back to article Advertising watchdog okays 'gaming equals early grave' ad

The Advertising Standards Authority has stood behind an advert that some consumers complained connected videogames with an early death. Gaming_lifestyle_advert Advert A-OK, rules ASA The UK's advertising watchdog ruled that “the ad did not claim that playing computer or console games alone would lead to illness or …


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  1. michael

    maby if it was part of a series

    with a tv couch potato and other layabouts in the other ones? but on it's own it dose strike me as a bit odd

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lies, damned lies and idiot parents

    "It’s worth noting that one child was, according to the ASA, scared “she would die if she played video games”. "

    Kind of like those parents who claimed they were frightened of the one armed kids TV presenter Cerrie Burnell. Any idiot can tell that those kids were only "scared" because their parents had made them scared. Equally I'm pretty damned sure that the little girl "scared" by this advert was actually scared by her parents, who probably have a vested interest anyway.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    The right decision.

    How any of the gaming press could say otherwise is beyond me.

    This vitriolic campaign by MCV was bound to fail. When you have to resort to putting the ASA complaints page as a link in the article, you know something is wrong. MCV hoped to sway the ASA by weight of complaints, not the content of the advertisment.

    I wonder if they'll be reporting this ruling as much as their indignation of the orginal add? Nope.. thought not.

  4. Stef
    Thumb Down

    Oh for God's sake

    This stuff is getting stupid.

    I'm looking forward to the adverts featuring a kid sitting down reading the new Harry Potter book with the headline "Risk an early death..." and the subsequent outcry.

  5. Matt Eagles

    Is lobbying fattening?

    I notice that whilst playing computer games appears to kill; fatty, sugary food is not mentioned. I wonder if this is because the Change 4 Life campaign is sponsered to the tune of £200M by Business 4 Life? B4L is a lobbying group including Nestle, Cadbury, Coca-Cola, Kellogg's, and Pepsi Co. All well know for the massive contribution they make to the countries health. Playstation must be kicking themselves for not getting in on the act.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Paul Murphy

    What else could they do?

    Commuting on a train (driving a car being a little less worse)

    Watching TV


    doing jigsaw puzzles

    writing comments on websites ...



  8. Liam

    i admit

    personally i think it looks bad.

    i cant imagine if the role was reversed and it was just a pic of someone eating an easily seen choccy bar label that said choccy bar company would be too happy.

    and everyone who sees an advert is of sound mind. kids and people with learning difficulties take things at face value.

    we all know video games keep the brain active, much more than most alternatives!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The ASA don't actually seem to know their bum from their elbow

    Apparently during the AM C4 comedy slot there's little chance of small children seeing the adverts (and health campaigns)... their parents don't watch programs that aren't aimed at children but don't have inappropriate content when they have a toddler in the room, apparently.

  10. Oliver Humpage


    This week's Private Eye makes the interesting observation that the commercial funders of this new Change 4 Life campaign are, for the most part, food (often junk food) manufacturers... and not one video game company.

    Odd, then, that the advert about early death doesn't show a kid stuffing his face with chocolate, burgers, crisps, etc...

  11. Dex

    oh please... games keep the brain active, if the end user is too boneidle....or a WoW players thats too "addicted" to get off thier fat arse then thats thier own damn fault, if they can't got the balls to know where to draw the line of even seek help then it's thier fault, not the games.

  12. kenzie


    I love how we're all sensible people when it suits them...

  13. Alan Fisher

    In other news....

    one the the complaining gamers "Ihazgotzabiggazz", a prominent and vocal gaming blogger almost went outside during the DAY in order to complain, but then changed his mind and opened a new bag of Cheezy Poofs, which he consumed with savage disgust

  14. B Ward
    Thumb Down

    Yeah so

    Where's the parks and proper PE for the kids to play in? They get fat because they get shoved so long in school with less sports to do and less areas to play in when not. Add in the amount of crap prepacked meals etc. and high energy sweetie bars, so trying to pin this trend all on video games is pretty misleading. Usual government scare mongering and doing little to address the core causes it.

  15. blue

    Arbitrary Standards Authoritay

    There's a newspaper advert doing the rounds now for Vodafone. It states GET UNLIMITED* TEXTS.

    The asterix points to the shameless contradiction "Subject to fair usage of 3000 texts".

    The ASA is fine with this dishonest manipulation.

  16. Matt Dowson

    Consider the source

    This advert is part of the so called Change4Life campaign, a Department of Health supported campaign, which is actually being funded by (amongst others) PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Cadbury's, Mars and Nestle. Funny how they've chosen to target the games industry (not represented on the campaign board) and not mention the sheer amount of sugary crap (however delicious and tempting it may be) that they create. Or the TV heavy lifestyle which funds other board members such as ITV, Virgin Media and BSkyB. Private Eye brought this one up this week as well, but there's a decent article at for those who want a quicker to get to article.

