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The Courts Games

NCsoft Sued For Making Lineage II 'Too Addictive' 360

An anonymous reader writes "South Korean MMO game publisher NCsoft is finding itself facing another lawsuit, this time for making games that are 'too addictive.' US Lineage II player Craig Smallwood is suing the publisher for $3 million because he found himself playing Lineage II for 20,000 hours over a period of 5 years. At times, his average play session would persist for over 11 hours, crippling his life and ability to function. A federal judge is allowing the court case to go forward (PDF), stating that the plaintiff has a claim for negligence and gross negligence against the publisher."
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NCsoft Sued For Making Lineage II 'Too Addictive'

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  • by Blackwulf ( 34848 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:22PM (#33315962) Homepage

    I skimmed NCSoft's defense pdf (linked in the Wired article) and it winds up that the guy in question was involved in real-money transfers and had all of his accounts banned from Lineage II in 2009.

    Could that possibly be the REAL reason he's suing?

  • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dlrowcidamon.> on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:51PM (#33316450) Homepage
    Oh give me a break, it's such an echo chamber in here, the usual screeching about how horrible the courts are, without anyone even looking at what the judge actually did. The problem with this country isn't the judicial system, it's the ignorant people who go from zero to outraged in 5 seconds based on a slashdot summary written by some anonymous guy. The judge is ruled by the Federeal Rules of Civil Procedure. Those rules say you can't just throw out a lawsuit AT THE DISMISSAL STAGE simply because you don't think the plaintiff will win. To survive dismissal, all you have to do is draft your complaint in a way that, if the facts you allege are accepted as true, your claim can move on to the next stage. That's it. The judge isn't saying the guy's going to win, just that under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, promulgated by the Supreme Court, as authorized by Congress, he has to let the lawsuit go to the next stage.
  • by wbo ( 1172247 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:56PM (#33316536)
    Ah, but FFXI encourages players to leave themselves logged in even when they aren't playing. FFXI allows players to sell items directly to other players through the bazaar system but a player's bazaar is only open when they are logged in. Many players leave their characters logged in while they are at work or while they are sleeping. As a result, the time reported by the FFXI /playtime command can be deceiving.

    Yes, there is also the auction house system which allows players to sell items while they are not logged in but some items cannot be sold via the auction house and others are almost always sold via the bazaar system.
  • This judge should be removed from his position for letting this laughable shit actually get into the courts

    Funny, the cigarette companies felt the exact same way. And, in fact, I think they made the exact same argument. Hell, I think RAPISTS and CHILD MOLESTORS feel the same way. (And, yes, so do folk who get sued by the RIAA)

    It's a fundamental component of liberty that, if you cannot come to a reasonable settlement with someone between the two of you, you can go to a court of law to have an impartial jury decide on what "reasonable settlement" you'll get.

    The bar for just dismissing a case is VERY high, and should require either a lack of applicable law ("I'm sorry, but Bob has the right to call you stupid to your face"), or an impossibility of the facts ("you're alleging that Bob had UFO's brainwash your wife into leaving you?").

    Companies intentionally getting customers addictive IS established as a tort in the law already (cigarettes!), so if you think this lawsuit should be thrown out you're claiming, what... that it's impossible for a video game to be addictive? People had died from playing video games, and there are thousands of stories of video game addiction. Are you claiming that Lineage II isn't that addictive? That NCSoft shouldn't be liable for the consequences of how they made their game? The first is a point of fact, and the second is a point of law. Both are supposed to be resolved, by a jury and judge in particular, AT TRIAL.

  • by linuxgurugamer ( 917289 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:01PM (#33316594) Homepage

    When you do the following google search:

            craig smallwood honolulu

    it becomes evident that Mr. Smallwood has plenty of time on his hands to file lawsuits. This seems to put the lie to his claim that he is unable to function.

  • by asills ( 230118 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:08PM (#33316654)

    (If thats the case, can't every single smoker in the country sue the cigarette companies for 3 million dollars for every 5 years they smoked, essentially bankrupting that industry?)
    Reply to This

    You must be pretty young or not from the US. The cigarette industry did get sued (quite a few times) and the biggest settlement was from 1998 where they effectively had to pay a bit over $200 billion over the next 25 years. The suit was 46 states versus the tobacco industry. You know all those "The Truth" ads? Those are funded by the tobacco companies.

    The downside to this settlement is it also exempts the industry from further tort lawsuits (although, apparently not, there have been some since). [] []

  • by Jedi Alec ( 258881 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:44PM (#33317066)

    In all fairness, the tobacco industries were sued for:

    - withholding information on and downright lying about the addictiveness of nicotine.
    - withholding information on and downright lying about the health consequences of smoking.
    - adding artificial agents to make the product even more addictive.
    - targeting their product at children while knowing damn well what smoking does to kids.

    Selling an addictive product is one thing. Lying to congress, marketing at those who are considered incompetent(children) is an entirely different ballgame.

  • by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:53PM (#33317190)
    From the court documents (emphasis mine):

    On October 19, 2009, pro se Plaintiff Craig Smallwood (“Plaintiff”) filed a Complaint (“Complaint”) against NCSOFT. Although Plaintiff named only “NCSOFT” in the caption on his original complaint, two NCsoft entities have appeared in this action, Defendants NC Interactive Inc. and NCsoft Corporation, both of whom are named in the Second Amended Complaint (“Defendants”).

    He's representing himself. I guess we can't blame a lawyer for this one ...

  • by SirWhoopass ( 108232 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:05PM (#33317344)

    He's representing himself.

    In fact, he nearly got in trouble over it because used an attorney as ghostwriter for the claims. Something that was not initially disclosed. NCsoft tried to get a dismissal because of it, but the court decided that was too drastic. Instead, he is not being afforded the latitude normally given to a pro se litigant. (pages 14-16 of the PDF linked from the summary).

  • by mshannon78660 ( 1030880 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:27PM (#33317634)
    Agreed - and now, having read the judge's decision (OK, to be honest, I skimmed sections of it) - he actually tossed out about half of the complaint. This motion to dismiss from NC-Soft was strictly on procedural grounds (alleging that the plaintiff hadn't properly worded things, etc.).

    The plaintiff was originally representing himself (and may still be, that was unclear) - and the judge points out that federal courts give a certain amount of leeway to people who represent themselves, as it is assumed that they are at a disadvantage against a legal team (I didn't realize that, I had assumed somewhat the opposite, that courts would be a little harder on someone representing themselves, to make the practice less appealing). But a lawyer helped him amend his complaint (the judge had thrown it out twice, but given the plaintiff an option to amend (because he was representing himself) - after the second time, he apparently had a lawyer help him with it, and she was hauled into court to answer for herself (lawyers are generally not permitted to write documents for the court unless they sign them).

    My guess is that the next thing to happen in this case is that NC-Soft will submit a motion for summary judgement, which will likely be granted, and returned in their favor. Reading between the lines, the judge doesn't seem to think too much of the plaintiff's claims.

Truth is free, but information costs.