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UK Government Ads Link Games With "Early Death" 232

An anonymous reader writes "The UK government, backed by a bunch of charities that raise funds for research into cancer, heart disease and diabetes, has launched an advertising campaign that links the 'inactive' or passive gaming lifestyle with death and illness. It's part of a bigger 'Change4Life' campaign that has also linked playing games with making children obese. The new ads show a young child playing a PlayStation game, with the caption 'Risk an early DEATH, just do nothing.' To say this has annoyed the UK games industry would be a grave understatement. Trade association ELSPA has already called an urgent meeting with authorities to have the ads pulled, and trade magazine MCV has complained to the country's Advertising Standards Authority as well. As MCV Associate Editor Tim Ingham says in an impassioned opinion piece, 'Change4Life's advertising campaign makes a mockery of everything the industry has achieved in the last decade.'"
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UK Government Ads Link Games With "Early Death"

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  • Fine, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 08, 2009 @02:51AM (#27110413)

    A sedentary lifestyle can be linked to obesity, which in turn *can* be linked to death and illness. The summary is a little too... angry....

    Still, it's partially correct. Instead of arguing that "GAMES ARE BAD AAAWR", the advert could have simply advocated a balanced lifestyle. There's nothing inherently bad about gaming, so long as you remember to exercise. Indeed, some games and game systems (Wii?) can even *encourage* exercise.

  • by Miseph ( 979059 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @03:02AM (#27110467) Journal

    Last I checked, video games weren't exactly a great way to exercise (no, not even Wii Fit... I own it, I know), and inadequate exercise is still considered to be a risk factor for obesity, which is in turn a a major risk factor in a huge number of potentially deadly conditions and preconditions. I love videogames, and I'm not about to cut back my playing in order to exercise more, but I simply can't in good conscience argue that it wouldn't be a good idea (and I'm not even at risk for obesity... my BMI is actually below the average range). I would even say that it is absolutely valid for a public health agency to advocate substituting physical activities for video games, board games, reading, and other non-physical activites for purely health related reasons.

    I'm not sure what the game publishers are actually protesting here, because this sounds like a pretty clear cut issue to me.

  • Not fair (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Superdarion ( 1286310 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @03:17AM (#27110509)
    They're making a bold statement here:

    "Playing Videogames produces sedentarism which in turn produces illness"

    It's not the videogames that make a people sedentary. It's the other way around: sedentary people like to play videogames.

    If videogames didn't exist, those people would just watch tv and still wither and die.
  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @03:18AM (#27110511) Journal
    So they're condemning kids sitting around indoors playing video games all the time instead of going outside, running around, and being kids. Fine, I can deal with that. What I can't deal with, is that the UK government has become such a nanny-state that they keep preventing and even outlawing all sorts of activities "because someone might get hurt". So I ask you all: What the fuck are the kids supposed to do??!?
    MEMO TO UK GOVERNMENT: Make up your damned minds, do you want kids to go out and play or DON'T YOU??!?
  • by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @03:40AM (#27110589) Homepage

    These "causationisnotcorrelation" tags are flat-out the dumbest part of Slashdot these days.

    Take this particular news story: There are no specific claims of any sort that I can see in any of the article links on either side. There aren't any specific correlations being asserted or presented between anything and anything else that I can tell, just a bunch of bitching on both sides. The "correlationisnotcausation" whine-fest is completely beside the point, like a mass hallucination.

    For future reference, first you must have (a) Specific characteristics being discussed. Then (b) Claims of correlations between them. Then (c) Specifically referenced research that backs up those correlation claims. Only then is it any use to start arguing about "correlationisnotcausation" (and usually not even then).

    The "correlationisnotcausation" tagging is just plain vandalism. I don't think the taggers involved even read the summaries anymore, they just tag everything in sight "correlationisnotcausation", like they're autistic graffiti artists.

  • by Shin-LaC ( 1333529 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @03:54AM (#27110621)
    Indeed, singling out games like the ad does only risks getting the wrong message across ("games are bad" instead of "a sedentary lifestyle is bad"). They should balance it out by making an ad showing a girl reading a book under the same "Risk an early DEATH, just do nothing" caption.
  • by CuteSteveJobs ( 1343851 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @03:57AM (#27110631)

    It's easier for the Government to crack down on Games than it is to face up to the Tobacco Lobby: Consider when Tony Blair was UK PM he was caught with a donation from Formula One motor Racing boss Bernie Ecklestone, generously given after Blair changed his mind and decided to allow tobacco sponsorship of the Formula One Grand Prix after all.

