Have you seen this?
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.
Now clearkly, the internet world is awash with people saying “what a dumbass, its not like they forced him to play!” and “thats like suing mcdonalds for being fat”. But it may not be…
Is he addicted? This is 10 hours a day for 5 years. That’s pretty heavy usage, when holding down a job too. That’s getting home at 6pm, and playing to 4AM every day 365 days a year (ok, more time available on weekends, but still…).you bet he is. But the big question is are NCSoft to blame? People talk in glowing terms about ‘addicting gameplay’ (grates teeth… we say ADDICTIVE), it would be a brave defence lawyer that tried to argue that making a game addictive was not a core element of MMO design. The entire business model relies on you coming back every month to pay again.
Ok, so that’s fair enough, making a product good enough to encourage replay is fine, hardly criminal. However there is something magical about an MMO that *may* mean that courts take this stuff seriously:
They know how addicted he is.
They know in exact detail that account X logs on 10 hours a day for 5 years**. If it’s a micro-payment MMO, then KNOW that one guy has spend >$50,0000 a year (or whatever). This is totally different to the store that sells alcohol to an alcoholic for cash, they don’t know how much he drinks.
I don’t think the case has merit, and I agree with a lot of the criticism of it, but in these days where companies show adverts to test-subjects inside MRI scanners, and people get better every year at crafting more elegant skinner-boxes dressed up as facebook games, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see judges mandate that all MMO games need to have systems in place to prevent people getting this bad. The industry will complain it’s being held to a higher standard than alcohol or other addictive pruchases, btu I suspect the court system will argue that only the games industry has the technical capability to regulate against true addiction. Addiction isn’t a topic for mockery. I’ve known people addicted to heroin (scary stuff), I’ve known people who used to smoke now and then, casually, and clearly just didn’t have whatever gene makes nicotine addictive. I’ve drunk a hell of a lot in my youth, but bounced out of it before sliding into addiction, as various friends did. Something that you personally can take or leave is another persons crippling addiction, and we shouldn’t dismiss them as idiots because we don’t share the exact genetic makeup that gives us that same vulnerability.
It’s an interesting story to follow, in any case.
(don’t yell at me. I’m not saying that NCSoft are guilty, or the guy should win. I’m saying there are real issues here, and the industry needs to look at them sensibly)
**I know it could be a shared account, but it could still raise a flag. If its the same character being used, without logging in or out, it’s pretty safe to say the same person is behind the keyboard.