IGEA: 1, SA Government: 0, End of First Half

An image of a sign-writer writing "sorry" in the air

Any Any has been reporting on the No Game campaign that is currently being run by the South Australian government which seeks to spread the concern and vexation about childrens' exposure to computer games and how it'll turn them into problem gamblers.

The Interactive Gaming and Entertainment Association, IGEA, sent a sternly worded letter to the government attacking its key principles just under a week ago, particularly focusing on the campaign billboards that showed a young girl with an iPad wearing sunglasses typical of a poker player and surrounded by chips.  Among other things that letter sought that the advertising get the chop under the regulations that require the government to present factual and truthful advertising - a standard which there is no legal mandate for in advertising generally outside government so a clever pressure point to squeeze.

ABC News South Australia reported last night that the shot seems to have wounded the campaign.  The ads will be removed shortly and astonishingly, SA Premier Jay Weatherill admitted in the footage that the ads were a mistake.  The victory isn't quite 100% though and there's still plenty to criticise, Watherill from the footage;

The way in which it was pitched suggested that really, it applies to all games and that's not the message we want to send out

And an associated researcher, Robert Chappell

You'll never get any research to prove conclusively that anything is linked to anything in the social sciences space

Thing is, the advertising campaign either wasn't actually trying to pitch a causal link between all games and problem gambling, or if it was that message was hidden somewhere and in any event it's not the point.  Available research doesn't even support the campaign's fallback position - that there is some sort of not particularly well defined but certainly highly worrying link that's not causal between some games, and some gambling behaviours in some people.

I write a lot about the Overton Window because of how important a concept it is in regulatory discussion and it applies again here.  By the SA premier and his associated agenda researchers retreating a particularly broad "we should be very worried about all computer games because they make people pokie addicts" position in the wake of outrage from industry associations like IGEA and commentary like on Any Any, they leave the way clear to advocate a more moderate (but still completely wrong) position alternative. That position might apply to some games, and some people, in some circumstances, and be celebrated by the government in having "got the balance right".  Of course like in so many instances of "getting the balance right", the result will be the mathematical average of a harmless status quo on one side and a pants-on-head stupid response to a non-problem with a bad solution on the other.  Regalatophiles think good ideas are made by watering down bad ones.

Still, props to IGEA.  Getting a response inside deadline and including a mea culpa is no small feat, particularly in SA.  What remains to be seen is what happens after half time.


Image:  Dave Keeshan