UK Health Ad Sparks Video Game Biz Backlash

Earlier this year, the UK government’s Change4Life initiative irked some game industry types with a commercial that linked video game play with obesity and other health problems. This month, the campaign has launched print ads suggesting that video games lead to premature death.

The ads, which depict a young boy holding a Playstation controller under the headline RISK AN EARLY DEATH, JUST DO NOTHING, seems to be lighting a fire under the UK game industry.

MCV Associate Editor Tim Ingham has penned an impassioned editorial calling on the industry to speak out against the government’s ad:

Change4Life’s heart-in-mouth scapegoating of the video games industry is a troubling indictment of a hypocritical Government which flashes us grins when we generate £4 billion a year for its depleted coffers; but which then turns its back and explicitly tells parents that we’re KILLING THEIR CHILDREN.  …surely it’s the time for us to stand up as an industry and say: “That’s not fair”?

Let’s be very clear, because this gets sensitive: Sticking up for video games’ achievements in the face of shrieking propaganda does not show us up as a negligent supporter of obesity in kids.

It shows we’ve remembered where our bollocks are – at a time when the Government’s foot is wedged firmly between them.

For its part, MCV has submitted an official complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority saying the ad is “unrepresentative of the positive effect video games have on the UK’s youth.”

Meanwhile, Michael Rawlinson, director of ELSPA, told MCV that the UK game publishers’ trade association took an urgent meeting with the Department of Health regarding the ad.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen

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