26 August 2010

From the What’s The World Coming To File

Judge Alan Kay has refused to dismiss parts of Craig Smallwood’s lawsuit against NCsoft. It seems that NCsoft’s game Lineage II is allegedly addictive. Smallwood played the game for over 20,000 hours from 2004 to 2009. Judge Kay should have dismissed the entire suit.

For whatever NCsoft may or may not have done, how was Smallwood making a living? Spending 9 hours a day for nearly six years playing a video game leaves little time for a job and earning money to pay the rent and utility bills. Were family members aiding him in his destructive behavior instead of helping him get his life on track? Does he live alone and on welfare? If that is the case the State of Hawaii is as much as fault for his ‘addiction’ as NCsoft would be since they enabled him to play.

Mr. Smallwood didn’t seem to realize he had an addiction until his account was closed on him. He seemed to believe that this was so that he could get hooked on another one of their games, but in their response to the suit NCsoft alleged that Craig was involved in real money transfers that were specifically forbidden in the User Agreement and Code of Conduct for the game. (page 7 of Defendant’s Answer)

If this case goes through and is successful what will we see next? Will there be a class-action lawsuit by the viewers of Lost who claim they became addicted to the show and spent hours every week watching the show and spending time on internet forums discussing it? Will the composers of annoying commercial jingles that get stuck in your head be brought before international war-crimes tribunals on charges of torture?

For a period of five years I’ve played City of Heroes off-and-on. While that game could be fun at times most of the time it could grow very boring as the missions and hunting became a grind and more like work than entertainment. When I finally reached 50th level with one of my characters I checked and discovered that I had spent a little over 250 hours playing that character. That was enough for me to help me stop playing. I can’t imagine playing any game for over 20,000 hours. There isn’t enough content in a typical game to keep me entertained for even 250 hours; how can someone become addicted to a stupid game?

Anyway, good luck to NCsoft on this one. And good luck to Craig, hopefully he can make some changes to improve his life; realizing you have an addiction is the first step to overcoming it. A change in personality and habits is required for that, not a big check.

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