Hoax fools serious gamers


Jan. 14, 2003, midnight | By Josh Gottlieb-Miller | 18 years ago


Videogame players were surprised to discover the formation of a new organization devoted to preventing video games from being played. Gamers were even more surprised to discover that the new organization did not in fact exist.

Both CNN online and GamingWorld X have credited the hoax to David Yoo: a self-proclaimed gamer who made the website promoting MAVAV for a school project at the Parsons School of Design. The uproar against MAVAV has been enormous, and Yoo's own website tracking his success purports that since MAVAVs existence it has received thousands of hits and over 1,000 letters.

MAVAV stands for Mothers Against Videogame Addiction and Violence. Filled with absurd non-truths and ridiculous generalizations MAVAV outraged gamers. For instance, one mock poster on the MAVAV homepage showed a picture of Duke Nukem subtitled, ‘No way, not in my home tough guy.' By sprinkling facts on the site, MAVAV was able to convince people that it was a real, newly formed organization. The gamer response was intense.

Most prominently, popular humor site Penny Arcade featured MAVAV after receiving numerous concerned e-mails about its perceived threat. Penny Arcade was not scared though. "As regards the dreaded Mavav, I think we have very little to worry about. In fact, I am prepared to call it a hoax," asserted their message. Penny Arcade later traced MAVAV's server to a "devious" gamer site and exposed it as a fake.

Other gamers embraced MAVAV, even after it was shown to be a deception. Artist Scott Kurtz of the cartoon PVP (Player versus Player) wrote that video games were both addictive and horrible for kids. Kurtz favored moderation in gaming, and argued, "If MAVAV isn't real it should be…they might be right."

Most interesting is Yoo's analysis of MAVAV and the public outcry against it. Yoo writes, "It was interesting observing how fast "contagious media" can travel...while only a ‘few' people know about the hoax, MAVAV continues to travel via word of mouth, completely isolated from the truth...MAVAV lives..."



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