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UK MP Airs Violent Game Concerns Again

UK MP Airs Violent Game Concerns Again

July 6, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

July 6, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
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Is the climate for video games in the UK trending negative again? Just after a tax break in support of game developers was dropped from the UK budget, Labour MP Keith Vaz is again criticizing game violence, approaching Parliament to urge "further steps" in content regulation.

"Despite the 18 rating that the most violent video games carry, some children and teenagers are still able to acquire them, Vaz wrote, according to a report from UK trade paper MCV. In addition to praising the work of Mothers Against Violence in raising awareness about game violence, Vaz urged more government support for these initiatives.

His request for "further steps" was specifically made in reference to Pan-European Game Information, or PEGI, which last year was determined as the industry standard for ratings in Europe after some conflict with the British Board of Film Classification. PEGI followed up by unveiling new, more prominent age rating labels, using the red, yellow and green colors of traffic signals to better indicate age-appropriateness. Vaz did not specify what further measures he feels PEGI must take.

Earlier this year, psychologist Dr. Tanya Byron unveiled a comprehensive report for the UK government on child safety and gaming, concluding that "significant progress" has been made in ensuring the safety of young gamers in the UK.

Although the UK Conservative party currently holds power in the region, Labour MP Vaz was re-elected only recently. Leading up to the recent elections, both parties had expressed support for the game industry, promising to back it with tax breaks if elected. Following Dr. Byron's comprehensive report, efforts by trade body ELSPA appeared to have been gaining ground in helping reform negative public and legislative perception of video games in the UK, and fellow trade body TIGA campaigned actively for awareness of economic potential in the industry and incentives to nurture its growth.

But the tax breaks were scrapped from the budget late in June; the government cited wider economic stress, and ELSPA's Michael Rawlinson called it "cynical." Now Vaz, a longtime critic of the industry who was integral in the banning of Rockstar's Manhunt and Bully from the region's retail shelves, is returning to his position of opposition to game content.


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