UK game developer trade association Tiga has made a formal complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over a print ad for the UK government’s Campaign4Life.
The ad depicts a small child holding a PlayStation controller, beneath the words "Risk an early death. Just do nothing." The print ad is part of a wider television and online campaign aimed at encouraging a healthy lifestyle and discouraging activities such as smoking and excessive drinking.
Organized by the Nation Health System (NHS) and Department of Health the campaign is supported by Cancer Research, the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK.
Many UK companies have reacted angrily to the ad’s implied criticism of video games, though. Tiga CEO Richard Wilson said in a statement: "This advert is absurd and insulting in equal measure. To imply that playing a video game leads to a premature rendezvous with the Grim Reaper is a non-sequitur of colossal proportions."
"This advert is offensive to the 30,000 people who work in the UK’s video games industry, particularly the 10,000 who work in games development. Game developers are typically intelligent, very qualified and creative individuals who work to produce high quality games for people’s entertainment," Wilson said. "They are not in the business of driving people to an early grave."
"With nearly a quarter of men and women and almost a fifth of 2 to 5 year-olds in England obese we clearly need to encourage a more active lifestyle and healthy diet. It should be possible to achieve this objective without misrepresenting a creative industry of 30,000 people."