Keith Vaz: The Minister will be aware that at midnight a new and violent video game, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare”, is to be released. It contains scenes of such brutality that even the manufacturers have put warnings in the game telling people how they can skip particular scenes. Given the recommendations of the Byron review, specifically paragraphs 32 and 33, what steps do the Government propose to take to ensure that such violent games do not fall into the hands of children and young people? This is not about censorship—it is about protecting our children.
Mr. Simon: The clearest recommendation of the Byron review is that content suitable for adults should be labelled and sold as such, and that it should be an offence to sell such content to children. That is the case under current law and it will be the case when the law changes under the digital economy Bill. The game to which my right hon. Friend refers is certificate 18 and should not be sold to children. The Government’s job is to ensure that what adults should be able to get is clearly labelled, and that children are not in danger of being subjected to adult content.
Mr. Tom Watson (West Bromwich, East) (Lab): I have seen the content of the video game. It is unpleasant, although no worse than in many films and books. The game carries a content warning. It is an 18-plus game, and carries the British Board of Film Classification 18-plus rating as well. Does the Minister agree that it would be better for Members of the House to support the many thousands of game designers and coders, and the many millions of game users, rather than collaborating with the Daily Mail to create moral panic over the use of video games?
Mr. Simon: I was in Dundee last week visiting the video games industry, and I certainly agree that it is a large and important industry in which we have a national competitive advantage. It is important that all Members of the House and the Government continue to support it.
A curt rebuttal to Mr Vaz's Commons raised concerns over the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Complete transcript available here.