Controversial British MP Keith Vaz has launched a new campaign to curb the sale of violent video games, calling for larger labeling on the covers of games to show age restrictions and the reasons for them.
Vaz is once again championing the case of Giselle Pakeerah
, whose 14 year old son was killed by a hammer wielding 17 year old in February 2004. Early tabloid reports of the story suggested that the murderer was “obsessed” by Rockstar’s Manhunt
, although police later repudiated this, pointing out that only the victim owned a copy of the 18-rated game. Despite this some British stores withdrew the game from sale at the time.
Ms Pakeerah and Vaz have met with Prime Minister Tony Blair concerning the issue, and Vaz is to submit a new bill to Parliament during a ten minute speech, but it is thought to have little chance of becoming law. The Prime Minister’s only comment on the situation has been to indicate that the Government has commissioned research on the issue which it will publish and debate when completed.
Vaz’s demand for larger labeling is peculiar given that age rating symbols have recently been increased for titles (usually violent ones) rated by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification). All games also indicate exactly the content contained within them according to the European PEGI ratings system.
Despite this, Vaz suggests that: “This Bill is aimed at restoring public confidence, especially in parents of young people. The current provisions are inadequate and need to be updated. I am looking forward to presenting this Bill to Parliament because its provisions will ensure that we are doing all we can to avoid another tragic loss, such as that of Stefan Pakeerah."
The Former Minister of Europe (before he we was forced to resign after being implicated in a scandal involving citizenship applications for two prominent Indian businessmen), Vaz has been the most prominent political critic of the video games industry in Britain. He continues to be dogged though by allegations of ballot rigging and dirty tricks in his Leicester East constituency in the English Midlands, which have so far prevented him from achieving new promotions within the Government.