Lineage II addict sues game maker (LoL)

Original article on wired.com:  http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/08/lineage11-addiction/

Some people have too much fun. But for some people, too much fun disrupts their lifestyle and for one Lineage II player, all that fun has led to a lawsuit against the popular mmorpg‘s creators.

Give me a friggin’ break.  You are to blame for your own addiction

Remember those messages on arcade machines back in the old days that flashed, “Play Responsibly” and “Real Players Don’t Use Drugs”?  Well, it looks like some players (not some, a lot) have tossed responsibility out the window because games have become their new drug!

Just like in any situation where an individual or group tries to place the source of video gaming evils solely on the game providers without considering themselves as a possible cause and solution, this signifies just how dumb some people can be when they try to get political about games.

A couple examples:

  1. Violent games, sexy games, potty-mouth games and others have angered parents for corrupting their kids.
  2. Games reduce academic and professional productivity, decrease attention spans, thwart creativity and turn players into zombies

For both examples 1 and 2, the cause and solution lies in the hands of the parents of players or players themselves.  The have tried to fight it, causing BS interest groups like the ESRB to impose age-specific ratings on games, and other futile measures.  But how can you implement a safeguard against gaming addiction?  This is not like the war on drugs where you educate young people about the dangers of drug use/abuse and simultaneous stab at the heart of drug trafficking in society.  Video games have become too much of a part of culture, having grown beyond the subculture they once were associated with in the days of Pac-Man and Frogger, to be affected by a bunch of soccer moms and unoriginal lawmakers.

What are you going to do? Sit a bunch of former gaming addicts in front of assemblies of junior high students nationwide and have them pour out their hearts about how gaming ruined their lives?

Of course, there have been some unspeakable tragedies related to gaming that have come to light in recent years that have garnered attention — players committing suicide or homicide over in-game spats, players neglecting their children to raise virtual pets, etc.

But this latest lawsuit by a guy who could have easily saved himself thousands if not more in fees for bringing such a trivial issue before a judge baffles the mind and only adds fuel to the fire that will soon spread to hundreds of households with parents too blindsided by the fact that game makers do not make games addictive any more than hip-hop rappers make suburban daddy’s girls into skanky holla-back girls.

How do you hurt a Frankenstein?  Attack his wallet.

But if games, like any popcultural Frankenstein, are so woven into our minds, then can you stop them at any social or political level?  Bringing them to light only feeds publicity and exposure to future potential addicts, and trying to fight them with policy only makes gamers more daring to play them (not to mention that industry elites will find loop holes and detours around regulations).

What about economics?

Video game hardware and software prices have risen and fallen over the decades, and have settled into a position of being more affordable (accessible) than ever, especially to young people.  Social games, console, PC, and God forbid free mmorpg and online games are not that expensive.  You’ll probably spend more on 4 years worth of university library late-fees than 4 years of WOW subscriptions.

*”Accessible” written in parentheses because what some gamers won’t buy, they’ll get from alternate sources (emulators, pirate copies, etc.)

Perhaps the fault of today’s current cheap gaming prices lies with the guys who started it all.  Gaming industry leaders had no way of knowing games would go so big in such a short amount of time (vs. other industries).  So, they might have inaccurately valued the inputs affecting pricing — investment and development of hardware/software, console manufacturing and shipping, marketing, repair, customer service, Brand value, God this list is long — and guesstimated the final selling price which was and perhaps still is grossly undervalued.  Granted, gaming technology (especially consoles) may have been overvalued in the past (ahem, Sega Saturn launch price…), but today, games and related technology are selling at prices that no longer (if ever) represent an overwhelming impact on a family or individual’s livelihood. Buying a game today doesn’t necessarily take food off the table, but now that we have a much stronger purchasing power of non-adults thanks to increases in standards of living, decreases in the cost of living in gaming affluent countries, combined with the surge in f2p games on the Internet, the gaming industry really has turned the world in which we live into a gamer’s paradise.

Out with it! How do you make gamers stop playing?

What might shut the gates to this paradise is a re-evaluation of game pricing once a reconsideration of the value of inputs used in generating gaming goods undergoes an overhaul.  Making games too expensive to consume could kill the addiction before it manifests.  Parents can easily justify not buying a game due to a household budget, rather than ludicrously say, “because video games make you stupid and are of the devil.” Yeah, that’ll really discourage kids when all their classmates get the latest HALO for Christmas.

One last money related solution would be to return to the 1-coin, 1-play system as was the norm in video arcades.  This has come back in a way, via PC bangs (PC gaming cafes) charging by the hour, or in the home under the guise of “free mmorpg” and “free 2 play” with optional micropayment virtual item malls, etc.  Take this a step further and implement on all games (all genres) a $1.00 per play, 75 cents to continue after 10 minutes or so, in addition to optional virtual items, and ascending subscription grades.  If the average price of a game is $60 and you enjoy that game about 13-18 hours until you beat it or grow tired of it, then the resulting amount paid would be about $59.50 – $82.00.  For games that end after a certain number of levels are cleared, or the story is finished, this isn’t too unreasonable if pricing is optimized to allow rebates, bonus items, cheap-play campaigns, etc.  For the games that go on (virtually) forever like mmos, this may be enough to weed out the addicts without the disposable income to play for long periods and force them to be more “productive” and aspire to reach a level in real life where they can enjoy longer play with more money.

Will a prolonged global recession help curtail gaming addiction?

Having suggested that economics might discourage gamers, we are currently living in a time of recession, which would then suggest that game addiction can be stymied.  No way.  Have game addiction lawsuits come up during economic booms? Not to my memory.  The article about the game addiction suit on wired.com was release only recently and also “only recently”, headlines across news sites released not-so-optimistic forecasts of economic recovery.

What about other forms of addiction?

In Japan, over the past couple years there have been talk referring to a price increase on tobacco.  Japan, in addition to its gigantic games industry, has one of the heaviest smoking populations of developed countries (just wiki this and look for the infographic on smoking).  The price I was told today is about 320 JPY per pack of cigarettes.  I was also told today that a new price to take effect later this year will increase the price almost 40%, bringing some brands to 420-440 JPY per pack.  Will this stop smoking? God no.  The new price peaks are still not enough to impact a smoker’s wallet enough to warrant a rapid halt to cigarette consumption and the fact that cigarettes are both mentally and physically addiction, I doubt that such a modest price increase would result in any robust evidence of (cigarette) quitting rates.

Back to the subject matter

Okay, so the wire.com article was about a grown man plagued by gaming.  Since when did this turn into a diatribe about parents, smokes and economics?  I still think the issues of legal actions against gaming addiction, etc. to be ridiculous, but at the same time, they really do tell us about what kind of video gaming society we are becoming.  Spotting the signs early, and generating discussion on such issues can lead to hopefully a better future for both the gaming industry and the consumer.  But let’s face it, the gaming industry is the winner in any situation: raising prices result in higher revenue per unit sold, lawsuits create free marketing for defendants, parents bitching about gaming feeds the desire to play, educating people about game addiction woes get them interested in playing.

I’d like to hear a plan for a solid solution to all of this.  I don’t want to see ever again an article about a lazy doofus with no self control over a game.  I don’t want to meet another pre-teen who’s mother won’t allow him/her to play games because God says so.

That’s enough for today.

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~ by Red 5 Standing By on August 27, 2010.

8 Responses to “Lineage II addict sues game maker (LoL)”

  1. You are an interesting writer!

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