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More and more people are filing lawsuits against game publishers due to the formation of addiction

Recently, an increasing number of individuals have begun to realize that game publishers are employing unethical business practices. Over the past few months, as many as six lawsuits have been filed against major publishers, and the details of some are truly disturbing.

One recent lawsuit, filed by a woman from Arkansas, US, targeted the publishers of popular games such as Roblox, Fortnite, Call of Duty, and Minecraft, among others. She alleges that developers utilized addictive psychological manipulation to foster an addiction in her son. Despite being only 21 years old, he has been playing these games since he was 12, with detrimental effects on his character. The young man now spends approximately $350 per month on games, dropped out of school, and has been diagnosed with clinical depression. Additionally, he experiences uncontrollable outbursts of anger and rage. The lawsuit claims that the mother was unable to control her son’s passion for video games due to his violent outbursts.

The case file argues that game developers bear sole responsibility for designs that exploit the brain’s reward system to create engagement, addiction, compulsive behavior, and other mental and physical harm. Despite the absence of warnings in user agreements, the publishers’ lawyers moved to dismiss the lawsuit, asserting that game studios cannot be blamed for creating excessively enjoyable video games. Furthermore, the plaintiffs failed to clearly identify which characteristics led to their children’s mental health issues and how.

Nevertheless, similar allegations are present in other claims. For instance, Call of Duty is criticized for rewarding players with the discovery of new weapons and modifications, employing operant conditioning to regulate behavior and induce desired actions in the future, as well as triggering dopamine surges through graphics, sound, and visual effects. Similar features in other games, such as GTA V and Minecraft, have also been highlighted. While these claims may hold some truth, it can be argued from a different perspective that video game businesses are attempting to shift responsibility for children’s poor upbringing onto their parents.

The outcome of these lawsuits will be intriguing, especially considering the rising number of complaints against games, particularly online ones that encourage microtransactions, in recent years.

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