Calex Légal, a law firm based in Montreal, has filed a class action lawsuit against Epic Games, the publisher of the immensely popular battle royale title Fortnite. The suit was filed after the firm was hired by two parents who allege that their child, aged 10 and 15, had become addicted to the game.

Fortnite Battle Royale is a player-versus-player battle royale game for up to 100 players, allowing one to play alone, in a duo, or in a squad. Weaponless players airdrop from a “Battle Bus” that crosses the game’s map. When they land, they must scavenge for weapons, items, resources, and even vehicles while trying to stay alive and attack other players, eliminating them. Over the course of a round, the safe area of the map shrinks down in size due to an incoming storm; players outside that safe area take damage and can be eliminated if they fail to quickly evacuate. This forces remaining players into tighter spaces and encourages player encounters. The last player, duo, or squad remaining is the winner.

Fortnite Battle Royale has been extremely successful with over 10 million players during its first two weeks of release, and leading Epic to create separate teams to continue the Fortnite Battle Royale development apart from the “Save the World” mode. Revenue from Fortnite Battle Royale during the first half of 2018 had been estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars per month, with total 2018 revenue estimated at $2.4 billion by analysis firm SuperData Research.

Calex Legal is seeking a fine for Epic Games, as well as a refund of all in game purchases that were made by the children, with interest. The parents are alleging that Fortnite has ruined their children’s lives by developing an addicting game that deliberately targets children. Stating the kids regularly stay up until the early ours of the morning, and have played 8800 matches over the course of the last year between them. As well as spending between 900 and 1000 Canadian dollars on in-game purchases.

Video Game addiction

While the World Health Organization has added “gaming disorder” to its 2018 medical reference,”International Classification of Diseases”, the American Psychiatry Association has not added any such disorder or addiction to DSM-5. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the handbook used by health care professionals in the United States and much of the world as the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders

While there have been some extreme cases of behavior directly linked to gaming, such as a South Korean man marathon gaming until he suffered heart failure related to exhaustion, the vast majority of individuals are able to regulate themselves.

Personal Responsibility and Gaming: Where do we draw the line?

In the instance of the Canadian Law Suit, I have to ask. why weren’t the parents………….parenting? I spend a lot of time gaming. More than most adults probably. However, I can set down the controller. I can turn off the desktop and get things done.

As adults, and even more so as parents, we need to set and enforce these boundaries. Blaming video games for all of our problems; violence, aggression, problems in school or work, is infantile. We should be making reasonable efforts to provide age appropriate gaming experiences. Whether that be following ESRB guidelines which are printed on the case of every title, or supervising and limited access to games.

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