English Heritage apologises for an anti-gaming advert that ‘missed the mark’

The UK games industry has hit back at an English Heritage advertising campaign that some developers perceived as “dismissing” the “huge heritage aspect to games”.

In an advertising leaflet, English Heritage – which cares for over 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites to “bring the story of England to life for over 10 million people each year” – shows an image of a sword piercing a DualShock controller with the slogan: “Isn’t it time to make their virtual world history?”

“That’s a no from me and also the entire UK games industry – how about collaborating instead of this nonsense?” indie developer Paul Kilduff-Taylor of Mode7 Games tweeted to the organisation. “There’s a huge heritage aspect to games which you’re casually dismissing with this daft campaign.”

Many other games industry colleagues added their voices to the complaint, with Chris Payne reflecting that gamers “LOVE antiquated weaponry. And castles. IDK what their marketing people were thinking…”

“This doesn’t have to be a binary choice either,” added Jake Birkett. “We visited numerous heritage sites as research in order to make our recent historical video games.”

“Only reason I know what that sword is? Games,” said Matt Lees.

“We’re sorry for missing the mark on this one,” the company said by way of a statement on its official Twitter account. “This was intended to be a tongue-in-cheek take on a debate among parents, who this leaflet is aimed at. We certainly didn’t intend to dismiss the value of digital culture but appreciate it may have come across differently.

“We recognise the power of digital and video gaming. Our partnership with Google Arts and Culture, our Minecraft workshops and the recent VR reconstruction of St Augustine’s Abbey are just some of the ways we champion the gaming industry.”

Image credit: English Heritage

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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