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UK culture minister attacks videogames

Thinking woman's Alf Garnett

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gamesindustry.biz logo Culture minister Kim Howells has followed up his controversial comments last week on rap music by launching a broadside against film, television and videogames in the pages of the Independent newspaper.

Howells, who is a father of three, criticised the "heartlessness" of videogames, accusing them of creating a "pornography of violence" and of "playing to the lowest common denominator, which is a kind of vicarious pleasure in spilling blood".

"I look at the video games my kids play... and I see no humanity at all, nothing that tries to highlight and underpin the finer virtues that are in people and society", he told the newspaper. Film and television came in for criticism in the same terms, with Howells singling out cop drama Serious and Organised and cult flicks Pulp Fiction and Trainspotting.

The minister stopped short of accusing games of being directly responsible for violent behaviour, however. "I don't think a child is going to turn out to be a killer or more violent as a consequence of playing these games", he clarified. "But it's the acceptance of that heartlessness that is at the centre of all those kind of games, the kind of joy of shooting innocent bystanders or running them over in the car."

Although Howells was making more general comments about modern culture rather than a particularly targeted attack against videogames - and he claims not to be arguing for censorship - his words once again show a public figure attacking the entire industry on the grounds of a very small number of 18-rated releases which were never intended for children in the first place (as, er, the age rating might suggest), completely ignoring the vast number of perfectly innocent, and indeed educational, games which are targeted at young people.

Last week, Howells made headlines in the wake of the murders of two teenage girls by accusing rap music of making killing into a "fashion accessory". © gamesindustry.biz.

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