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Gamer suing for gaming addiction

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Sunday September 5, 2010 )

Something that may be of interest and concern to online games companies – a man in Hawaii is suing a provider for his addiction to their online game.

According to a report on Ecommerce Times, the plaintiff says creators of the MMPORG “Lineage II” should be held legally responsible for his condition since it did not provide any warning that it could be addictive.

His claims against the game publisher include negligence and infliction of emotional distress. Charges of unfair and deceptive trade practices have been dismissed, but the case is going ahead in relation to other claims.

While to some gaming companies this suit may seem laughable, it won’t be so funny if the decision is in favor of the plaintiff as it could spark a series of other suits.

Maybe online gaming services need to include the same sorts of disclaimers we have in Australia on ads for alcohol, something like “Game Responsibly” at the bottom of each page and in the terms of service.

As an aside, and besides the concept of personal responsibility, I’m a little concerned about the way the word “addiction” is used these days.

I am a recovered/recovering alcoholic and drug addict (~14 years clean and sober). My understanding of addiction is that it is two pronged – physical compulsion coupled with mental obsession and additionally, a substance is involved. Addiction is a disease, albeit one sparked by the user.

I feel a lot of these new “addictions” are only comprised of one element – mental obsession. The physical compulsion is an offshoot of that mental obsession rather than as a stand-alone set of symptoms.

Not to take the seriousness of mental obsession based dependence lightly, the physical withdrawal symptoms of addiction to substances are shocking and in some instances (such as alcohol withdrawal) can and do kill.

While I believe that people suffering from dependence issues in relation to gaming, or even just the Internet generally, do require help and support, lets not get it confused with substance addiction. Alcohol abuse has killed far more people than an online game ever will and I feel the lumping in of these online-age issues under the same umbrella somewhat trivializes the disease of alcoholism.


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