    Yes we have a problem with weight in this country (myself included), yes something needs to be done, but can we please have information from experts instead of vested interests and can we please, please, /please/ have a little less hypocrisy?

  17. Ian

    I guess the ASA has a shortage of logical thought then?

    If the advert is just about "doing nothing" and has nothing to do with computer games then why is the kid holding a console controller? Clearly the kid on the ad is not "doing nothing" because he is holding a controller and hence doing something. It's false advertising or misrepresentation of the facts either way.

    But then, we're talking about a body that has to justify it's existence and what better way than coming up with unresearch, unsubstantiated claims and building ad campaigns around them? I guess we have to keep the terminally incompetent employed somehow and there are worse ways than creating non-jobs. It's just a shame these non-jobs are funded by the tax payer and we get nothing actually useful out of them, just FUD.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    it's saying that computer games kill. The kid's playing a computer game, the advert says the kid will die soon.

    As the 1st commenter says, if they wanted to show someone being sedentary why not use a "couch potato"? Or some kids watching a TV that's projecting onto their faces (as all movie screens do)? How about kids being driven to school rather than walking?

    How about "In 10 years, this child will walk around a corridor, shooting people."? It's not claiming it's because of the game, but it's certainly going to give that impression.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Sedentary lifestyle

    “most readers would understand that the ad was discouraging a sedentary lifestyle”

    I sit at a desk for 8 hours a day while working in an office.

    Sounds like a "sedentary lifestyle" to me.

    Next Ad:

    "Save your life... Quit your Job!!!"

  20. Anonymous Coward


    A bit odd? Like how Counter Strike seems to be responsible for any and all shootings? The Beeb kindly threw in the Counter Strike line with that shooting in Germany, "the shooter was known to play Counter Strike" - yeah right, so was that dude who saved a copper during a heist, no mention of Counter Strike then!

    Stop the anti-gaming campaigns already!

  21. Alexis Vallance


    What's the point anyway?

    Everybody knows sitting around is bad and excercise is good.

    No poster is going to create some sort of epiphany.

  22. adam
    Thumb Down

    Not only are gamers evil we're couch potatos as well

    I don't understand how they could come up with that ruling.

    They make an ad like this with a games console in it and they said isn't meant to imply anything about gaming. Of course it does!

  23. Dan

    When do we see...

    ..adverts showing joggers mown down by cars, power-walkers hanging a heart attack in the park, weight lifters crushed by falling weights.

    Maybe even....dieing due to repeated beating from a PS3 controller for taking photos and getting in the way of the telly.

    People like playing console game, it allows them to vent the huge build up of rage without having to go out an do it in the street.

  24. DT

    wii sports?

    If you don't play games, it isn't that you live longer, it just **feels** longer.

    Oh, funny how they don't pick on other sedantary persuits like, for example, reading books?

  25. Richard

    What's the game?

    Seriously the kid looks bored out of his mind, did they give him an "educational game"?

  26. Anonymous Coward

    just bought a nintendo

    OMG i better take it back and return WII fit and all the other crap the GF insisted on getting for it.

  27. Antony Riley

    Simple Response

    Put out an advert linking exertion through computer games with a healthy life style.

    Simple fact that mentally taxing games burn quite a lot of calories and there are more and more computer games around these days which include physical activity (Wiifit, dancepad games, sing star etc).

    I very much doubt the ASA could uphold any complaints about it, and you could always have an industry backed study to backup the advert.

  28. Fruitloop

    I knew that already

    I'm always dying early, in call of duty I died 23 times in one game last night !

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Suprised Sony hasn't sued them for making them look bad.

    It's a pretty shady campaign as it obviously implies that playing games is what makes you lazy.

    Wonder what cadburies would do if the kid had a mars bar in his mouth. Ahh they helped make the advert! Suprise suprise.

  30. Tony


    ...If the kid in Germany had played MORE counterstrike he would have been too unfit to go on a killing spree...

  31. John Savard


    Since this advertisement is not for the purpose of selling a commercial product, or soliciting donations, but is to encourage a healthier lifestyle, for an advertising council to be able to regulate it seems to be an intrusion into freedom of speech.

    Next they'll ban advertisements for books written by people who claim to have been taken aboard flying saucers.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Dear Nanny's

    On behalf of sensible people every where: ODFO, some of us are capable enough parents that we don't need or want you nagging us or meddling in our affairs. Were quite capable of ensuring that our children get exercise and do other activities and still enjoy the video games they like. So please take you're self righteous scare mongering ads roll them up real tight and shove them right up your collective asses.

    Hugs and Kisses, strong message follows.

    A parent with a brain

  33. Heff

    Die early doing nothing

    Seriously, son, dont just sit there, Block, Duck, he's gonna hammer you!... aww, see, Fatality.


