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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 grub ( 11606 ) <> on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:01PM (#33315646) Homepage Journal

    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.

    The whole victim-mentality that runs rampant makes my blood boil: "He had bad parenting" "She wasn't potty trained properly" "The breweries make beer taste too good" "I have a disease" blah blah blah fucking excuses blah blah blah.

    Hey Craig Smallwood, take responsibility for your actions; you're not a victim. In actuality your lawsuit paints you as a blatant parasite.
  • by scribblej ( 195445 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:06PM (#33315694)

    I firmly believe that Craig Smallwood is an appropriately named man with no sense of personal responsibility.

    That said, it will be interesting to see how this court case plays out considering there is NO QUESTION that the developers of these games intentionally try to make them as 'addictive' as possible. There are many studies in the industry meant to determine the appropriate level of payout (loot, level gains, etc) required to keep someone interested all the time.

  • by countSudoku() ( 1047544 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:07PM (#33315708) Homepage

    I'm putting Atari on notice for Asteroids Deluxe and Namco for Xevious! I've wasted far too many hours of my younger days on those two games and I want my quarters back! Waaaaah!!1!

    Plus, we should blow up the moon. Thank you.

  • by Kitten Killer ( 766858 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:07PM (#33315710)

    Are they alive? Maybe he can sue them too!

  • by Daddy-Oh ( 306170 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:10PM (#33315746)

    I waste 2,000-3,000 hours *a year* working for my employer. I can't stop myself. I feel that, if I stop, my ability to function in society will end. I must be addicted to work.

    Anyone have the number for a good lawyer? (hmm, is that an oxymoron?)

  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:11PM (#33315760) Journal

    While you bring up a point, I don't think it should matter.

    The immediate question is Should Smallwood get 3 Million dollars for playing a video game for 5 years?

    It doesn't matter how addictive it is. I could develop Alchoholism but I can't sue Bacardi for keeping me in the hole. It's negligent? What the heck is NCsoft supposed to do? Make Lineage II LESS fun?

    I can't believe a judge allowed this case to go forward. On what grounds does developing an addiction allow you to persue a lawsuit? (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?)

  • Yeah, not a whole lot of sympathy from me either on this one. In fact, I'm a little upset this hasn't been thrown out:

    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.

    So what the judge is saying is that if online gaming services don't regulate against lengthy usage of their services by adult citizens they may face lawsuits like this? Hopefully this sets a precedent that such a claim is a load of horse shit and should never be considered in a court of law again. Where does The "Science" of Game Addiction [] draw the line?

    In America, you're suppose to have the freedom to do whatever you want with your time so long as it doesn't impair another person's life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. This includes, for better or for worse, devoting as much time as you see fit to a game. It's called "responsibility" and I'd rather you accept it before the decision is made for you and you never had a choice to begin with (a la China's government regulations for online game play time []).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:14PM (#33315820)

    So when does someone mention personal responsibility?

    I have a solution for him... A coma. This would solve the problem of the lawsuit one, and two the child who brought about this lawsuit would still not have to incur any sort of life responsibilities.

    Or his family could sue him for neglect over the past 5 years.

    This is sad and pathetic, oddly not the most sad or pathetic. humans are pretty screwed aren't we?

  • by SirGeek ( 120712 ) <> on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:14PM (#33315824) Homepage

    What kind of lawyer takes on a case like this?

    One who gets paid regardless of the outcome ?

  • by Ironhandx ( 1762146 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:15PM (#33315850)

    My first thought was "Hmm, I haven't played lineage, apparently I should."

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:16PM (#33315856) Journal

    With our country's "War" on drugs, we have a society which perpetuates the idea that addiction is the fault of the dealer. The drug war is socialism for cops and addicts, it takes money from the general population and uses it to "help" a small class of people who are prone to addiction or can't find employment except as a state thug. If drug addicts can get this socialist "help,"why not other addicts? If drug dealers are to blame for addiction, why not video game publishers?

  • by DurendalMac ( 736637 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:21PM (#33315932)
    And suing game companies will do...what, exactly? Make less games? People are responsible for themselves. If they can't cope with game addiction, then they need help with their lack of self-control. Suing game companies is a ridiculous measure by greedy lawyers and whiny little bastards who can't accept that they're responsible for their own damned behavior.
  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:31PM (#33316092) Journal

    It should get laughed out of court, there should be no question about that at all.

    In every article, summary, post, comment, reply, you can easily interchange 'addictive' with 'entertaining'.

    Now try it, and see how ridiculous it sounds. NCsoft Sued for Making Lineage II 'Too Entertaining'.

  • by dhermann ( 648219 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:38PM (#33316222)

    I get it; you're hard and edgy, and by disagreeing with you, that makes me an emo pansy, but just to put up a decent counterargument...

    What would you say if, during the discovery phase of Craig's claim, e-mails and documents subpoenaed reveal that NCSoft actively created their games with the intent not to entertain, but to entice and entangle? What if they commissioned a psychological research study on how to make their games more addictive, and made major alterations to the gameplay based on the results? What if they made it a primary goal to target certain segments of the population, what you would call the weak-willed and easily manipulated, what others might call aged 18-25 unmarried males?

    What if their next game specifically targeted children, aged 9-15? Is it a parental responsibility to identify each game's level of addictiveness before purchasing it for their child? Isn't there no way to tell until the child has become addicted, and now both parent and child are forced to endure a period of withdrawal?

    I think that this lawsuit is probably frivolous, but I can definitely see a situation where it is not. You certainly can't make the blanket assumption that this guy's claim is worthless before it plays out.

