U.K. Game Industry Protests Change 4 Life Ad

Video game makers in the United Kingdom are strongly objecting to a government healthy-living ad campaign that they say unfairly portrays playing games as hazardous to children’s health.

The Change 4 Life campaign includes an image of a child using a game controller under the headline, ‘Risk an early death, just do nothing.’ The image first was published as an ad in a major women’s magazine, and also can be seen in video form on the campaign’s web site.

Game manufacturers such as Sony, Sega, the game developers trade association, Tiger, and the trade publication MCV have called the image a libelous portrayal of their industry. MCV reports it has filed a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority.

The campaign is part of a government initiative to encourage people to eat healthier food and exercise more. The ad was created by the Department of Health in association with Cancer Research, The British Heart Foundation and Diabetes U.K.

The Department of Health has defended the ads and refused demands it apologize to the industry, stating that the government ‘wasn’t saying children shouldn’t play computer games,’ MCV reported.

The video game industry in the U.K. has long been frustrated by the government’s refusal to grant it entertainment status equal to the film or TV industries, according to the Times Online. Such status would make the industry eligible for certain tax breaks and access to lottery funds.