The UK Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) have issued Guidance on Advertisements for Video Games and Films. The Guidance is in line with the recommendations made in the Byron Review to help ensure advertisements for video games and films remain responsible and that children are protected from potentially harmful or distressing content.
The guidance is split into separate issues:
- Content and context: The communications medium (e.g., publication or channel) should be considered when placing an advertisement.
- Age-rated products: Advertisements should be suitable for the medium in which they appear, which is not necessarily reflected by a film or game age rating.
- Time of broadcast: Advertisements should be suitable for the intended audience, based on both the audience figures for broadcast times and the content of the programmes around which it is broadcast.
- Condoning or glorifying violence: Such advertisement content should be avoided.
- The depiction of fighting: Video games and films may involve fighting, which might be reflected in advertisements. Scenes of graphic or realistic violence should be used with caution.
- The realism of violence: Realistic human characters involved in graphic, brutal or sustained violence could be deemed totally unacceptable, regardless of when they are broadcast.
- Graphic depictions of violence: Care should be taken to avoid such depictions (realistic or stylised) in untargeted media such as posters. Consideration should be given to exactly where an advertisement will be placed.
- Violent acts: Care should be taken when implying that a violent act has taken place or is about to take place, even if it is not actually shown.
- Direct or implied violence: Care should be taken with radio advertisements, as the sounds of people in pain, fear or suffering can distress listeners, especially children.
- Shocking images: The use of shocking images in any medium to draw attention to a product should be avoided.
- Guns and weapons: Careful consideration should be given to their depiction.
- The use of nudity: Some nudity is considered to be acceptable if it is directly relevant to the product being advertised. But it is likely to be considered unacceptable if the images are graphic or not relevant to the product or service being advertised. Special care should be taken when using nudity in untargeted media, such as posters, which could be seen by children or by those likely to be offended.
- The use of explicit sexual images and innuendo: Special care should be taken.
- References to drugs: Extreme caution should be exercised to avoid being socially irresponsible or condoning drug use.
- The use of non-game footage: Care should be taken to avoid misleading consumers if an advertisement includes images or sounds that are not representative of actual gameplay.