Roughly a quarter of a billion mostly obsessed gamers are battling it out in “Fortnite.” There’s a darn decent chance kids you know are among them.
A Montreal-based law firm launched a proposed class action in Canada on behalf of two Quebec parents who claim that “Fortnite” publisher Epic Games needs to pay the price for a third-person shooter they allege is as addictive, and potentially harmful, as cocaine.
The firm, Calex Légal, represents plaintiffs who are identified only by their initials, FN and JZ. They are the parents of a 10- and 15-year-old, respectively.
Written in French, the legal action alleges that when a person is engaged in “Fortnite” for a long period, the player’s brain releases the “pleasure hormone, dopamine” and that “Fortnite” was developed by psychologists, statisticians and others over four years “to develop the most addictive game possible,” all so Epic could reap lucrative profits.
An Epic spokesperson said the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.
“The defendants used the same tactics as the creators of slot machines, or variable reward programs, (to ensure) the dependence of its users, (and) the brain being manipulated to always want more,” the suit alleges in a rough translation. “Children are particularly vulnerable to this manipulation since their self-control system in the brain is not developed enough.”
Alessandra Esposito Chartrand, an attorney with Calex Légal, told the CBC in Canada that the suit is based on the same legal basis as a Quebec Superior Court ruling in 2015 that determined that tobacco companies didn’t warn the public about the dangers of smoking. Chartrand said it was Epic’s duty to issues similar warnings around the addictive nature of “Fortnite.