Law firm prepares to sue Epic Games for Fortnite addiction
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Calex Légal, a Montreal law firm has requested authorization to launch a class-action lawsuit against Epic Games for Fortnite addiction.
According to a CBC report, the parents of two minors aged 15 and 10 plan to sue the Fortnite developer for creating an addictive game and not warning consumers of the fact. The suit is based on a 2015 Quebec Superior Court ruling in which it was stated that three tobacco companies failed to warn their customers about the harmful effects of smoking.
"It's basically the same legal basis. It's very centred on the duty to inform," said Alessandra Esposito Chartrand, an attorney with the firm. She further adds, "Epic Games, when they created Fortnite, for years and years, hired psychologists — they really dug into the human brain and they really made the effort to make it as addictive as possible."
Gaming addiction, if intentionally created by developers, could also lead to gaming disorder which would negatively impact the mental health of gamers. This would open developers up to even more severe repercussions and lawsuits if the connection is ever proven. In 2018, the World Health Organisation classified gaming disorder as a mental health disorder which results in "significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months." Excluding the time frame, this could also be used to describe any form of addiction.
The multi-billion-dollar tobacco lawsuit is currently still in court, with the offending companies seeking creditor protection. With any misstep, Epic Games could easily find themselves in a similar situation. The suit, if successful, could also lead to a lot more against Epic Games and other developers, unless they start taking responsibility for the effects of their games.