I know a little something about video game addiction. While working in Biglaw, I was a respected guild member in Everquest II — before I realized that I was wasting giant amounts of time and had more than enough money to be able to interact with fellow humans in the flesh. In law school I once played 28 seasons of Madden (every game, ten minute quarters, including preseason; I would even make up a draft board). In college I played enough Civilization 2 that I thought it should count for one of my history core requirements. I legitimately fear for my job when Civilization 5 drops one month from now.
I’m serious about the Civ 5 thing. I quit my job at Debevoise just before Civilization 4 was released. I can’t truthfully say that the one thing had nothing at all to do with the other. I’m considering not even buying Civ 5, just because I like writing for you guys. I’m married, for Christ’s sake. A wife, a job, and a new Civ game? Something’s gotta give.
See, I know what I’m getting into when I open the box on certain video games. Hawaii resident Craig Smallwood claims he did not. He’s sued the makers of Lineage II, claiming that the game makers didn’t adequately warn him that its game was addictive.
Shockingly, his lawsuit has survived a motion to dismiss…
Wired reports on Smallwood’s claims:
Craig Smallwood, the plaintiff, claims NCsoft of South Korea should pay unspecified monetary damages because of the addictive nature of the game. Smallwood claims to have played Lineage II for 20,000 hours between 2004 and 2009. Among other things, he alleges he would not have begun playing if he was aware “that he would become addicted to the game.”…
Smallwood, who did not immediately respond for comment, alleged that the company “acted negligently in failing to warn or instruct or adequately warn or instruct plaintiff and other players of Lineage II of its dangerous and defective characteristics, and of the safe and proper method of using the game.”
If you didn’t know you could get addicted to Lineage II, trust me, you would have bought a different game. Addiction, escapism, whatever you want to call it — you were most probably looking for something a little more interesting than your actual reality. You live in the tropical paradise of Hawaii, and you can’t pull yourself away from a computer screen? There’s no way that was the game’s fault.
Furthermore, there’s no way a judge is going to force a video game company to make its games “less addictive.” They’re not running a dram shop. No judge is going to… wait, what?
U.S. District Judge Alan Kay refused to dismiss parts of Smallwood’s complaint this month, possibly clearing the way for a trial. ”In light of plaintiff’s allegations, the court finds that plaintiff has stated a claim for both negligence and gross negligence,” Kay ruled.
Oh come on! It’s Lineage’s fault that people like the game? What do they need to do, put a small-print warning on the video game?
Lineage II is a video game. It is meant for entertainment purposes only. By opening this box, you agree to enter the magical land Lineage II has created to distract you from your crappy-ass life. If you want to maintain social contact with real life family and friends, please put this box down now and go pick up slinky or something, you total loser.
Actually, it’s probably exactly what they need to do. I just hope they don’t have such a label on Civ 5. I’m totally suing them for tortious interference with my employment contract when I get s**t-canned by Christmas.