American Online Gamer Sues NCsoft for Internet Addiction

American Online Gamer Sues NCsoft for Internet Addiction

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An online gamer from Hawaii is suing NCsoft, a Korean game giant, claiming he is addicted to Lineage II, a popular role-playing game launched by the company in 2003.

According to recent reports, Craig Smallwood said he played the game for 20,000 hours from 2004 to 2009 and thus was “unable to function independently in usual daily activities.”

He argued he would not have begun playing if he was aware that he would become addicted and that NCsoft should pay monetary damages.

An official with NCsoft confirmed that a suit has been filed and said the company is “taking legal steps.”

Addiction to online games has emerged as a major social problem in Korea, prompting government officials to announce measures to combat online overindulgence. In March, a young couple was arrested for allowing their baby daughter to starve to death while they played online games at Internet cafes.

Media reports have said that NCsoft sought to dismiss the Smallwood suit, but U.S. District Court Judge Alan Kay decided on Aug. 4 to proceed, saying “the court finds the plaintiff has stated a claim for both negligence and gross negligence.”

According to NCsoft, Lineage posts notices every hour encouraging users to take a break.

Korean games account for half the exports of Korean cultural products. Exports of games are expected to total $1.5 billion this year, 10 times more than the $130 million posted in 2001.

Korean games account for half the exports of Korean cultural products. Exports of games are expected to total $1.5 billion this year, 10 times more than the $130 million posted in 2001.