A Canadian judge has approved a class action lawsuit against Epic Games over the alleged addictive qualities of Fortnite. As reported by the Independent, three Quebec parents claimed “their children would become so engrossed in the game that they would forgo sleeping, eating and showering.” The parents’ lawsuit argues that Fortnite was intentionally designed to be highly addictive and has negative long-term effects on children.
The judge presiding over the case explained that the case would proceed because “the court concludes that there is a serious issue to be argued, supported by sufficient and specific allegations as to the existence of risks or even dangers arising from the use of Fortnite does not appear frivolous or manifestly ill-founded.” However, they refuted that the game was intentionally designed to be addictive and said that “the court finds that there is no evidence for these allegations of the deliberate creation of an addictive game. This does not exclude the possibility that the game is in fact addictive and that its designer and distributor are presumed to know it.”
The case was originally filed in 2019 with the plaintiffs arguing that their children, age 10 and 15, had become addicted to Fortnite and spent hundreds of dollars on the game. The law firm working on their behalf used the World Health Organization’s “gaming disorder” as the basis for their argument, which the WHO’s website describes as “characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.” Notably, this definition does not use the word addiction, which is used in the firm’s legal argument.
Epic Games pushed back on this portrayal of their game, saying that videogame dependence isn’t a recognized condition in Quebec and that the American Psychiatric Association said there was not enough evidence to classify this as a unique mental disorder. Epic also said they will “fight this in court.”