March 02, 2006

Computer and console games being debated in the government again

Whilst I was surfiing They Work For (a site, incedentally, that more people should visit) I happened upon the following debate:

Keith Vaz, the Labour MP for Leicester East, putting a question to MPs regarding computer games. Specifically, that:

"That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Video Recordings Act 1984 to extend certain provisions of that Act to video games and to make provision about the labelling of video games..."

It's a very interesting read and whilst I doubt he has actual experience of the games he cites, he does make a sound case and, through his speech, shows that he is representing the concerns of some of his constituatiants. I don't take issue with the idea that games should be more clearly labelled and maybe ruled by the same laws as videos and DVDs but I do take issue with the following sentence which appears about a quarter of the way through his speech:

"The Bill is not intended to censor the industry. However, we must recognise that it is our duty to protect our children from inappropriate influences such as violent video games."

I am assuming by Mr Vaz's use of the phrase 'our duty' he means the duty of government to protect our children from inappropriate influences. Whilst I agree to a point (bad men/women should be locked up etc) I feel that when the issue is one of how a child spends his lesuire time, then that is most squarely in the domain of parents. By all means provide a clear rating system for games so that parents can have an idea of what they are buying; and extending the system used for DVDs seems logical as parents are familiar with that. But I don't feel the government should take full responsibility for this issue. It needs to be made clear to parents that if their child is doing something that is considered 'wrong' then it is largly their responsibility.

However, this argument can then descend into the argument of "Where do you draw the line between government responsibility and parental responsibility?" And that's a messy argument. So I'm going to stop there.