For decades video games have been blamed for sub-par graduation rates, the increase in reported A.D.D. cases, as well as the general degradation of society – by a lot of out-of-touch lawmakers. Despite how you feel about the ongoing Battlefield 3 vs. Modern Warfare 3 fanboy war, there’s little debate that the Call of Duty franchise is the world’s current “video games are the bane of the world” whipping post – at least until, Grand Theft Auto 5 releases.
As a result, it’s no surprise that as Modern Warfare 3 became the biggest entertainment launch in history, elected officials couldn’t help but sling mud at the video game industry – this time blaming Activision for capitalizing on the July 7, 2005 bombings in London.
According to Keith Vaz, a Member of Parliament (MP) representing the Labour party in Leicester East (a borough constituency in the center of England), the London underground bombing depicted in Modern Warfare 3 bares a too-similar resemblance to the actual subway bombings in 2005. As a result, Vaz (who has previously campaigned against the video game industry) is calling for the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) to place tighter restrictions on ratings classifications – and, subsequently, game sales.
Here’s Vaz’s full statement before the House of Commons:
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.
West Bromwich East Labour MP, Tom Watson (who has campaigned in favor of the games industry) added an amendment to Vaz’s EDM (Early Day Motion), stating that, essentially, the ratings board had already reviewed the content and found that the events depicted in the game were entirely fictional and didn’t recreate an actual event.
Here’s Watson’s full statement before the House of Commons:
“leave out from `House’ to end and add `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.’.”
In their original report, CVG points out that EDM’s are, often, merely an opportunity for a certain Member of Parliament to engage in political posturing, assert their position on a given topic, or gauge support on a potential issue – and, as a result, aren’t necessarily actually debated in the House of Commons. To that end, it’s easy to chock this one up to little more than Vaz attempting to call attention to himself and ride on the extremely successful coattails of Modern Warfare 3 – while essentially stabbing the game in the back.
That said, there’s no doubt that public opinion of the games industry takes a hit when any official drudges up these connections – and it’s unfortunate that, even with more and more people rediscovering video games, players still have to see the developers and games they love picked apart by outsiders.
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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is available now on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.