Change4Life, the U.K. government health campaign that drew fire earlier this year for suggesting that videogaming can kill you, is launching a new campaign in which it actually promotes “active” videogames.
A televised ad in January first raised the ire of the U.K. game industry by using a Claymation “family” who by all appearances spend way too much time playing videogames as an example of an overly sedentary lifestyle. Things really blew up in March, however, when a print ad was released that linked premature death to videogaming. The “Risk an early death, just do nothing” ad drew immediate and heavy fire from developers, publishers and trade groups in the U.K. and Sony went so far as to consider legal action as a result of the ad.
It’s a surprising twist, then, that a new series of Change4Life television ads launching today will actually be promoting videogames as part of a healthy lifestyle. The new campaign will urge kids to get at least 60 “active” minutes every day and will focus, according to the Ministry of Health, on “playing videogames in which kids need to move about.”
“Active video games, where kids need to jump up and down or dance about as part of the game, are a great way to get kids moving more,” said Minister for Public Health Dawn Primarolo. “Little bits of activity like this, throughout the day can easily add up to the 60 active minutes kids need. But our survey shows that at the moment our kids just aren’t getting up and about enough.”
Unexpected though it may be, it strikes me as a pretty smart move. Kids are going to play videogames anyway so why not make it something that gets them on their feet? And when they’re done, you can still throw them outside to run around the yard and “get some exercise.” After all, you don’t want to waste your entire day inside playing videogames, do you?