Taking Video Games Seriously

Monday 25th January, Grand Committee Room, Westminster Hall, 6.30-8.00pm

How should we think about the world’s fastest-growing and most lucrative entertainment medium?

I am chairing a discussion on the place of video games and virtual worlds in modern society – the lessons we might learn from them, their dangers, and why the public debate needs to move beyond breathless accusations about violent, screen-addicted young people. Joining me for the discussion will be:

Tom Chatfield, senior editor at Prospect magazine, and author of Fun Inc, a major new book on the social importance of video games, published by Virgin Books on 14th January.

Philip Oliver, CEO of Blitz Games, one of Britain’s largest independent games developers, and one of its most radical in pursuing the serious and innovative uses of games. With his brother, Philip is one of the founding fathers of the British games industry.

Sam Leith is a cultural critic and author, and columnist for The Guardian, The Evening Standard and Prospect. A previous books editor at the Daily Telegraph, he has a particular interest in popular culture and emerging technologies, and writes regularly on video games.

If you would like to attend the event, please let Claire Pilsbury know in my London office on 020 7219 8335 or by emailing pilsburyc@parliament.uk

I hope to see you on Monday 25th January in the Grand Committee Room from 6.30pm for what promises to be a lively discussion.


#1 Robert on 01.18.10 at 5:33 pm

Tom, I would love to attend but sadly cannot. May we trust that you will blog the key points, or maybe even an audio podcast?

The story in the Times today, that video game music composers will have their own Novello Award must surely be fodder for the discussion:

#2 aion database on 01.18.10 at 6:47 pm

I totally agree that video games SHOULD be taken seriously. They have been a bad stereotype in the eyes of most parents because of their negative effects. But I think parental control is what the children need for them to fully enjoy the benefits of these video games.

#3 Rachel on 01.19.10 at 6:30 pm

If there’s power and a connection, I’m happy to live blog this event if that is possible?

#4 Tom on 01.19.10 at 10:26 pm

That’s remarkably kind. There’s likely to be power but not, I think, wifi.

#5 Nicholas Lovell on 01.19.10 at 10:32 pm

I fear that I will be unable to attend, although I enjoyed Tom’s RSA event on Fun,Inc. But I’m a big supporter of bringing games into mainstream acceptance and would love to be kept informed in the future.

#6 Taking Video Games Seriously | From Dawn till Dusk - Games and life on 01.19.10 at 11:08 pm

[…] Leith.  The title of this blog post is taken from the discussion title and more can be found out here.  I’m looking forward to the discussion as  I really believe that we need to look at this […]

#7 Rachel on 01.20.10 at 8:02 am

Then i’ll take live notes and post later, so I can get a transcript.

#8 Jason Hall on 01.20.10 at 11:12 am

Would love to attend but will be in Manchester that day so unlikely to make it, I’m afraid. But please do keep me updated with any outcomes or follow-ups. Lots going on in WM at the moment on the games front, as you know.

#9 Richard on 01.20.10 at 1:58 pm

Could try a 3G/mobile internet dongle for laptop Rachel if you can find anyone you know with one? 🙂 I’d bring one along only I think it’s unlikely it’d be delivered to me on time (not sure where to get one on the high street still kinda obscure).

#10 Daniel Nye Griffiths on 01.20.10 at 5:34 pm

At the risk of appearing obtuse, have you tried Vodafone, or literally any other mobile phone provider with a high-street presence? A USB 3G modem with 1GB of data transfer will generally set you back about £35. I may be missing something her, but that seems to be what you mean…

#11 Richard on 01.20.10 at 9:58 pm

Ah right cool, thanks. I haven’t looked for one specifically myself for a while so must be out of date. 🙂

Actually thinking about it some phones with 3G probably also let you plug in if you have a cable to use the phone itself as a modem for your laptop too, without needing to buy anything extra, I used to do that a lot back in GPRS days.

#12 Rachel on 01.20.10 at 11:28 pm

I’ve been looking at dongles, seeing if there is a cost effective way to use them as a one off and there isn’t. I still may get one, but unlikely unless I can plan when to use it again!

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[…] of you hoping to attend the free event should let Watson’s office know in advance and can find more information on the politician’s […]

#15 Richard on 01.21.10 at 8:37 pm

If you have a PC to phone cable or your laptop has bluetooth, try see if your phone’s PC software has a “use phone as modem” mode

If not I’ll try find one and bring it along, it’s a good thing to have when you are away from home I know that.

#16 Nick on 01.22.10 at 9:46 pm

Great that this debate is going on

My name is Nick and I’m from a young charity called SpecialEffect dedicated to help people with disabilities play computer games. Amongst our work is creating the first fully accessible computer games suite for a local hospice and award winning computer games roadshows for disabled young people. We have also launced a new pilot site for disabled gamers.

Please do check out the short video below featuring BBC Radio One’s Johnny Minkley playing a computer games with his eyes against our inspirational patron Matt Hampson who was paralysed whilst play rugby for England Under 21’s. We’ve been lucky enough to have recieved support from industry charity GamesAid to fund a series of roadshows for disabled young people to play computer games with our expert support. The joy and fun derived from games is there for all to see.

This and the short clip below featuring a young girl with a disability playing a game for the first time show the enjoyment and fun that people with disabilties get from computer games.



#17 Dr. Mike Reddy on 01.23.10 at 3:57 pm

Bless you Tom. For having the foresight to see Games as a new artistic medium, and recognising the need for its birth to have plenty of midwives.

#18 Chris O'Regan on 01.24.10 at 5:59 pm

I will most certainly be there. Although you have to wonder why we have to resort to such language to justify the existence of a form of entertainment…

#19 Corinna Jones on 01.25.10 at 7:01 pm

I teach in a boys comprehensive school in London and would love to attend this evening but am afraid I am unable to do so. I know that there are lots of great games out there which are educational, fun etc etc. However, I think it is right to be concerned about the dangers of some of the more popular violent games – our boys spend hours and hours on them. Though something like Grand Theft Auto is 18 rated, in reality it is one of the most popular games amongst young impressionable boys at our school. You would be very naive to believe that this has no effect at all.

#20 Michelle on 01.26.10 at 9:32 am

Ooh, wish I’d been there, sounded interesting. Did anyone blog from the event?

#21 Michelle on 01.26.10 at 9:33 am

Darn, just came across this, sounded interesting. Did anyone blog / make notes?

#22 Rachel on 01.26.10 at 1:27 pm

My liveblogged notes from last night


#23 We don’t tell stories… « SUPERfluity on 01.27.10 at 6:54 pm

[…] January 27, 2010 in Games, Interaction | Tags: BioShock, clever, entertaining, gaming, media, narrative, Zelda On Monday night I went along to a public discussion panel in Westminster Hall entitled “Taking Video Games Seriously“. […]

#24 Taking Games Seriously « The Naked Pheasant on 03.03.10 at 3:10 pm

[…] a really interesting session in the hallowed halls of Westminster. Hosted by Tom Watson MP, Taking Games Seriously sought to prompt a discussion “on the place of video games and virtual worlds in modern society […]

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