Court allows video gamer to argue he is addicted to Lineage II

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Court allows video gamer to argue he is addicted to Lineage II

Fri Aug 20, 2010 @ 11:16AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Lineage2c A federal judge in Hawaii is allowing a video gamer to tell a jury about the severe withdrawal he suffered after being booted from the MMORP game Lineage II.

Craig Smallwood, representing himself in court, sued NCSoft, arguing that its medieval virtual world was so addictive that he spent three weeks in a hospital and needed treatment and therapy three times a week after he could no longer play it. 

After playing Lineage II for over 20,000 hours in a five year time period, Smallwood was banned from the game for allegedly engaging in an elaborate scheme to create real money transfers. Smallwood denies doing so, and says the defendant didn't enforce rules that were fair for all game-players.

Smallwood filed a lawsuit against NCSoft, saying the the company “acted negligently in failing 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.”

His complaint was then dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. But Smallwood kept at it, amending his complaint until finally, earlier this month, Hawaii federal judge Alan Kay denied NCSoft's attempts to toss the legal action. 

Smallwood won't get to press claims that NCSoft conducted misrepresentation, deceit, unfair business practices or intentional infliction of emotional distress. Those have once again been dismissed. But the man's claims of defamation, gross negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress have survived.

Here's Judge Kay's 49-page ruling analyzing the game's user agreement and the duties and care owed by game publishers to game-players. And here's NCSoft's answer to Smallwood's claims filed on Wednesday, which indicates that the publisher intends to argue that proper disclaimers were made, Smallwood knew the risks and contributed to his own symptoms.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to

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