Have you heard of Fortnite? With hundreds of millions of fans, there is a very good chance that you have heard of this phenomenon whether you have ever touched a game controller in your life or not. The game is free to play, which is one of the reasons that it is as popular as it is today. However, even though you do not need to spend any money to download and play the game, it is filled with microtransactions. People can spend real money to buy the in-game currency, called V-Bucks, which they can then spend on in-game dances, character skins, and outfits.
Is Fortnite Dangerous?
While it might all seem like fun and games, some people are not happy about the way that Fortnite has seemingly taken over the lives of the players. In fact, a law firm called Calex Legal based out of Montreal is launching a class-action suit in Canada on the behalf of two parents who have claimed that the game is addictive and could be as dangerous as cocaine. The parents have only had their initials given in the suit. The children in question are a 10-year-old and a 15-year-old.
The suit claims that when someone plays the game for a long period, their brain starts to release the hormone dopamine, which is related to pleasures. They also say that the game was developed over a period of four years by statisticians, psychologists, and game developers as a means to create a game that was purposefully addictive. This was done so that the developer of the games, Epic Games, would be able to earn as much profit as possible. Of course, making a profit is the goal for most businesses.
The plaintiffs in the case say that the defendants are using tactics such as variable reward programs that manipulate the brain to continue to want more of the game and the rewards it offers the more they play. They say that because children do not have the same amount of self-control as adults, they are more vulnerable to these types of games.
What Will Happen with the Lawsuit?
Video games are certainly no strangers to lawsuits. There have been and will continue to be lawsuits brought against companies for a wide variety of reasons. However, given the popularity of Fortnite, and the fact that there are so many children and young adults playing whose lives revolve around it, the outcome will certainly be interesting, whatever it might be.
Interestingly, the World Health Organization classified gaming disorder as an actual diagnosable condition. This allows mental health professionals to provide treatment for the condition, and to start to find and identify risks that could be associated with it. It is also common knowledge that many parents have trouble getting their kids to stop playing the game, and many were concerned with just how much time their children were playing Fortnite.
Of course, ultimately, the parents do still have control over what their children play, watch, or read online.
This is not the first time that Epic Games has been a part of a class-action lawsuit. Some were concerned that Fortnite does not have any controls that would provide the parents with control over what purchases are made in the game, and a federal case from California was brought against them in June of 2019.
Epic Games has a policy of not responding to allegations during pending litigation, but it will be very interesting to see if the lawsuits are successful and what types of changes this might bring to the world of Fortnite.