In my daily effort to find affiliates for this site, I stumbled upon Mothers Against Videogame Addiction and Violence. It was just ridiculous enough that I decided I should spend a little time reviewing the site. Maybe one day they’ll post a review of videolamer and tell the world how evil we are. Not because we are important, mind you, but because they think everything is evil.
The MAVAV site opens with a hyperbole about how video game addiction and violence are the fastest growing threats to children’s health and way of life. But before they went on about how video games are a problem rivaling drugs and alcohol abuse, I noticed their logo is a Play Station controller with a red line through it. The logo looks more like it’s saying NO to videogames in general than making a statement about violent or addictive games. This isn’t an accident.
The intro blurb then calls underground videogame culture absurd and accuses it of being racist, sexist and hateful. The author doesn’t seem to mind the sentence fragments in this bit. I’d insult her, but I don’t want to be accused of being a mother hating gamer.
Under this intro are links to new stories, only most aren’t actually links to articles but main site pages. For example, they quote the News Observer as saying, “Are lawyers spending their billable hours diddling away at their keyboards rather than seeking truth and justice and headline-grabbing tobacco settlements? Are doctors taking time away from patients to have “consultations” with their computers?” but then the link is simply to the News Observers homepage. We don’t even get to laugh at the piece in full.
The article section of the site is completely down. The moms are generous enough to leave the titles of these phantom articles, though, so we can still see what topics they are tackling when they aren’t busy being mad about drunk drivers. “EverQuest: A Threat to Society?” sounds good, but then I thought the real threat to society was terrorism and or feminism. “E3: The Evil Entertainment Expo” is an aptly named piece. Most of my time at the last E3 was spent eating babies and planning gay marriages. Then, of course, they have the standard article on Mortal Kombat, at least I’m guessing it’s standard. Maybe one day they’ll have these articles online.
A majority of the site’s content is on their “Resources” page. It states many “facts” and then doesn’t cite a single one. This page wouldn’t receive a passing grade in high school (perhaps the author dropped out of high school due to game addiction). It is a moot point that the studies they may be citing may be highly disputed. The first fact listed tells us that the video game industry is very large and makes a lot of money. This seems fine, but then the page compares the game industry to the tobacco industry because it uses cute characters to market to kids. Apparently the cartoon industry also stole its marketing strategy from Philip Morris.
The next fact explains that young gamers are prone to depression and sadness for their entire lives. I wonder how any significant studies could prove this since the industry is barely 40 years old. If you somehow managed to become addicted to Spacewar as a child, you’d still only be around 55 now.
The final fact says that hardcore gamers never buy games, but rather download them illegally. This is clearly a personality thing and has nothing to do with gaming. People download music and shoplift without ever touching a game and many hardcore gamers, including me, go out of their way to buy brand new copies of games they want to support.
We are then given symptoms of game addiction. My favorite is the report card of a typical troubled gamer. It reads as follows:
Computer Education: Excellent
Social Studies: Poor
Physical Education: Poor
The typo in mathematics leads me to believe the author of this page may indeed be a mother with a videogame addiction. Astoundingly, I managed to pull good grades despite being part of the hardcore uber super underground l33t elite. My guess is that the majority of hardcore gamers are bright individuals. Since neither I nor the moms against games can cite any studies to support our claims, it looks like they cancel out.
“Unusual Role Playing” is the next symptom of addiction. By unusual they mean MMORPGs. I’m glad D&D is normal role playing now, it means I’m normal, too (sorry, Xaxanacharathu, LARPing will never be normal). MMORPGs are “a digital escape from the real world for emotionally unhealthy and mentally unstable people.” Can anyone else hear Henry Jenkins softly sobbing?
Proving video games are not only addictive but violent is easy for the mothers against games. They simply say it’s true. Invoking Columbine always works, too, although I thought those kids killed people because they listened to metal. Rammstein will be glad to hear it was games fault, and the killers’ parents will be glad most people are still blaming entertainment.
Most importantly, they do have merchandise. A cause isn’t really a cause if it doesn’t make a profit, which is why helping the homeless is and will forever remain a joke (unless you harvest their organs). The MAVAV sell pins, shirts, coffee mugs, stickers, and somewhat ironically, mouse pads. I’m tempted to buy one so I can play violent games with it. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve supported someone I don’t like solely for the comic value.
This may not mean much, but the ads Google picks to show on the MAVAV site seem telling. Christian-based Treatment, which I assume aims to replace one addiction with another more costly addiction, and an ad that reads, “Enjoy a Life Without Porn.” If you call that a life.
Ultimately, the Mothers Against Videogame Addiction and Violence website is nearly contentless. There are no articles, the links to the news are laughable, and there are multiple misspellings and grammar issues. The facts they report are completely unsubstantiated and are the same generic warnings conservative parents have been giving for years, only instead of targeting movies, or TV, or comics, or cartoons, or skateboarding, they are aimed at videogames.
I plan on asking these mothers for an interview. If they aren’t interested, I’ll make up an interview where they say funny things. Either way, it should be a good time.