UK Game Biz Types Speak Out Against “Early Death” Ad

The British government’s recent Change4Life print ad, which visually links playing video games with an early demise, continues to draw ire from the games industry. Adding to official complaints lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority by MCV, Tiga, and ELSPA are scathing comments from a variety of industry types.
Codemasters CEO Rod Cousens:

Governments have a unique ability to get it wrong. Their track record to do so spans centuries.  As usual, they are out of touch, respond too late and their so called facts or intelligence is normally flawed. This is certainly so in this case.

Konami UK general manager Peter Stone:

Konami has long been at the forefront of active video games, with our Dance Dance Revolution series… we refute the accusations that gaming is a sedentary pastime, and feel such comments are damaging and do not reflect the wide range of activity-related titles that are both available and immensely popular.

James Binns, publishing director of Future (Official Nintendo, Xbox and PlayStation magazines):

Using a child with a joypad to illustrate Change4Life is crass and misleading. The negative associations with gaming could be long lasting. There is no arguing that the campaign’s underlying message about premature death is incredibly important – but the government would never risk the wrath of showing a child sitting still reading a book to illustrate their point.

Sega Europe president and COO Mike Hayes:

Television, radio, cinema, listening to music, computing, video gaming and of course, reading all require a high element of passive participation, but of all these media types it is video gaming that provides the most potential interaction and activity. It seems that an advertisement has been put together by a poorly informed advertising agency.

For its part, the Department of Health defended the ad:

We are not saying that children shouldn’t play computer games or eat treats, but parents and children need to be aware of the benefits of a balanced diet and an active lifestyle. The activities portrayed are examples of poor diet and lack of physical activity.

You can grab a hi-res version of the controversial Change4Life advertisement here.
Via: MCV
-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. Michael Chandra says:

    There’s a kid on a couch with a ps-like controller, positioned as if he’s playing. It doesn’t HAVE to mention games, that picture speaks a thousand words.

    On the other hand, Codemasters doesn’t seem to mention anything about sales and money. Yet you claim it helps to contribute to a greedy image, should I ask you why or just go ahead and say you appear paranoid?

  2. McDaddy says:

    Spot on, State. Only the most rabid conspiracy theorist or gamer martyr could view the ENTIRE CAMPAIGN and still insist the government’s intention was to libel gaming. It’s this type of whining overreaction that gives the industry and we devotees a bad name. And in this case, it’s given the British government worldwide exposure to an ad (and a cause) that otherwise would probably merit little notice outside the UK.

  3. DarkSaber says:

    As was pointed out earlier, the government has already told the games industry where they can shove their request for tax breaks.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  4. State says:

    Conspiracy Theory Alert! : The Government is anti-gaming and is trying dirty tactics to get games banned.

    This is just part of a much wider health campaign (one that addresses many of the points already made) and the advert doesn’t even mention games. Gamers really do appear paranoid.


    Regardless, how much publicity and attention would this advert have got if the games industry didn’t make such a big fuss over this? Probably little and it would have just been ignored. In fact (and in particular Codemasters’ comments) will no doubt do damage to the industry for appearing greedy and attempting to protect profits whatever the cost. The direct criticisms of the government are definitely not going to help in getting those tax breaks.

  5. JohnMidnight says:

    Hmmm… I was never over weight. My diet probably wasn’t the best, but I road a bike to and from school, and played games at the same time, and maintained 150 pounds no matter how much I ate O.o


    Granted now I’m rocked to 190, but for my age and hieght thats normal. I don’t get the same exercise anymore (I have a motorcycle instead of a bicycle) but I’ve been playing games since.

    Now. If the kids are in school, they damn well aught to be fine. IF THEY ARE OVERWEIGHT their bodies are digesting their foods differently, or they are eating a lot more than I did when I was in school which was two meals. Lunch, and Dinner.  Breakfast is for the weak! Their were a few over weight guys, but by the time I saw them again, they sure aren’t overweight now. One of them is still a active gamer to boot!

  6. TBoneTony says:

    Not really though

    I just typed what I really felt after all,

    The statement was really pathetic,

    Also my own statement will do no good if I tried to do it for real.


    Althogh I must say sorry for using the words pigs, but it is something I used out of allot of anger.


    Sorry about that.


  7. Wolvenmoon says:

    Wait a second…

    School is 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week here. Kids are fed at least one meal, with some of them fed two meals, and are supposedly taught the basic academia they need to get by in life.

    Proper nutrition and how to best exercise are VERY important lessons to learn. My question poised to any government planning to repeat this game : Why AREN’T the kids in your care 40 hours a week most of the year, fed two meals by you, and supposedly given P.E. or ‘physical education’ classes being taught how to properly exercise and how much they should eat, and of what, to be healthy?

