Politicians Split Over Modern Warfare 3

A group of British politicians have criticized Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. But one of their counterparts has dissented in a particularly unusual manner.

The nine members of Parliament have signed an early day motion. In theory this is a proposal for the House of Commons to debate and vote upon the motion at the next available moment. In practice such motions are virtually never brought before the House, and instead act almost like a petition by politicians.

The motion reads:

That this House is deeply concerned about the recently released video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, in which players engage in gratuitous acts of violence against members of the public; notes in particular the harrowing scenes in which a London Underground train is bombed by terrorists, bearing a remarkable resemblance to the tragic events of 7 July 2005; further notes that there is increasing evidence of a link between perpetrators of violent crime and violent video games users; and calls on the British Board of Film Classification to take further precautions when allowing a game to be sold.

However, Tom Watson, an MP who has a particular interest in technology issues and is one of the few self-confessed gamers in British politics, responded by proposing an amendment that not only takes issue with the points made by the original motion, but even offers a mini-review of the game. He suggests the motion should instead read:

[that this House] notes that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) gave the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 an 18 classification, noting that `the game neither draws upon nor resembles real terrorist attacks on the underground’; further believes that the game has an excellent user interface and challenges the gamers’ dexterity as well as collaborative skills in an outline setting; and 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.

Sadly there’s no sign yet that this will be one of the rare early day motions to lead to a debate and thus we will likely be cheated of the sight of elected representatives debating the quality of MW3’s user interface.

8 Responses to Politicians Split Over Modern Warfare 3

  1. Dontcha love it when politicians don't do their homework? Some members of Parliament have criticized the game because they say it depicts a bombing in the London Underground that's eerily reminiscent of the bombing on 7.7.05. It sounds like a valid concern; as an American, I'd certainly have qualms about playing game that depicts two planes crashing into two tall buildings.

    Thing is, there's no bombing in the London Underground. There's a runaway train that was hijacked by some terrorists looking for a fast way to get to Westminster Station while running from you and your buddies in the game, but that's it. No connection whatsoever to the bombing 6 years ago. As one of the characters in the game (Sgt. Wallcroft) says, "They were using it for transport."

    That's like saying a depiction of the terrorists who took over the Statue of Liberty in the Spider-man 2 game is the same thing as 9.11. because it happened in the same city. Ridiculous anti-gamer sentiment by people who want to regulate something they don't understand.

  2. Politicians need to stop treating all gamers as children. The point of video games isn't just fun any more. Those in the government should try thinking of video games as pretending to be a character in a movie: you do things and the world shifts. Movies aren't always fun comedies, nor are they always horrific representations of reality. In fact, for video games to talk about the destruction of the civilized world is a little refreshing. It is horrible, I agree, but gaming is trying to grow up from many of its faults.

    I personally find it frustrating when people simultaneously condemn video games that tackle serious issues, as well as chide them for being childish. If you don't let them grow up, then you're only angering yourself.

  3. Tom Watson, I want to be your foot stool. I follow you more then I do american politicians, and as depressing as that may be, it gives me hope that not all of politics is full of shit.

  4. Cause and effect don't work that way. Playing violent video games doesn't make you violent just because violent people play violent video games.

  5. I wouldn't be too surprised if they'd taken a back-hander to make the game appear more controversial so it sells better, not that it needs it. Politicians are content to have young adults trained to be killers and send them abroad to "engage in gratuitous acts of violence against members of the public". Why would they fret over them playing violent video games at home?

    It's not games, protesters, heavy metal music, dole scroungers, immigrants or even Simon Cowell that's bringing this country down and spoiling people's lives, it's one single thing – astoundingly bad leadership. I expect these public servants to be working full time on our many real problems, not tutting over adult video games (when they're not too busy showering bankers with our money).

    I know how cynical that all sounds, but it's exactly how I feel. I deeply resent this self-serving, seemingly amoral old boy's club war mongers rummaging through our lives to see what other little avenues of pleasure they can declare bad and cut us off from – unless it's really profitable, in which case they might just hammer us with VAT like they have with tobacco. They could call it 'Tasteless War-game Added Tax'?

  6. As anyone who follows UK politics will know, this was tabled by MP Keith Vaz, who's pretty much tried to make game releases over here like Australia: if it's above a 15, it should be banned or heavily censored. As usual, Tom Watson reminds him it's an entertainment, not real, and utterly silly.

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