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What's real on the Internet not always clear

By Josh Zelman
CNN Headline News

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(CNN) -- This week in "Big Video Game Hunting," I'm hitting the pause button on game reviews to focus on violence in video games. Specifically on the Web site for a group called Mothers Against Videogame Addiction and Violence.

According to MAVAV's mission statement, the organization is "dedicated to educating parents in today's fastest increasing threat and danger to our child's health and way of life," namely video game addiction and violence.

On MAVAV's Web site, you can easily find "frightening facts" such as "hardcore gaming not only leads to video game addiction and abrupt lifestyle changes, but to crime and felony as well." Also on the site are clues to look for if you think your child is suffering from video game addiction.

What's harder to find is a disclaimer reading that the site is a hoax.

David Yoo, a sophomore student majoring in design and technology at the Parsons School of Design in New York City, designed the Web site for a class assignment, which he told us revolved around public interaction and creating hoaxes in the real and online worlds.

Yoo sent us an e-mail saying " (Mothers Against Video game Addiction and Violence) was put up as hoax/parody/satire organization, which seems to be concerned about the nation's newest growing threat: video game addiction and violence."

Two of the assignment's guidelines:

"Employ the element of craft"

"Create work which is subtle and effective"

Yoo certainly met those goals. More than 60,000 hits have been registered at his site since it was posted December 20, and many people wrote Yoo and his "MAVAV organization" saying bad parenting, not violence in video games, is to blame for childhood mayhem.

Whether that's true is just one issue. The other and perhaps main issue in this case is the legitimacy of what gets posted on the Internet. Harry McCracken, an editor at PC World, says "With a little knowledge and money, anyone can make a site that looks professional."

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