    The shady funding is absolutely zero surprise, the junk food industry funds these little excursions, not to slap down marketplace rivals but as a backtop against the myopic-laser-like eye of the campaign focussing on them;

    "we need to tell kids to eat less candy, drink less soda, eat less burgers, and go outside more"

    Spokesman for Cadburys - Surely chocolate isnt the problem? we can always withdraw funding if theres a conflict of interest.

    Spokesman for Pepsi - Soda isnt the problem, taken in moderation. But we can always withdraw funding if theres a conflict of interest.

    Spokesman for McDonalds - We also sell a range of salads, but if you feel there's a conflict of interest, we can always withdraw funding.

    Ah, so we're agreed, the problem is the little blighters arent going outside more!

    The department of health probably has a mandate handed down to it, telling it to get serious and produce some fucking ads making kids go outside and not be fat. its given zero extra funds for this, and is told to "seek public-private-partnership for your funds" You, the campaign manager, hit up sports companies, sportsdrinks makers, red bull, etc. They refuse to play. why? they're already doing their own, individual, successful ad campaigns, and research shows that comitting their funds to something without their name on it is a waste of fucking time. You take your project to the enemy, and the enemy pledges money if you'll just focus on someone else. all of a sudden, you, the campaign manager, can hire a few hotel conference rooms, plenty of pretty interns, a couple of campaign-owned cars to drive around in. You've enough funding to make the campaign last for 5 years, which is welcome job security. You go and play golf with marketing execs from McDonalds and Pepsi. You submit a report to central office about how you've successfully attracted funding from a source outside the government. You get a pat on the back and a reacharound from your bosses boss.

    Good job, bureaucracy.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The obvious answer... to buy a motion platform from my company, so you get thrown around and work up a sweat while gaming! :P

  35. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Up


    The only thing that will cause a problem is the fact that he is playing a PS3 which will certainly induce suicidal tendencies when he realises all the great games are out on Xbox and Wii, not PS3!

  36. Noel Coward

    Boring Ads

    Why oh why can't these agencies produce ads promoting the benefits of a healthy life rather than this grey boring drivel that no-one will ever look at or pay attention to.

    The ad shows a severe lack of imagination and should have been banned on grounds of taste.

    I am now off to ask my government to place it on our censored list.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    but good for the brain

    Sitting around all day playing video games may be bad for the waistline, but it improves brain functioning. A few years ago some studies showed that FPS games improve reaction time and rapid decision-making. A recent study found that RTS games can improve multitasking ability and working memory.

    Lots more information about video game research:

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On the other hand.....

    I bought GTA San Andreas in 2005 and liked the martial arts stuff so much that I joined a Thai boxing gym to try out the moves for real. 4 years on I'm still there, I've lost 7 stone (I was seriously overweight), I train 4 - 5 times a week and I'm preparing to do a real Thai boxing match in May. OK, so I'm a grown up and this was my choice, but this shows that it's possible in at least one case for computer games to encourage healthy behaviour. I have to say that I find the constant government health campaigns to be extremely patronizing and I'm half tempted to take up smoking because of the ridiculous ways that it's being demonized. When I sorted out my health and fitness it had nothing to do with twee little adverts from on high.

  39. spam


    The ASA has always found telling lies in support of a politically correct agenda is acceptable.

  40. Maksim Rukov
    Jobs Horns

    It is surprising...

    ...that the advertising people didn't have the sense to at least give the kid some sort of Generic Brand (TM) controller. I'm sure if they were taking a shot of a kid eating crisps they'd not leave a giant "Smiths" label visible.

    I daresay that the advert bods don't understand that technology has recognisable forms that the initiated can easily spot. They probably think, "a controller's a controller innit?"

    I can imagine them making the same mistake in a campaign about hearing loss with portable music and using an iPod instead of a Generic Brand (TM) device. Then Apple would be all over them like a rash.

  41. Mark

    I take a problem with the PS3 controller used

    Everyone knows, the 360 is the console bought by kids (for which this advertising is aimed at).

  42. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    @ B Ward

    But it still ALL comes down to the parents. Similar to the other posts I have seen under your moniker your points are fairly lame and ill thought.

    Take your kid for a walk around a shopping centre if you have to, or down the road and round the corner and back. There are plenty of places for kids to go that are not parks or playgrounds, and using that as an excuse is lazy. Its just that it's too much effort for the parents to work this out isn't it... and who is forcing these kids to eat all of this crap food? Come on, I'll give you a starter for 10... it's the P A R E N T S.

  43. Pol hotpot

    Why is it?

    That every other advert on these days is from the government telling us what not to do?

    Is it some sort of bailout for the ad industry now that the banks don't have the funds to try to coax us all into debt bondage?

    It makes me want to take up smoking.

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