AddictingGames.com is owned by Nickelodeon's parent company, Viacom, but can be accessed directly from the Nick.com homepage. On AddictingGames.com, the "Nickelodeon" logo is featured prominently on the upper right corner of the screen - suggesting that the site is appropriate for a young demographic.
Nick.com describes itself as "THE place for kids to play games online!" There will even be an entire show devoted to promoting an AddictingGames.com contest airing on Nickelodeon's TV station on June 19.
But with videogames starring busty, panty-clad cartoon characters, AddictingGames.com seems more suitable for the MTV crowd than Nickelodeon's gradeschool-aged fans.
More concerning than the near-nudity, however, is the creepy subject matter of the video games, which sometimes strays into pedophile-territory.
In one game titled "Naughty Classroom," players take the role of cartoon schoolchildren, and the object is to get the scantily-dressed teacher to reveal her skimpy panties and bra to the class. Players are encouraged to "fulfill your ultimate childhood fantasy! Naughty Classroom will leave you begging for more homework!!!"
The game "Naughty Gym Teacher" is almost as sleazy, with a description that sounds like it was pulled straight off an X-rated movie. "These giggly schoolgirls cannot get enough of their hot male gym instructor, and they will resort to the naughtiest tricks to get what they want!" the game raves.
After watching their gym coach lifting weights, the female students in the video gush, "I'd love to be Coach Rodder's ‘dumb belle!'"
With widespread concern over teachers sexually abusing children, it's bizarre that Nickelodeon would partner with a website that seemingly endorses that type of behavior. Also troubling are the lessons that some of the video games seem to teach children - namely, that it's acceptable to sexually harass women.
One game on the site is literally called "Perry the Perv" - appropriate, when you learn that the object is to ogle large-breasted females in public places without getting caught. "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!" the game instructs.
In another game titled "Naughty Park," which features young boys at a playground, the description reads "Those three naughty boys are at it again! Help them use Bees, Worms and Puppies in sneaky ways to get a hot jogger undressed!"
But these games are just the beginning. There are 31 games in total listed under the "naughty" section of the site, including:
- Vanessa's Naughty Pics: A thinly-veiled reference to Disney Channel starlet Vanessa Hudgens, whose nude photos made their way around the internet in 2007. The object of this game is to "follow Vanessa wherever she goes" and try to get "valuable, compromising photos of her."
- Kiss-Mat: At a "party where whisky flows" the point of this game is to "get up close and lip lock" with a celebrity.
- Naughty Detective: The description reads: "Boyfriend been working late too many nights in a row...transform into Detective Jealous and catch your partner in the act!"
- Breeder: The object of this downright weird game is to get bunnies to procreate.
- Sorority Panty Raid: Players sneak into a sorority house in order to collect panties.
- Hit & Strip: Successfully soak other characters with water balloons and players will get to see their underwear.
Addicting Games warns players of the "mature content" in these programs by placing a pin-sized image of a bomb with the fuse lit next to the game titles. According to Addicting Games, this symbol means the game may not be appropriate for all users.
"While most of our games are appropriate for people of all ages, there are games that some may find edgy or offensive -- and we would like to educate our users and their adult supervisors about how to identify those games," reads the guidance on the website. "As such, if you see a little bomb next to a game title, it means the game has been flagged by our editors for moderate violence or mature themes."
Nickelodeon has also defended linking to the Addicting Games site in the past by noting that an alert pops up letting the web-surfer know when he is leaving the Nick.com site and going to an outside page.
But critics argue that the warning message is not enough - and they say that by simply linking to the Addicting Games site, Nick.com is implying that the content is appropriate for children. It's also easy to see how a young child - or even his parents and supervisors - could mistake Addicting Games as part of the Nick.com site.
At the top of Nick.com's homepage, there are links to the kid-friendly pages "Nicktoons," "Teen Nick," "Nick at Nite," "Nick Jr.," the TV show "iCarly," in addition to a taskbar that says "More." Under the "More" category, the link to AddictingGames.com is featured alongside the Spongebob Squarepants page link and the preschool-focused Nick Jr. Arcade.
After opening the Addicting Games website, an orange bar the size of a banner advertisement pops up at the top of the page reading, "You're Leaving Nick.com - Note: this window will disappear in 5 seconds."
On Friday, June 11, the day the site was accessed by the Media Research Center, the "Leaving Nick.com" alert was quickly replaced by a large banner promoting "Nickelodeon's AddictingGames Showdown," as well as the orange Nickelodeon logo in the right hand corner of the screen.
Addicting Games has garnered so much outrage that the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) gave it the "Worst Toy of the Year Award" for 2010. Josh Golin, the Associate Director of the CCFC said that parents weren't necessarily upset about the content of the website, but that Nickelodeon was promoting it to children.
In fact, Golin said that AddictingGames.com could initially be accessed from NickJr.com, a website for preschoolers. He added that Nickelodeon removed the link from NickJr.com after the CCFC campaigned against it.
"At the same time [Nickelodeon is] finally getting around to removing [the Addicting Games] links to the preschool website, it's escalating the promotion to other children," said Golin, noting that the "AddictingGames Showdown" will be broadcast on the Nickelodeon TV station on June 19, which will potentially attract more young viewers to the site.
"We've heard from parents that since we launched this campaign that they [used to] let their kids play on Addicting Games because it was linked from Nick, and they were no longer going to do it," said Golin.
In addition to the CCFC campaign, Good Morning America also ran a feature last December exposing the mature content on the site. However, even in the face of this negative publicity, Nickelodeon has still not pulled the link to Addicting Games from its homepage.
When Nickelodeon isn't teaching children about inappropriate behavior, it's lecturing them about the environment. Nick launched "The Big Green Help," a multimedia campaign that encouraged the network's young viewers to become junior environmentalists, and major finger-waggers. "Nickelodeon's Big Green Help is all about helping YOU find simple, positive ways to protect the Earth every day," explained the home page.