    Tobacco is the #1 cause of preventable death in Europe. The World Health Organisation said there have been 40 million tobacco-related deaths since 1999. So how does the British Government Respond? ATTACK GAMES! At least they're consistent with that brilliant Iraq/Afganistan Strategy... []

  • Re:Fine, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NoobixCube ( 1133473 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @04:17AM (#27110677) Journal

    I'd probably go so far as to say that gaming is about a hundred times better for you, physically and mentally, than watching TV. TV doesn't seem to engage my mind, or get my heart rate up - watching TV is just something I do when I need a change of screenery.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 08, 2009 @04:22AM (#27110693)

    Diet is a much more reliable indicator of obesity. Yes, going outside and climbing trees or whatever it is that kids do these days will help burn fat, but burning fat away is notoriously slow compared to gaining weight, and unreliable at that because exercise tends to increase the munch instinct. And statistically, according to an employee my insurance agency, the years you'll live longer will be outweighed by the amount of exercise you do. At a factor of three or so. So you'll have to make sure that whatever exercise it is you're doing is a lot of fun. And too much exercise has been linked with neurological and joint issues. So if you don't like exercising, don't do it, íf your diet is varied and healthy you'll burn up any excess energy just running about the house, cycling to school, the supermarket, friends and such. Maybe you won't maximize your lifespan, but I think you will come a lot closer to maximising total happiness which at least to me is a much more pressing concern. And if you're really worried about your kids not getting enough exercise, maybe they'll like DDR or Wii Fit. Or you could, you know, take them to the woods on a Saturday and have some family time together. Just a thought.

  • by jabithew ( 1340853 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:08AM (#27110809)

    They don't single games out in the ads, there's a whole series of them. Most of the ones I've seen focus on what to do [] as opposed to what not to do.

    I'd be surprised if they didn't have others showing watching TV and using a computer. They're probably not going to attack reading any time soon though, given the amount of money they've spent trying to persuade kids to read at all, and excessive reading is not noticeably a problem in UK youth.

  • Re:Fine, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jerry Smith ( 806480 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:20AM (#27110833) Homepage Journal

    There's nothing inherently bad about gaming, so long as you remember to exercise. But most Americans are a bunch of fatasses so they won't do that.

    Troll, but true: []

  • by jabithew ( 1340853 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:30AM (#27110849)

    The problem is that they didn't do this. They just jump straight to the scare tactic of saying you will die if you play video games.

    No they didn't. This campaign has been running since the new year, and they started with telling you how to modify your lifestyle in a positive way. They used no scare tactics, favouring a utopian vision. I'm guessing this resort to []standard NHS tactics []* means it didn't work.

    Besides, I think we have to face the truth here. Gaming to the exclusion of exercise is unhealthy, this campaign has a reasonable point. Denying this makes Slashdotters look like oil executives denying global warming by straw-manning the opposition.

    "Oh, so the advert campaign is saying that if you play games you'll certainly die right away! How stupid!" +5 Insightful.

    The point of the campaign is that a sedentary lifestyle is harmful to your health, which is true! The self-deluded rage expressed in the summary is moronic.

    *I wish it didn't have to be the Daily Mail, but they had the best example.

  • by jabithew ( 1340853 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:32AM (#27110859)

    The other problem is for teenagers. Of course they loiter around threateningly, there's nothing for them to do in the average UK town centre now.

  • Re:genetics. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:43AM (#27110901) Homepage
    Sorry about this but I'm going to be blunt: you're likely fooling yourself.

    Genetics may well be a factor and probably is, but as far as I can tell it's not the overriding one. I'm speaking from personal experience here - last summer I reached 16st 1 (225lbs) and decided Something Must Be Done(tm). I also put on weight pretty easily, so my I decided my metabolism wasn't going to help me out here and resigned myself to be fat for all time. Still, I didn't need to be quite that fat so decided to try losing a few lbs.

    I started small - a half-hour on Wii Fit jogging every night, plus a change of diet. After a while a friend asked if I wanted to try for a 10km run, so I started training to do that with him. One night's real running, one night's Wii-Fit running - on and off. I also started using the stairs at work - all 17 floors of them, two flights between each floor, average of around 11 steps per flight. Pretty soon weight was coming off quite fast, and the thing is - the more came off, the better my metabolism become at shedding more of it. I was really proud the day I ran 10km for the first time: in a time I'd now consider disastrously slow. My time then was 1hr 15min - by co-incidence I've just come in from my morning 10km run and did 42mins, still not lightening but not terrible either. That's a short run today too since I'm busy, I normally I'd do a half-marathon every Sunday morning and I'm booked in for my first marathon at the end of May.

