The Average Gamer

Gamers in Parliament. Sort Of.

Last Wednesday saw a new first in the world of politics – advocacy group Gamers’ Voice set up a gaming room in the House of Commons and invited our right honourable members of parliament to attend. 16 showed up including Keith Vaz, a surprise to a many people given his historical anti-games stance.

GamerOverCast editor Mike Barton interviews Keith Vaz MP

What was the point? To show MPs that games are an important part of the British economy, that games aren’t the mighty bastions of evil that one might think and to (hopefully) prove that gamers are not all sociopaths. We can hold semi-intelligent conversations. We bathe. Svend from Spong wore a clean shirt with buttons and everything. Gamers’ Voice set up a Wii, a Kinect and a Move station around the room, put on a bunch of games and pretty much let us get on with it. Politicians turned up. If they showed the slightest interest in a game, there were many journalists and gamers ready to help them out.

We had the happy games early in the evening; ones like Portal, Sports Champions and Kinect Sports. World of Goo was a particularly nice touch; it’s cute, it’s simple and it’s obviously educational. Of course, I had to have the controls explained to me by a charming young games journo but hey, that’s what’s awesome about RL gaming culture. Despite our predilection to blow things sky high and trash-talk each other, we’re eternal optimists at heart who love to lend a hand and honestly believe we can change the world. Other games were showcased, including Heavy Rain (artistic but not exactly accessible), Street Fighter 4, Vanquish, Flower, Motorstorm: Pacific Rift, Hydroadventure, Dead Space: Extraction and Plants vs Zombies.

Luciana Berger MP - She's rubbish at Sports Champions Archery. To be fair, so were we all at first.

Gamers’ Voice are a non-profit organisation set up to ensure that our collective gaming voice is heard in politics and the mainstream media. Happily, it’s not a bunch of self-appointed windbags who love the sounds of their own voices – the group is open to all gamers and run by selfless volunteers like Chris O’Regan . Hop on over to the Gamers’ Voice Facebook page and check out the official website for info on how to get involved. You could also support them through the limited edition fundraising t-shirt from Insert Coin. (men’s version. ladies‘ version)

Other takes on the event:
MPs show support for gaming
Gamers’ Voice holds successful Parliamentary Games Day

All in all, it’s sad that only 16 of the 650 members of Parliament stopped by and quite a few of those are already known to be supportive of gaming. Still, as Ian Livingstone said in his speech, the fact that we were allowed to set up in the building at all was a step forward for games. For the curious, here are the other MPs in attendance.

John Whittingdale (Cons)
Ed Vaizey, (Cons) Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Culture, Communications and Creative Industries)
Luciana Berger (Lab)
Clive Betts (Lab)
David Davies (Cons)
Don Foster (Lib Dem)
Dr Julian Huppert (Lib Dem)
Stephen Timms (Lab)
Karen Lumley (Cons)
Jason McCartney (Cons)
Nigel Mills (Cons)
Stephen Mosley (Cons)
Alun Cairns (Cons)
Simon Kirby (Cons)
David Hanson (Lib Dem)