A 28-year-old Russian gamer is suing Bethesda Softworks, the makers of hit game Fallout 4, for the loss of his wife and his job. The man from Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, says that he found out about the game through an online advertisement and downloaded it intending to play it for a few evenings. In what seems to be a bit of a publicity coup for Bethesda, the claimant found himself suddenly and completely addicted by the compulsive storytelling of the game. According to RT, upon emerging from Vault 111 and beginning to explore the wasteland, the Russian gamer found himself unable to focus on anything other than Fallout 4.
The man claims he neglected his family and friends, presumably in favor of Dogmeat.
[Image via Bethesda]Over a period of three weeks, the claimant claims that he was so addicted to Fallout 4 that he played it to the exclusion of everything else in his life. He ignored his friends and began a period of absenteeism from his work, resulting in the loss of his job. The Russian gamer also had a wife and children who he claims he neglected as a result of his Fallout 4 addiction. Apparently, this neglect became so bad that his wife filed for divorce and left him, causing him to retreat further into the game. It is unclear whether his wife leaving him was a result of Fallout 4, or whether his gaming addiction represented a kind of “final straw,” precipitating a separation that was already being contemplated.
The plaintiff claims that the lack of a health warning on Fallout 4’s packaging led to his addiction.
[Image via Bethesda]The man is asking for the modest sum of 500,000 roubles, which works out at approximately $7,050. While not a huge sum of money, it should be noted that the Russian tort system is significantly different to the American one. The Russian gamer’s argument is that Bethesda should have put some kind of health warning on the packaging and marketing materials of Fallout 4. He alleges that if he had been aware of the potential for addiction, he would not have bought the game.
“If I knew that this game could have become so addictive, I would have become a lot more wary of it. I would not have bought it, or I would have left it until I was on holiday or until the New Year holidays.”
At time of writing, the case is only at the filing stage and there is no indication, as yet, whether it will actually make it to court. Should the case actually be heard, it will represent something of a legal landmark for Russia, as there has never been a case containing elements such as these. The law firm representing the alleged Fallout 4 addict have stated that they have no firm expectations, merely saying that they are interested to see how far the case will go.
There is, surprisingly, an international precedent for this case. Back in 2010, Hawaiian man Craig Smallwood brought a case against the South Korean company NCsoft, makers of the popular Lineage II. Smallwood had logged over 20,000 hours of gameplay, and claimed that this had caused him severe depression and anxiety. Surprisingly, a Federal judge agreed to hear the case, and then ordered NCsoft to pay Mr Smallwood’s costs, as his lawsuit had been pursued over a six month period.
There is growing awareness that gaming addiction might be a serious problem after all.
[Image via Bethesda Softworks]While many believe gaming addiction to be a small, or even an imaginary problem, there is a steadily accumulating body of evidence to suggest that it is a growing concern. There are even occasional reports of deaths resulting from gaming, such as Shanghai man, Wu Tai, who died after a mammoth 19-hour session of World of Warcraft. The fact that game developers openly declare that they are deliberately creating addictive products will probably adversely affect the plaintiff’s case, which rests on not being aware of the potential addictiveness of Fallout 4.
[Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images]