Appearing before the Scottish Affairs Committee, examining the subject of tax breaks for the games industry, Labour MP Ian Davidson remarked that Mr Vaizey “…ought to be concerned about the general coarsening of cultural life that is symbolised by the videogames.”
Mr Vaizey replied:
“One of my regrets about the industry has been that the only time it has featured in Parliament is when individual members of Parliament have wanted to use it as an example to pick on violent videogames.
“These seem to be the only way that some politicians think that you can get headlines for the videogames industry when, in fact, what this inquiry will show is that you have got a fantastically successful industry with a huge range of applications.”
“There is a ratings system for videogames. They are subject to the same kind of controls that film is. So why is it that in terms of our cultural climate we tend to celebrate the success of British film? We stay up for the BAFTAs; we stay up for the Oscars; we love looking at pictures of our film stars in the newspapers and celebrate in their success.
“Yet, we seem again and again only able to come back to the violent nature of videogames… What I object to is that we don’t… say, ‘The film industry is coarsening our children.’ We say, ‘That was a violent film and I certainly want to make sure my kids don’t see it.’
“You can certainly take that attitude about the videogames industry. You can say, ‘That is a violent videogame and I don’t want my children to play it.’ But you shouldn’t say, “That is a violent videogame and the videogames industry is coarsening our children.'”
Which would appear, on the surface at least, to be a positive statement from the Minister responsible for the games sector as a whole. Changing the ‘games are evil’ and ‘games are for children’ attitude which appears to have become almost institutionalised in Westminster over the last several years must surely be a key goal before the games business can actually be treated seriously and on an equal footing with other forms of media such as television and film-making.
But not music. That’s violent and evil*