    What they’re asking with this ad is why aren’t video games-the entertainment played from 1 to 20 hours a week by most functioning kids-teaching them how to live. What a stupid question!

    Get off your fat asses and use your damn public education system that you charge your taxpayers so much money for and laud to be good enough for any of your citizens to teach these kids these lessons.

    Just to reiterate…this PISSES ME OFF BECAUSE IT’S HAPPENING IN EVERY FIRST WORLD COUNTRY. We ALL have public education systems that we’re told are handling these basic facts, and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF OUR COUNTRIES HAS A GROWING CHILDHOOD OBEISITY PROBLEM!

    This one you can’t stick entirely on the parents when you take the kids, feed them two meals a day for five days a week, and claim to put them through P.E. and nutrition classes!

  8. TBoneTony says:

    Dear Department of Health

    you comment on


    We are not saying that children shouldn’t play computer games or eat treats, but parents and children need to be aware of the benefits of a balanced diet and an active lifestyle. The activities portrayed are examples of poor diet and lack of physical activity.


    I can say that your comments are deep and utter bull shit.

    You have singled out Videogames and also Eating fatty foods but yet to don’t even go after TV, Reading, Sitting down and watching sports, or even listening to music.

    You have singlied out Videogames and fatty foods as the problem and yet to still yet to even understand that with videogames they are more active than watching TV.

    You guys are nothing more than scaring parents for your own political points you worthless pigs.

    And you may think that my comments are harsh, but these adds that single out videogames as an early cause of death have cused the greatest emotional pain and distress for many good people who enjoy videogames.

    Your adds will now be worthless and nothing more than a piece of toilet paper


    Be carefull on who you attack in the future you health advertising pigs,

    Or else be prepared to be judged for your lies and decipt by many unforgiving parents who also love to play videogames, the same types of videogames that you are trying to label here as negative influences of causing death.


  9. Drazgal says:

    The current government have made it quite clear to us as to where they stand on tax breaks, up to and including telling one notable company boss to "move to canada then if you like their tax breaks" so there really isn’t anything to loose

  10. Kajex says:

    This isn’t going too far at all. They’re right- what’s being done here is misrepresentation of the facts. The same effects can be garnered with excessive T.V.-watching and reading, and both have been blasted just as much in the past. What’s being done here is another attempt to point the finger and say "THIS is what’s to blame for society’s ills today", without acknowledging what most see as the truth.

    So it’s either this…

    … Or say nothing, and let people believe the only thing they’ve heard, since nobody bothered to object to it.

  11. GusTav2 says:

    Much of this has been covered in other threads, but …

    It occurs to me that it may be dangerous for the industry to go too far with this. They have been campaigning for the UK Govt to give the industry tax breaks – maybe they should be careful how hard they push on this.

    Some of these comments are increasingly intemperate.

  12. sheppy says:

    I think it’s more to the point of the ad basically calling out games as child killers.  A UK government organization calls the gaming industry child killers and they aren’t supposed to get offended HOW?

    Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

  13. Larington says:

    The problem here isn’t that gaming is represented as a possible cause, its that its being represented as a possible cause on its own. Sure, excessive gaming is likely bad for your health, but this advert isn’t showing someone who is gaming excessively, hes just playing a game. Theres no indication of how long hes been playing it for, or what hes been eating/drinking whilst playing it.

    If in the image he was surrounded by loads of junk food, or the image was duplicated a few times with a clock showing how time is progressing and hes not seemingly taken a break, I suspect most industry types would grumble a bit about it but thats all – They certainly wouldn’t complain to the Advertising Standards Agency or consider legal action over the ad.

  14. Erasmus Darwin says:

    This is a great compilation of quotes.  While I’ve been critical of past instances of GP’s policy of creating a multitude of articles on a single subject (such as the "Brandon Crisp still missing" series and the personal biography of the guy who saw Obama ads on Xbox Live), I think it’s only fair to give a thumbs up when I think it’s deserved as well.  These quotes do a great job of underscoring the inappropriateness of C4L’s ad, especially Mr. Hayes’s quote.

  15. E. Zachary Knight says:

    We are not saying that children shouldn’t play computer games or eat treats, but parents and children need to be aware of the benefits of a balanced diet and an active lifestyle. The activities portrayed are examples of poor diet and lack of physical activity.

    Too bad the ad never actually states this. I have read the full size ad and there is nothing there about moderation of anything. So if moderation was the intent, you sure failed hard with your execution.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

Comments are closed.