The commercial, for Government health initiative Change 4 Life, shows the ‘son’ in a family made of plasticine tapping away at a gamepad in front of a television – controlling a Space Invaders clone.
The camera then zooms in on the boy – and then under his ‘skin’ – to show ugly looking ‘fat’ increasing in his body. He is later shown shooting an effigy of himself on screen, as the TV reads ‘Game Over’.
The commercial has caused annoyance amongst the publishing community. An insider at one of the world’s biggest producers of fitness games software told MCV: “Any initiative that encourages people to move towards a healthier lifestyle can only be a good thing. But this is just another example of naive stereotyping and scapegoating. Video games can be a part of an active and healthy lifestyle for everyone of all ages.
“Actually, because video games are playing such an important and fun role in people’s lives, the very audience this advert is supposed to address and speak to might dismiss it purely because of the naivety and ignorance shown.”
Publisher for Future’s games portfolio Richard Keith added:
“You would have to pretty hard-headed not to support
the aims of the Change 4 Life campaign. The juxtaposition of sedentary gaming against an active lifestyle is an obvious one.
“However, it should be noted that when it comes to house-bound activities gaming is much more ‘active’ than most – whether that’s exercising the brain with puzzles, rocking out with Rock Band or playing a few sets of tennis with Wii Sports, there’s more to gaming than sitting playing Space Invaders."
The ad is available to view on YouTube here.