Have a close look at this picture. It looks like a young boy about 6 years old who appears to be playing a computer game using the sixaxis controller for the PS3. Take a closer look and maybe, like me, you'll begin to think that something's not quite right here...
First of all, look at his face: does that look like the face that children make when they are lost in a game? His bored and indifferent look suggests that maybe the computer game is not switched on at the wall!
Also, look at his posture. Again it shouts out that there is a clear lack of engagement and disinterest in what he is playing.
What on esrth is going with this young man I ask? Does he really have a PS3 that works?!!! I don't think so and neither do I think do Sony! Well this picture was taken from a short video clip that is currently being used in a new campaign by the Department of Health via their Change4Life initiative.
Take a look at the short clip from which this photo was taken and try not to feel the presence of the director at the side asking the young lad to look unhappy and unhealthy.
I have recent experience of this attempt to reinforce uninformed and unhelpful stereotypes of game players when I accompanied a BBC crew to a school in Scotland to investigate our use of Dr Kawashima's Brain Training in schools. The editorial take was such that they wanted to show the transition form 'old school' to 'new school' by taking a shot of the kids using pencil and paper and looking 'glum' as they did this. Happy faces would then return when the DS came out! Needless to say we intervened to ask this not to happen because it's not the message that we want to give nor is it the ethos that we aim to nurture. It does look like we still have to fully address the easy negative image that has been associated with computer games. I bet the production team all went home to play with their Wii that's in the living room though ;-)
A tip for Director's who want to construct an appropriately negative image of children and games in future. Get real! Children do not look like that when they are challenged, excited and engaged by the complex environments that games can offer them. Maybe eventually the message will get through...