that the BBFC are amongst the first people who are going to have problems. Why is it that censors and politicians remain utterly unaffected by their exposure to the likes of “MW3” (rated 18) and “The Human Centipede” (rated 18 after a lot of cuts) and can be trusted to walk the streets, whereas the likes of you and me are going to become gibbering, perverse serial criminals if we so much as look at the options screen on a first person shooter?
How, pray tell, does that distinction come to pass?
It stands to reason that there isn’t a direct causal link between what people do in video games, enjoy watching in films or find compelling in novels because the crime statistics don’t for one minute back up Vaz’s current assertions or any of the previous quote-friendly politicians or interest groups who have sought to further restrict our access to aspects of popular culture that they don’t agree with.
If everybody in the UK directly exposed to “MW3” were driven to commit acts of violence due to exposure to the game, our under-staffed and over-stretched polices forces up and down the land might reasonably expect to keep a couple of million people under surveillance after the annual release of a “Call of Duty” title.
In a stunning development, the Police force don’t appear to be tagging and tracing anybody with a PS3 and a yearning to play Team Deathmatch online. Curiouser and curiouser.
A politician like Vaz is, let’s face facts, somebody who loves to align themselves to issues like this – his public profile exists largely because he complains about the negative effects of pop culture on the young and he and his ilk desperately needs the oxygen of publicity to be invited on TV news shows and to be interviewed by newspapers. It might be argued that his press releases are the IRL equivalent of forum trolling and every bit as insubstantial in their ultimate impact.
The big ugly secret that most gamers are somehow privy to and which the media, concerned parents and outraged parents are somehow not aware of is that kids have to get the likes of “Modern Warfare 3” or “Saints Row The Third” from somewhere, if they are indeed playing them.
Most kids, last time that I checked, don’t have regular paying work which allows them to drop £44.99 on a console title each week. Most kids don’t have credit or debit cards either, so that precludes them ordering from Amazon or Play.com. Assuming that little Dane and Jade are refraining from using Teh L33t Torrentz to get their gaming fix on, that logically tells us that parents may be the evil Nazi scum pushing computer game filth to their offspring.
News flash – some parents play games, too, Keith. They may make a decision that their kids are mature enough to handle the content in a video game. They may be crappy parents, but the buck stops with them. If they care as much as they claim to do about their kids, they can lock out consoles and place age bars on content that they feel is unsuitable for their offspring. The tools are there – the kind of people who complain loudly in public about violence in video games are the kind of lazy, responsibility-shirking dullards who have no business having children in the first place.
An age rating is there for a reason – it’s about time that parents actually started parenting and using the tools, warning systems and content advisories that have been put in place because of their incessant bitching and whining.