  • Re:"At Times" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:44PM (#33316356)

    Also note that "At times" and "his average play session" are contradictory. It's either "at times his play session would persist over 11 hours" or it's "his average play session would persist over 11 hours" and the "at times" bit would be some number higher than 11 hours (probably 20 hours on occasion).

    Since we can do basic math, we know it's the average play session that was 11 hours. :)

  • by Hydian ( 904114 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:45PM (#33316366)

    Why is it the responsibility of the game companies to police their users for addictive tendencies and then treat them? If those people weren't playing games, they'd be on IRC or Facebook all day or the next episode of hoarders or something. Games are the outlet, not the cause.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:48PM (#33316398) Journal

    It's bullshit, sorry. Back in uni I did get myself into some serious mess because of online gaming addition (NWN, which, while not "massive", is still a multiplayer online RPG). And, in retrospect, I only had myself to blame for this. All the talk about being "psychologically manipulated" is silly - the "manipulation" is hardly above the level of your typical advertising, but you don't see people suing McDonalds for posting ad with a picture of a burger that looked so tasty they just had to go buy it.

  • They are consistently trying to psychologically manipulate you.

    Go shout fire in a crowded theater. That's "psychologically manipulating" the crowd to panic. And then you're liable for any injuries that result.

    Heck, it even works if we go for that mother-of-all libertarian examples, the 2nd amendment. You have an absolute right to own a gun. You have the right to keep it unlocked, loaded, and sitting on your desk in your home office while you're doing whatever. You even have the right to shoot it--but if you hit anything, you're 100% liable for what happens.

    MMOs make their games intentionally addictive. Nothing wrong with that, per se, and there's no reason to formally regulate it. The basic rule of "be responsible for your actions" should apply here, and to the extent that NCSoft making Lineage II addictive caused this guy harm, they should be held accountable. But, he's also an adult, and needs to have at least SOME self-control.

    Thankfully, we have an amazing system to decide how liable NCSoft is. It's called a trial, and the judge is letting that happen.

  • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Friday August 20, 2010 @01:55PM (#33316508) Journal

    And what drug are you on, exactly?? The drug war does NOT help the addict what so ever. The drug war helps maintain the government as the top dealer of all drugs.

    Thus, the quotes around the word "help." Helping the addicts is the justification used, and if that justification works for the drug war (obviously, I don't think it does) then it should work for any other addiction as well. If we "help" one type of addict, we should help them all.

    Especially those addicted to material consumption and consumerism. Why, we allow "pushers" to air advertisements that have been proven to "force" people to desire and purchase things they wouldn't have spent money on otherwise. We need to help these poor addicts of consumerism.

    But of course, that would ruin our economy, now wouldn't it? You see, we have these puritanical ideals ingrained into our culture. Excess is bad. Taking too much, using too much, these are bad according to deep seated tenants of our culture. But our economy requires excess consumption, and so we excuse that type of addiction, but our puritanical ideals demand we punish excess consumption, and so we define certain types of consumption as automatically excessive and punish those in lieu of punishing all excess.

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:01PM (#33316588) Journal

    Lets face it, if McD gets sued because people like their hamburgers so much they can't stop eating, everybody is a target. Just waiting for the first thief to claim the object he stole was simply to tempting.

    On a more serious note, this is exactly what people who claim women cause rape by dressing to sexy are claiming AND have at times got away with.

    Anything to get off facing the consequence of your own actions.

    And I played Lineage II. It is not that good a game. And you got to wonder what the hell he was doing. These game have no real end-game worth speaking off and with 5 years of 11 hours play, my god he must have reached the end game hundreds of times and done what? What could POSSIBLY keep you playing a dumb grind game for SO long.

    No, this guy is just a recluse, a lock-in. He could have been folding paper hats or read soccer scores. The game is not the problem, his own mind is. That is sad, but not NCSofts problem. Just as McD is not to blame if you never excersise and eat a hamburger each and every day.

  • by SirWhoopass ( 108232 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:45PM (#33317072)

    As of now, no lawyer takes on a case like this. The plantiff is pro se (representing himself).

    The court is allowing a portion of the case to go forward. The summary fails to note that the judge dismissed the claims of misrepresentation, unfair trade practices, intentional infliction of emotional harm, and punitive damages.

    The judge is merely determining if there could be a case. The plantiff was hospitalized for three weeks and has on-going therapy. There has been no determination yet that the game is the cause or what liability the game makers may have (the court notes it is limited to levels set in the game user agreement for negligent infliction of emotional distress). In short, the guy has been injured by "something". He says it was the game, and he'll get his day in court to try and make that claim.

    It's funny how so many /.'ers complain about people who believe the outrageous stories from [Glenn Beck, Fox New, whatever]. This is pretty much the same thing. The actual story is only about 1/10 what is implied in the headline, but now we have a forum full of people screaming about it

  • by udoschuermann ( 158146 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @04:05PM (#33318080) Homepage

    Yes, if they marketed the game to children, secretly added extra-cute stuff in there that nobody could find out about until they played it for a while themselves, scoured facebook for their friends and hammered them with messages ("hey, your friend's playing this, and so should you!"), and then publicly lied about all of it, and "proved" through fake studies that there's nothing remotely addicting about the game at all.

    Bottom line, the tobacco industry is/was a bunch of lying drug peddlers without a conscience. But if NCSoft doesn't get this lawsuit laughed out of court (with court costs hung on the idjet who file the suit), then 12 million lawsuits might next get filed against Blizzard, for a grand total of 36 trillion dollars in damages.


"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb