A Canadian law firm is looking to launch a class action lawsuit against Epic Games—the company that brought the popular video game Fortnite into the homes of people worldwide. The lawsuit claims the company had a duty to inform players of the effects the game may have on the brain.
We talked to Dr. Keder at Connecticut Children’s hospital, who said it’s important for parents to teach children when it’s appropriate to play videos games, and when kids should call it quits for the day.
The lawsuit likens the effects of playing Fortnite to cocaine.
“[Video games] are designed in that same way,” said Dr. Robert Keder, a Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician at Connecticut Children’s. “[I]n that same way that certain casinos now include electronic gaming and things like that because we know it hits those pleasure reinforcement cycles in the brain that invite us to want us to go back for more.”
Alessandra Esposito Chartrand, an attorney with the Canadian firm that is filing the lawsuit, alleges Epic Games hired psychologists to dig into the human brain to make FortNite as addictive as possible, but that they didn’t tell players about the risks.
Dr. Keder said parents need to teach their children the appropriate way to play video games.
“So just kind of like alcohol, is something that all children, we hope that when they turn 21, know how to use responsibly,” said Dr. Keder. “Video games and gaming should be something that they also learn to do responsibly.”
The World Health Organization’s international Classification of diseases now includes “gaming disorder”.
Dr. Keder said he has only seen a handful of patients who are truly addicted to video games.
“These are kids who can easily spend upwards of 12 hours a day playing games,” said Dr. Keder. “We see that same kind of withdrawal response when we try to cut them off from it. Like many other use disorders or addiction disorders, we see it gets in the way of school or jobs or social interactions or self-esteem and can come with other feelings of anxiety or depression or other problems.”
The Canadian lawsuit is not the first time Epic Games has been sued over Fortnite. The most recent one involving children has to do with the no-refund policy of in-app purchases. That lawsuit filed in California also alleges the game was deliberately designed to be addictive to compel children playing to make purchases.