A law blog contributor believes that the Hawaii man suing Lineage II creator NCsoft for making the game so addictive has an uphill battle in order prove his case.
Craig Smallwood sued the game maker after reportedly spending 20,000 hours playing Lineage II between 2004 and 2009. He claimed that NCsoft neglected “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.”
In a column on the blog LegalMatch.com, "Rusty Shackleford" asks if such a case demonstrates the need for tort reform, or if the plaintiff and court are “on to something.”
On Smallwood’s chances:
The plaintiff has an uphill fight, to say the least. There are very few cases where the law has imposed a duty of care on a particular industry because their product is addictive. The most obvious example, of course, is tobacco. The other is casinos – if you’ve been in a casino in the last decade or so, you probably see pamphlets with information about problem gambling, and you can bet that casino owners don’t provide them out of the kindness of their hearts.
On videogames in general:
... as far as I can tell, there isn’t any evidence that video games are particularly addictive, relative to other recreational activities. However, they are the frequent subject of moral panics, and there are tens of millions of people in the U.S. who play video games on a regular basis, and video games are a multibillion dollar industry.
It’s no surprise, then, that stories about video game addiction make the news more frequently than stories about addiction to underwater basket weaving, even if the same percentage of participants in those respective activities become addicted.
Shackleford's opinion on the eventual outcome of the case:
... unless this plaintiff ends up proving at trial that the video game companies knew their products were addictive and/or harmful, and actively hid this from the public a la the tobacco companies (not likely), he should not prevail.