    I realise that sounds boastful but this is Slashdot - I fully expect that in the thousands out there reading, somebody somewhere can utterly trounce every achievement I've just mentioned and looks at that level of activity as being weak. No, the reason I'm saying my activity levels these days is to contrast with what was happening when I just came home and sat at the computer, or the console, and barely moved all the while eating take-outs or relatively poor quality food. By Christmas I'd got down to 11t 9 (155 lbs). I've kept at that weight since - never lower, but never much higher either. The key here is that as I got more fit, what I'd put down to genetics about me losing weight turned out actually to be just a side effect of the fact I was already overweight. The fitter I became, the better my ability to stay that way.

    It's something I'd seriously recommend to people - it's not just the weight loss though that's very welcome of course, it has an effect on everything. I'm happier, my mind is sharper, I don't feel so tired all the time, I now find I prefer healthier food to the junk so choosing the healthy option isn't a chore...just a better life all round. I'm no monk either - I cut down on drinking, but I still go out and have a few pints or Black Russians (or both, on a particularly good night...) and yes, the odd pizza is still known to be consumed. The difference is that I know how much work, in a literal physical measurement sense of burning energy, I'm going to have to do to get rid of it so I never allow nights like that to just pile up an up which is what I used to do.

    To bring this all back into context with the parent post and the article: the parent's comment on genetics is likely to be misleading because your ability to metabolise improves the fitter you become. The article is going off on a rant about for once a perfectly reasonable statement from the UK government (and I'm British): a sedantery lifestyle for kids or indeed anyone else is going to be less healthy than an active one, and gaming is associated with a sedantery lifestyle. Yes, even Wii Sports and Wii Fit - I startd out with these and they helped a lot, but they're not a substitute for the real thing. I have three kids and I make absolutely sure they do a lot of running around and playing outside, bu I also encourage them to use the Wii and their DS's too. If I deprived them of some modern entertainment like gaming then I'd be being unreasonable, but if I allowed them to settle into doing nothing but then I'd also be being a bad parent - it's that circumstance that the government is pointing out.

  • Re:Fine, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by theeddie55 ( 982783 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @05:45AM (#27110909)
    True, but I can't see a British advertising campaign affecting most Americans.
    Not that Britain isn't heading the same way at an alarming rate.
  • by gowen ( 141411 ) <> on Sunday March 08, 2009 @06:05AM (#27110973) Homepage Journal

    It's easier for the Government to crack down on Games than it is to face up to the Tobacco Lobby:

    Right. Because all they've done is (i) completely ban smoking adverts; (ii) raise the legal smoking age to 18 from 16; (iii) put increasedly gruesome warning messages on packs; (iv) massively increased the size of those warning messages; (v) banned tobacco companies from sponsoring sporting events.


  • Re:Fine, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Sunday March 08, 2009 @06:18AM (#27111013) Journal
    Like there wasn't any fat and lazy kids before the invention of the Playstation? C'mon, fat and lazy has been around forever and if they wanted to do something about fat and lazy why are they not saying anything about the boob tube? There are a hell of a lot more fat and lazy(not to mention stupid) people who do nothing but stare at the idiot box. They never read, never stimulate their mind OR their body, just stare at that damned box. If they want to target fat and lazy imho THAT would be the place to start. But then again a population that actually read and thought would be seen as bad to the new nanny governments of the world.
  • by IHC Navistar ( 967161 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @06:22AM (#27111035)

    DAMN STRAIGHT! Here in the People's Republik of Kalifornia, even dodgeball, tag, and football (unless its flag only) is either discouraged or no longer allowed because someone might get hurt.

    The US has become a nanny-state just like the UK, with the blessings of the asshats in Berkeley who have their heads so far up their own asses they look like doughnuts.

    They have this bizarre idea of turning this world into an idealistic utopia and preach freedoms, while restricting everything under the sun as "dangerous" or "hazardous". What we need is a television ad that tells these straight-jacket loving nutjobs that LIFE IS HAZARDOUS! EVERYTHING IS DANGEROUS!

