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Judge: Video game addiction suit can go on

A federal judge has ruled that a man who says he's addicted to an online video game can proceed with some of his lawsuit against the game's manufacturer.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A Hawaii man who says he is unable to bathe, dress himself or wake up in the day because he is addicted to the video game "Lineage II" may proceed with his suit against the game's South Korean developer, a federal judge has ruled.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser said Craig Smallwood, 51, of Ewa Beach, Oahu, filed a lawsuit against developer NCSoft Corp. last October with several charges including emotional distress and misrepresentation.

Smallwood says he's spent more than 20,000 hours playing the multiplayer, online role-playing game since 2004. The 51-year-old says NCSoft Corp. never warned him about the danger of game addiction.

A Honolulu law firm that represents the company had urged that the case be dismissed, but U.S. District Judge Alan Kay in his Aug. 4 ruling allowed half of the eight counts to continue, the Star-Advertiser said.

Smallwood, who did not return a call for comment to the Star-Advertiser, alleges that the 2003 release "Lineage II" caused "extreme and serious emotional distress and depression."

Hospitalized for 3 weeks
The Star-Advertiser summed up the filings:

Smallwood, who says he is a disabled veteran, also alleges that he has been "unable to function independently in usually daily activities such as getting up, getting dressed, bathing or communicating with family and friends."

He claims to have been hospitalized for three weeks and that he now needs treatment and therapy three times a week because of the game.

In his Aug. 4 decision, Kay dismissed the charges of misrepresentation/deceit, unfair and deceptive trade practices, intentional infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages.

NCSoft still faces counts of defamation, negligence, gross negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Oahu law firm Bronster & Hoshibata, which represents NCSoft in the case, said Smallwood "fails to properly allege facts that would support each element of the emotional distress claim. As such, Smallwood has failed to properly give notice to NCSoft of the claims levied against it."

NCSoft also claims that Smallwood was banned from his game accounts because of his involvement with real money transfers, which is forbidden by the user agreement and rules of conduct of the game.