Monday, December 28, 2015

Fallout 4 So Addicting That Man Sues Bethesda

Inevitably, someone was going to sue a video game company for making a product that is too addicting. I wouldn't say that tobacco was the start of it, but they have a long history of consumers suing for addiction and long-term health issues for using their products. And we all know the power of video games. They can start out with just a few minutes of play that turns into half a day gone in an instant.

A Russian man is currently attempting to sue Bethesda for Fallout 4. Playing the game for a 3 week binge led to the loss of his job and his wife leaving him.

I'd like to point out that a 3 week game time is insane. Even for Fallout 4. You could, you know, attempt to interact with the world and take a break. That's a thing.

This isn't the first time someone has made an effort to sue a company for having a long game time. In 2010, Craig Smallwood from Hawaii went after NCSoft for Lineage II, after wracking up over 20,000 hours of play time. He claimed that he had no idea the game would be so addicting and wouldn't have played otherwise. The case was heard, and portions were dismissed. NCSoft only had to cover Smallwood's legal fees by the end of it.

The Russian plaintiff is seeking 500,000 roubles in damages (roughly $7 grand USD). And his legal team is wanting to use this as a test case for potential future lawsuits against gaming companies for creating addicting products. It even says it in the article - quoted and everything! Clearly they're trying to make money out of this venture with people that can't turn that part of their brain off and understand the importance of moderation.

For Bethesda, they have a pretty strong counter-argument. Hundreds of thousands of people have played the latest Fallout and have not had any disruption to their daily lives. And there is no easy way to measure a game's addictive properties, unlike tobacco or alcohol that has chemicals that produce that reaction in our bodies. Also, unlike many of it's counterparts, Fallout 4 has no micro-transactions. So it's not like the addiction led to overspending. The man liked to play the video game. A lot. That's all this really is.

To those who would argue that it's just $7 grand, give it to the man and be done with it: that's not the point of the case. If this man wins on the grounds of addiction, or if Bethesda pays up without another word, it can encourage people to go on the bad behavior route and try suing other gaming companies for the same thing. I spend 7 years playing Final Fantasy XI. I couldn't tell you how many tens of thousands of hours I packed into that game. But I don't consider myself an addict. I still went to school, picked up 3 degrees, and lived a life outside of Vana'diel. But if this case with the Russian does make it through court and he wins, it will set up a precedent for others to follow - and that's not good for future games.


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