Nickelodeon has been urging children to vote for their favorite games at Addicting Games.com, a gaming website that is part of its popular media empire for kids. Tomorrow morning, in a television special called the Addicting Games Showdown, Nickelodeon will announce which game was voted “Most Heart-Pounding,” “Most Superior Ninja” and “OMG! Cutest Animal.” It may sound like Addicting Games is just another innocuous game site for children, but that’s not the case.
CCFC has been monitoring AddictingGames.com for several months. The site, which is just a click away from many of Nick’s popular websites for children, contains numerous sexualized and graphically violent games that aren’t—by any stretch of the imagination—suitable for kids.
That’s why Nick should add a few more categories to its award show:
Category: Most Horrifyingly Misogynistic Game
Nominee: Nancy Balls
Game Description: “You can try to keep women out of congress, but it's going to be really difficult. Take their shoes away and collect guns. That's how to be a MAN."
Category: Most Disturbingly Violent Game
Nominee: Torture Chamber III
Description: “The object of Torture Chamber is to cause as much pain as possible to your victim before he dies. Doing so awards pain points, and unlocks new forms of punishment."
Category: Creepiest Stalker Game
Nominee: Perry the Perv
Description: “Perry the sneak loves women. The only problem is that women don't love Perry. The fact that he's a peeper on a mission doesn't help either. So Perry decided, if you can't beat ‘em, try harder! Help Perry get an eyeful without getting a handful for being the world's best Serial Peaker!"(sic)
Nickelodeon cynically refuses to stop promoting Addicting Games to children, which is why CCFC members overwhelmingly chose the site as the winner of this year’s TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young children) Award for worst toy of the year.
In fact, until recently, Nick promoted—and linked to—AddictingGames.com from websites for preschoolers such as NickJr.com, and the Dora the Explorer website. Those links were removed only after more than 7,000 CCFC members wrote to Nick demanding their removal. But Addicting Games continues to be marketed on Nickelodeon websites popular with young children. That means kids who play online with SpongeBob are only a click away from games that celebrate stalking, torture, and debasing the current Speaker of the House of Representatives solely because she’s a woman.
Since we launched CCFC’s Addicting Games campaign, we’ve heard from a number of angry parents who believed that all of the games on the website were fine for children because they trusted Nickelodeon to provide only age-appropriate content. It’s not surprising that they were—and continue to be—misled. Nick promotes itself as a family-friendly company and promotes Addicting Games under the heading of “Nickelodeon Kids and Family Websites.” And now the company is using the power of its popular children’s television network to lure even more young children to a site that features “naughty” games, shooting games, and even games where the object is to torture animals.
While we find these and other games on AddictingGames.com appalling, we would, to paraphrase Voltaire, defend to the death the right of others to play them—provided those others are adults. Therefore, we recommend a simple solution. Viacom, Nickelodeon’s parent company, should move the adult gaming content to an adults-only website that is not promoted on, or linked from, any of Nickelodeon’s websites or media properties for children. Then the umbrella of “Nickelodeon Kids and Family Websites” would be comprised only of games that actually are for kids and families.
Doing so would acknowledge the obvious: Children are different than adults and deserve special protections on the Internet. No matter how lucrative gaming may be, Nick should not promote lechery and sadism just to keep young eyes glued to advertising supported-screens by providing content.