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Addicted Online Game Player Can Sue Creator

An online game player, who admits he became addicted to playing Lineage II, can continue his lawsuit against the game’s creator and distributor for defamation, negligence, gross negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Craig Smallwood contends that the creator and distributor of the game were negligent in failing to inform players that the game could cause them to become psychologically dependent and addicted to playing the game. Smallwood contends as “a direct resulting of using Lineage II and defendants’ acts and omissions, plaintiff has suffered extreme and serious emotional distress and depression, and has been unable to function independently in usual daily activities such as getting up, getting dressed, bathing, or communicating with family and friends.”

Plaintiff also contends he was defamed when the defendants posted statements that plaintiff was barred from the game for being involved in real money transfers. He also contends the creator and distributor committed fraud.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss all counts of the complaint. The trial court dismissed the fraud claims, finding that plaintiff failed to plead fraud with the required specificity. The court also dismissed several other counts because they were barred under a click-wrap user agreement. The court found, however, that plaintiff did state a cause of action for defamation, negligence, gross negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The court also found that damages for the negligence count and the defamation count, which is based on negligence, must be limited to the $65 specified in the click-wrap agreement. However, damages for the claims for gross negligence and negligent infliction of emotion distress, if found to be gross negligence, would not be limited by the click-wrap agreement.

Craig Smallwood v. NCSoft Corporation and NC Interactive, Inc., D.C. Hawaii No. 09-00497 ACK-BMK, issued August 4, 2010.