Is UK Game Biz Over-reacting to "Early Death" Ad Campaign?

March 11, 2009 -

Outrage would be a mild way to describe the British video game industry's reaction to that now-infamous print ad which appears to suggest that playing video games may lead to an early death.

The gaming press has also been largely critical of the ads. But Rob Hearn at UK site PocketGamer takes a much different view:

To begin with, the ad does not call video game publishers 'child killers', or anything like it, and the suggestion that it does is bordering on neurotic...


The ad implies... that playing a lot of video games instead of running around in fields can reduce life expectancy, but that's true...

Of course, video games are no more responsible for obesity than they are for violent episodes. That responsibility falls firmly in the lap of the individual and his guardians...

 

[Given all of the unfair criticism of games, it's] no wonder the video game community feels embattled and defensive. But that's no excuse for fuzzy logic or myopia. Just because the public is neurotic, there's no reason why we should be.

It's not a contradiction to love video games and to believe they can be played to the detriment of the player. To discourage a group of impartial charitable institutions from making this point does no favours to the industry's hard won credibility.


Comments

Re: Is UK Game Biz Over-reacting to "Early Death" Ad ...

This MCV report suggests that the games industry has been singled out because they haven't donated any money to the campaign...

Re: Is UK Game Biz Over-reacting to "Early Death" Ad ...

That is an interesting read, whilst I disagree with the editorial that MCV took over the report and does raise interesting points.

Conspiracy theorists will no doubt say that the games industry has been directly targeted (again it is "just do nothing" instead of "just play games", so I disagree that games are being directly targeted rather it shows one aspect of a lazy lifestyle, whilst criticising fat inside people's bodies) because it hasn't donated, but they were not asked to donate, so it's not as though they refused to donate, so it's not blackmail. Other theorists will say that that all the industries that donated are anti-games.

What is likely to have happened here is that they wanted a advert (part of a much larger campaign, let's not forget) with an image of a lazy activity. As TV companies donate, they would have been against showing a kid watching TV, as snacks firms were involved they would have been against showing snack foods (there is an advert with a non-descript cake as that can't be referenced directly back to one of the donors), so the only lazy activity they were left with was gaming. But again there is no direct attack on gaming (which many people are assuming). No doubt if the games industry had donated this advert wouldn't have existed (but again they weren't asked to donate).

What it does show is why there hasn't been any reference to any sort of activities in the campaigns, they don't state TV watching, snack eating causing obesity (although they don't explicitly state games either) and this is due to the donations. So the credibility of the campaign is seriously damaged if the industries which are part of the problem have their say in the campaign.

Re: Is UK Game Biz Over-reacting to "Early Death" Ad ...

I'm sorry, but the average person does not take the time to read the fine print in an ad. They see a very quick and simple connection between the picture and the bold text. If all the text were the same size, I'd say that the game industry might be over reacting.... very slightly.

Its like misleading headlines to news articles. You read the headline (an Early Death) and you see the picture (young videogamer) and you already have a conclusion. Most people will stop reading and fill in the blanks themselves.

I have no problem with the message they're trying to get across. Its the method that everyone is complaining about.

 

I hate broccoli/ and think it totally sucks/ Why isn't it meat?

I hate broccoli/ and think it totally sucks/ Why isn't it meat?

Re: Is UK Game Biz Over-reacting to "Early Death" Ad Campaign?

Someone photoshop a book into the kid's hands and lets see the reaction to that! 

Re: Is UK Game Biz Over-reacting to "Early Death" Ad Campaign?

They would not even react if you didn't use a playstation controller in the ad Britan.

 

http://www.magicinkgaming.com/

Re: Is UK Game Biz Over-reacting to "Early Death" Ad ...

I'm inclined to say it's not an over reaction. The ad isn't really OTT, but it does present a couch-potato stereotype that's hardly going to be good for business.

While not offensive, the constant drip-drip of media portraying gaming in a negative light can only harm the industry. If gaming wasn't constantly presented as "bad", then there really wouldn't be anything to object to, but as that isn't the case... Well someone has to say "wait a minute".

Gift.

Re: Is UK Game Biz Over-reacting to "Early Death" Ad Campaign?

I said it before, I say it again. There's a justified concern that not only gamers will see such a negative meaning in the ad, but many other people as well. This poses a potential harm to the video game industry due to overreacting people that are responding on a wrong concept.

If they don't mean for the ad to be taken in that way, they should have made it in such a way that interpretation is extremely unlikely, instead of reasonably likely.

For the explanation on why it's likely, I'm going to not repeat myself but refer to EZK who explains it better than I can.

Re: Is UK Game Biz Over-reacting to "Early Death" Ad ...

are they overreacting?

NO.

lets face it the games industry needs to grow a pair. They rarely even REACT let alone OVER-react. As far as i can see it perhaps this is the straw that broke the camels back.

Here in the UK the government treats the game industry like crap. A bunch of pompous overpaid fatcats sat around talking absolutely untrue, unfounded, unresearched, biased crap about 'games' their 'evils' and ignoring the fact that the games industry now brings in more than the uk games industry.

