A Montreal-based law firm launched a proposed class action on behalf of two Quebec parents who claim that Epic Games’ ”Fortnite is as addictive, and potentially harmful, as cocaine.
According to USA Today, Calex Légal represents the plaintiffs who are identified only by their initials, FN and JZ. The two share two children, 10 and 15-years-old, who are avid fans of the game.
Written in French, the legal action alleges that when a person is engaged in “Fortnite” for a long period, the player’s brain releases the “pleasure hormone, dopamine” and that “Fortnite” was developed by psychologists, statisticians, and others over four years “to develop the most addictive game possible,” so that Epic Games could be rewarded financially, reports say.
Although “Fortnite” is free to play, gamers spend tons of real money purchasing the in-game currency, V-Bucks, which is used for dances, skins, and custom outfits for their virtual alter-egos.
Roughly translated, the suit alleges, “the defendants used the same tactics as the creators of slot machines, or variable reward programs, [to ensure] the dependence of its users, [and] the brain being manipulated to always want more.” Continuing, “children are particularly vulnerable to this manipulation since their self-control system in the brain is not developed enough.”
Alessandra Esposito Chartrand, an attorney with Calex Légal, told the CBC in Canada that the suit is based on the same legal basis as a Quebec Superior Court ruling in 2015 that determined that tobacco companies didn’t warn the public about the dangers of smoking, according to the report. Chartrand said it was Epic’s duty to issues similar warnings around the addictive nature of “Fortnite.”
In a Common Sense/Survey Monkey poll released last December, nearly one in five parents found it at least moderately difficult to get their kids off “Fortnite,” and about a quarter stated they were concerned about how much time their kid spend playing the game.
Just last year, the World Health Organization classified “gaming disorder” as a diagnosable condition; from there, they provided mental health professionals a basis for setting up treatment and identifying risks for addictive behavior.
According to reports, Epic has 30 days to respond to the legal action. A spokesperson for Epic Games said the company would not make any comments on the on-going suit.