According to a handful of his associates in Parliament, anti-game MP Keith Vaz has softened his often bristling views on the videogame industry.
In his role as MP, Vaz has called for cigarette-style warnings to be affixed to videogames, condemned the violence in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, called for a ban of RapeLay, expressed outrage over the home-made game Kaboom: The Suicide Bombing Game and even alienated other anti-violent game crusaders.
At an ELSPA-hosted political Q&A centered on the game industry, not one, but three of Vaz’s fellow MPs weighed in on the changes Vaz has made to-date.
Over the last 12 months his views have shifted quite significantly. Partly because he read what Tanya Byron had to say, partly because the industry had engaged with him and wouldn’t let him get away with factually inaccurate comments, and partly because he is getting kicked to death in the tearoom when the cameras aren’t there.
A while back Keith brought up the issue of the Japanese game that allowed you to play as a suicide bomber. I knew he was going to bring it up in advance, so I contacted the industry to understand the situation. And I managed to intervene on Keith to let him know it was just a rogue operation, a game made in someone’s bedroom – just like anyone can make an unpleasant film in his or her rooms.
When Keith made his comments about the suicide bomber game, he began by saying ‘I would like to make it clear I think the video games industry is doing a lot of good work.’ And I was delighted to be the one that followed him to speak next, because it was the first time I had heard him say something like that.
GP: In a bid to encourage Vaz's transition further, we actually selected a semi-flattering picture of the MP for once.