    I had all sorts of dangerous toys and other things when I was growing up (still am growing up!):

    Magnetrons (radiation hazard)
    Lincoln Logs (now a choking hazard)
    Legos (chocking hazard)
    Steam Engines (the kinds that ran on Hexamine tablets) (fire/injury risk)
    Electric Trains (electrocution hazard)
    Chemistry Sets (toxic chemical/explosion hazard)
    Guns (explosion/injury/death risk)
    Firecrackers (fire/explosion/injury/death risk)
    Fishing Tackle (sharp object / toxic lead risk)
    Erector Sets (choking/injury hazard)
    ATV's (fire/injury/death risk)
    A Truck (fire/injury/death risk)
    Potato Cannons (fire/explosion/injury/death risk)
    Power Tools (fire/injury/death risk)
    Model Rockets (fire/explosion/injury/death risk)
    Thermite (fire/explosion/injury/death risk)
    A Kerosene Blowtorch (fire/explosion/injury/death risk)
    Tool Set (choking/injury hazard)
    Home-Made Bazooka (fire/explosion/injury/death hazard)
    Pneumatic Cannon (explosion/injury/death risk)
    Power Transformers (electrocution hazard)
    Smokeless Powder (explosion hazard)
    Gopher "gassers" (fire/injury/death/chemical hazard)
    Arc Welders / Acetylene Torches .....and the list goes on.....

    Nothing bad ever happened. If I got hurt, I learned my lesson and didn't repeat what I did.

    There is a country song, the name of which I can't remember, that laments the uber-sanitary/safety of everything nowadays. Drinking from a garden hose? Might get toxic chemicals from the rubber. Playing in the dirt? Might get germs. Working around farm animals? Might get anthrax, salmonella or E. Coli. Forget to wash that carrot or radish you just pulled out of the ground? Bad idea, because you might get anthrax, or E. Coli from the dirt.

    Funny, the same people who think up all this shit are the same people who think smoking pot is safe too.....

    Someone ought to put up a public Heath & Safety warning about listening to over-protective idiots..... .....AND DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE DAMNED "BANNED BOOK LIST"!

  • by damburger ( 981828 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @06:51AM (#27111177)

    Yes, a sedentary lifestyle can damage your health. The government are quick to point this out when you sit down to play a computer game but they don't seem to give a crap that you've got to sit down in front of a PC for 8 or 9 hours a day just to make ends meet.

  • by damburger ( 981828 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @06:53AM (#27111197)

    Yeah, if they were serious the would've also vi) banned smoking inside public buildings and vii) taxed cigarettes to death to make the habit prohibitively expensive

    Oh, hand on...

  • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @07:08AM (#27111247) Journal

    Nothing bad ever happened. If I got hurt, I learned my lesson and didn't repeat what I did.

    And you were a better man (or boy) for it. It's called growing up... and that's another side effect of this nanny state, best summed up by a sig I saw on Slashdot the other day: "While trying to child-proof the world, we are neglecting the more important task of world-proofing the child".

  • Re:Fine, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <drsmithy@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Sunday March 08, 2009 @08:38AM (#27111617)

    Like there wasn't any fat and lazy kids before the invention of the Playstation?

    I would certainly say that sedentary lifestyles have become a lot more common over the last couple of decades. Game consoles aren't the only factor, by a long way, but they are certainly a contributor.

    Back when I was a kid, game consoles were expensive and, hence, uncommon. The cartoons and such on TV were much better than they are today, but they were also only on for a couple of hours in the afternoon, rather than 24/7. You pretty much *had* to go outside and do stuff because there wasn't anything else *to* do.

    Although, like I said, it's hardly the only contributing factor. Increasing urbanisation (so less space for kids to get out and do stuff), substantially worse diets (and much easier access to bad food), the modern scourge of helicopter parents who won't let their kids outside for fear they'll be kidnapped and, of course, the inevitable feedback loop because every other kid is in the same situation (so even if you do let your kids out of the house, no-one else will, so they'll just go to someone else's house and sit around doing nothing).

  • by haggus71 ( 1051238 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @09:42AM (#27111915)
    Well, the British fail, once again. For one, a recent study of gamers shows they were actually in better shape, on average, than their peers. This is a trend not limited to gaming in England. From warrant-less searches, to using closed circuit cameras to watch your every move, the government is following the words of Orwell in becoming a true Big Brother. V for Vendetta doesn't seem too far-fetched, does it?
  • by Kratisto ( 1080113 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @07:53PM (#27115855)

    No one disputes that sedentary living is usually unhealthy and can lead to all sorts of issues. The problem is how specifically this targets games. Why run a campaign specifically against one medium when all could be held responsible? For fucks sake, I could start a campaign against the sedentary lifestyle induced by reading! I'd like to see how that is received.

  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Sunday March 08, 2009 @10:35PM (#27117073) Homepage
    Ahh, the wonderful world of statistics. Now do you think that it might just be possible that people suffering from terminal illnesses who have limited mobility and are very restricted in the activities they can participate in, might just possibly be playing computer games and accessing the internet, to improve the quality their quality of life and to provide a measure of escape from the reality of their life, nahh, that could just not possibly be true ;D.

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein