ASA: 99 per cent of games advertised responsibly

Advertising Standards Authority encouraged by industry's care in marketing videogames appropriately

The Advertising Standard Authority in the UK has found that 99 per cent of videogames are advertised and marketed responsibly by the industry.

The ASA was acting following the publication of the Byron Report last year, to address whether videogames are targeted at the appropriate age group and in-line with advertising codes.

The authority examined advertisements for games between April and June 2008, considering age rating, scheduling, content and context.

Of the 241 ads examined, only one breached the rules, and the ASA also found that the majority of ads, apart from those on radio, made clear reference to the age rating of the game.

"Our survey is encouraging as it suggests that videogames are being advertised responsibly and in line with the Codes," commented Christopher Graham, director general of the ASA.

"The issue raised by Dr Byron of children’s exposure to violent or inappropriate imagery in videogames is an important one. The ASA will play its part in protecting children by ensuring video game ads continue to play by the rules."

Ads were found to be appropriately placed, with the ASA noting that although many depicted violence, it was stylised and clearly separate from reality. It also found that violent content in magazines often overshadowed the content of the adverts themselves.

Michael Rawlinson, managing director of ELSPA, said that the standards set by the Pan European Game Information system had helped the ASA reach its conclusions.

"The games industry here takes its responsibilities very seriously in relation to the advertising of games, that's why the PEGI system has its own adverting rules," he told "I am sure this has significantly contributed to the excellent compliance that the ASA has found in relation to its own codes."

During the survey period, the ASA received complaints about three videogames in particular – Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV, Sega's Condemned 2: Bloodshot and Battlefield: Bad Company from EA.

Only the complaint for Sega's Condemned 2 was upheld, with the conclusion that some viewers may have found the content "offensive and distressing".

The full report by the ASA can be downloaded here.

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