The uk government gives mounds of cash to the film industry, a recent  TIGA article claimed that the games industry could see MASSIVE benefits with just a THIRD of that. Yet still, after delaying even discussing the issue of tax breaks  for developers for 2 years( by claiming they would make the WTO stop OTHER countries giving THEIR developers tax breaks - which as you guessed, was laughed at).

The games industry REPEATEDLY gets dumped on.

The fact that the government is happy to on one hadn, take the huge tax revenue the uk games industry generates, whilst with the other , publishing trashy campaigns like this, is evidence of that.

I graduate in about 8 weeks as a fully qualified programmer (speciailising in game programming ) and y'know what.... in a few years i hope to be OUT of the UK. I cant STAND the attitude to games and programming (hell, you even admit liking technology your a 'geek' or a 'nerd' here) . its BS. No wonder all the talent is going elsewhere.

 

The ad implies... that playing a lot of video games instead of running around in fields can reduce life expectancy, but that's true...

It does? where is the implication of 'running around in fields'? I dont see it implied anywhere. In fact i dont even see a discussion of 'healthy lifestyle'. I just see a scare poster saying scary negative things, and then plonking a picture of a gamer next to it. Sorry... but that ISNT responsible. Like others have said.. replace that controller with a book, y'think nobody would complain about that?

Re: Is UK Game Biz Over-reacting to "Early Death" Ad ...

Yeah, but, see...  Reading is wholesome and good.  Gaming is deranged and subversive.  So, of course there should be a double standard.

</sarcasm>  <-- in case anybody's detector is broken

Re: Is UK Game Biz Over-reacting to "Early Death" Ad ...

Mine was okay until you overloaded it.

Re: Is UK Game Biz Over-reacting to "Early Death" Ad Campaign?

Completely agree with Rob Hearn. People are deciding for themselves what the advert says and are throwing in their own perceptions of gaming into the advert.

Re: Is UK Game Biz Over-reacting to "Early Death" Ad ...

If games aren't the only thing that can lead to early death, then why single them out? The ad is simply wrong in even including games in the picture, implying that gamers are inactive and lethargic. If people are going to draw their own conclusions from this, all the more reason for us to "overreact."

Re: Is UK Game Biz Over-reacting to "Early Death" Ad ...

They are not being singled out. I don't know how many times this has to be explained, but it is part of a much wider campaign, there is a similar advert with a kid with a cake. Even talking about the advert in this manner is taking it out of context, because it is being singled out.

The Campaign4life is a wide campaign and people will be aware of many of the adverts once the campaign goes into full operation. This advert is part of a series of adverts. Articles on webpages such as this single the one advert out and make it appear that there is an anti-game campaign from the Government, which simply isn't true.

The overreaction from the games industry has meant that this advert has become shown worldwide, instead of it just being shown in the UK in its full context (as part of a larger campaign). You would have thought the industry would've learnt lessons that they are giving this advert attention. No one knew of Rapelay until a newspaper article started to moan about and the politicians picked it. No one (or only a few people) knew of this advert before the companies started to moan about and as such this image has been shown the world over, and the games companies have only got themselves to blame for helping to spread this advert.

Re: Is UK Game Biz Over-reacting to "Early Death" Ad ...

I don't think this is the same thing as people complaining about games.

This is an advert that is intended for wide spread use thorughout the UK. It was meant to be seen by the majority of people in the country.

What the games industry is doing is critiqueing it and trying to get the majority of people to see it for what it is, that is an attack on games.

You say it is part of a larger campaign. Do you have links to the other posters? People have said that other adverts in the campaign include a kid eating cake. I find that acceptable as the advert talks about not feeding your kids fatty foods. It is well known that cake is a fatty food.

But I also find the campaign unacceptable from all standpoints. The ad itself leads noone to believe that one can still eat cake and play games and still be healthy. It speaks nothing of moderation. It implies that one cannot play games or eat cake and still be healthy.

Personally, I hate negative imagery. I perfer the healthy habits ads that use kids playing outdoors to promote an active lifestyle. I prefer pictures of kids eating vegetables when promoting a healthy diet. Negative imagery is primarily used for scare mongering. And that to me is unacceptable in a campaign paid for with public funds.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: Is UK Game Biz Over-reacting to "Early Death" Ad ...

Here is the text of the ad:

Risk an Early Death, Do Nothing.

9 out of 10 kids risk growing up to have unhelthy amounts of fat in their bodies. Even if you think they look healthy today, adulthood could bring an early death from heart disease, Type 2 diabetes or cancer.

So make sure your kids are active for an hour a day. Reduce the amount of fat they eat. for help and advice visit 4yourkids.org.uk

While the text itself does nothing to say that gaming is evil or causes an early death, it does not say anything that would lead one to believethat gaming can exist in a healthy lifestyle either. Further, if one were to simply pass by this with only enough time to glance at it, the two things that will jump out are the pictue of the kid with the controller and the word death. Human process pictures faster than words. That has been shown. We see the pictures in ads before anything else. The word death is a different color than the rest of the headline and thus stands out more. So to someone who only glances at the ad will cwalk away with the feeling "gaming=death"

So no, I don't think the games industry is over-reacting.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: Is UK Game Biz Over-reacting to "Early Death" Ad ...

3 letters.

 QFT

 
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