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Mothers against Mario?

The MAVAV Hoax

By James Stevenson     January 02, 2003

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you! I sincerely hope that your holiday was better than mine - down and sick with a nasty flu strain. The typical school break is similarly followed in the video game industry, so this is the quietest time of the year for news and releases.

It was not to be, though. Gabe and Tycho of Penny Arcade ( discovered a new website,, which stands for Mothers Against Violence and Addiction in Video games. There was some immediate outrage against the site, but PA's dynamic duo ultimately revealed it to be a hoax that someone was doing as a school project.

It was all well and good, but then Scott Kurtz ran a little rant that said "video games are horrible for kids" (the article can be found at: I want to respectfully disagree here, from my own perspective.

Are video games as productive as reading a book? No, you can't even argue that. Would the time be better spent outside playing football? Maybe, but who's to say that a kid would enjoy playing football outside better than playing the newest Mario game?

I started playing video games at the age of three. I ran an old DOS based machine that I knew how to boot up

Red Dead Revolver

and input the commands to fire up games like DIGDUG and FROGGER. Since then, gaming has been an important part of my life, while there have been some mindless experiences out there, there are also many games that have had an impact on me, and touched me in some way with their stories or the messages delivered by the game. FINAL FANTASY III, THE LEGEND OF ZELDA, MARIO, each of these games has meant much more to me than a simple addiction. Even while gaming, I read a lot, played sports with friends, and had a pretty balanced life.

I turned out to be a pretty smart guy (if I do say so myself). National Merit Scholarship winner, valedictorian of my high school, 4.0, etc. I did all of this while writing about video games. After 15 years of game playing, I was... normal. Admittedly, I am not nearly as obsessive as I've known some game players to be. I'll chalk that up to some parental control on my habit (until paychecks started rolling in, that is).

The point is, I'm not the exception. Many of my friends are regular game players. It's something we do in our free time, like a good card or board game. Video gaming is another form of entertainment, the only way it's any worse is in its interactively and how that can contribute to violence. Given that military and police use games to desensitize people to killing, I think it's plausible this same effect happens to game players, but I don't think it turns a normal person into a killer. Regardless, gaming is not the evil in society it is being made out to be.

MAVAV may be a hoax, and Scott Kurtz might have his own opinion, but


I think the majority of cases show that games didn't corrupt children into killers, addicts, or anything else for that matter.

No Tidbits and the like this week. Nothing of interest has been released.

Gamers' Thumb is our weekly Video Game column.

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