[MUD-Dev] Everquest blamed for suicide

Talies the Wanderer snicker at pinkpig.com
Tue Apr 2 15:44:00 New Zealand Daylight Time 2002


This article is too long to repost here, so I'll just quote a few
relevant paragraphs.  This is incredibly reminiscent of the D&D
outburst a while ago.

  Shawn Woolley loved an online computer game so much that he
  played it just minutes before his suicide... His mother blames the
  game for her son's suicide... "It's like any other addiction,"
  Elizabeth Woolley said last week. "Either you die, go insane or
  you quit. My son died."... Woolley has tried tracing her son's
  EverQuest identity to discover what might have pushed him over the
  edge. Sony Online cites its privacy policy in refusing to unlock
  the secrets held in her son's account.


  Jay Parker, a chemical dependency counselor and co-founder of
  Internet/Computer Addiction Services in Redmond, Wash., said
  Woolley's mental health problems put him in a category of people
  more likely to be at risk of getting addicted to online games.
  Parker said people who are isolated, prone to boredom, lonely or
  sexually anorexic are much more susceptible to becoming addicted
  to online games. Having low self-esteem or poor body image are
  also important factors, he said.  "The manufacturer of EverQuest
  purposely made it in such a way that it is more intriguing to the
  addict," Parker said. "It could be created in a less addictive
  way, but (that) would be the difference between powdered cocaine
  and crack cocaine.


  Parker doesn't make the narcotics analogy lightly. One client - a
  21-year-old college student - stopped going to class within eight
  weeks after he started playing EverQuest his senior year.  After
  playing the game for 36 hours straight, he had a psychotic break
  because of sleep deprivation, Parker said.


  He thought the characters had come out of the game and were
  chasing him," Parker said. "He was running through his
  neighborhood having hallucinations. I can't think of a drug he
  could have taken where he would have disintegrated in 15 weeks."


  "I've seen a lot of wreckage because of EverQuest," Parker
  said. "But they are all the same. It's like cigarettes. They need
  to come with a warning label. 'Warning, extensive playing could be
  hazardous to your health.' " Warning labels are exactly what Jack
  Thompson, a Miami attorney and vocal critic of the entertainment
  industry, wants to result from a lawsuit he plans to file against
  Sony Online Entertainment for Elizabeth Woolley.  "We're trying to
  whack them with a verdict significantly large so that they, out of
  fiscal self-interest, will put warning labels on," he said. "We're
  trying to get them to act responsibly. They know this is an
  addictive game.


  "I am sure we are going to find things akin to the tobacco
  industry memos where they say nicotine is addictive," he
  said. "There is a possibility of a class-action lawsuit."

  John Kircher, a professor at Marquette University Law School and
  expert in personal injury law, said a negligence action might be
  won if plaintiffs could successfully argue EverQuest's publishers
  "should have foreseen an unreasonable risk of harm, that people
  could potentially hurt themselves.  "Then there is the issue of
  First Amendment rights," Kircher said. "Does the First Amendment
  right trump the rights of the plaintiff? If the Internet is a form
  of publication . . . there is a balance the courts try to strike,
  and it's not an easy question."


  Sony Online Entertainment declined to comment for this story, but
  EverQuest fans say the game is a fun diversion that is much better
  than watching television."

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