[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
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
"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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