“The CBC is reporting that a class action lawsuit against Epic Games over Fortnite being addictive to children will go ahead,” writes Slashdot reader lowvisioncomputing. From the report: The suit was first brought to the courts in 2019 by three Quebec parents who claimed that Fortnite was designed to addict its users, many of them children, to the game. According to the original filing, the plaintiffs say their children exhibited troubling behaviors, including not sleeping, not eating, not showering and no longer socializing with their peers. According to the filing, one of the children was diagnosed with an addiction by an on-call doctor at a Quebec clinic, or CLSC, in the Lower St. Lawrence region. It also notes that the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized addictive gaming disorder as a disease in 2018.
Jean-Philippe Caron, one of the CaLex Legal lawyers working on the suit, said the case isn’t unlike a 2015 Quebec Superior Court ruling that found tobacco companies didn’t warn their customers about the dangers of smoking. “[The game] has design patterns that make sure to always encourage player engagement. You have to understand that children’s prefrontal cortices are still developing so that could be part of the explanation for why this game is particularly harmful,” he said. The class action will also discuss in-game purchases, namely cosmetic items — known as skins — and the game’s Battle Pass system, which offers expanded rewards as players level up.
The children allegedly spent excessive amounts of money on V-Bucks — an in-game currency users buy with real money — which can be exchanged for skins or used to unlock the Battle Pass. One of the children reportedly spent over $6,000 on skins, while another spent $600 on V-Bucks — items Superior Court Judge Sylvain Lussier described as “without any tangible value.” That may run afoul of Article 1406 of Quebec’s civil code, where “serious disproportion between the prestations of the parties” — meaning, the obligation to provide something in turn — “creates a presumption of exploitation.”