20,000 hours is an extremely long time to be doing anything – even the basic function of living.  20,000 hours translates into 833 days, which further calculates out to 2.28 years.  it’s enough time complete more than half of a 4-year bachelors program while maintaining a healthy social and family life.  it’s enough time to finish most masters degree programs after graduation.

i think you get my point, it’s enough time to do some serious things.  or play some games instead.  maybe some call of duty, or some madden.  even some world of warcraft, if you’re into that.  sorry.  did i say games? i meant game, singular.  that’s what a guy named craig smallwood did – over a period spanning from 2004 through 2009, the hawaii native spent 20,000 hours playing NCsoft’s lineage II.  lineage II is a sequel to its namesake, one of many online games springing up from the booming south korean market.  featuring (in my opionion) incredible artistic detail, it received mixed reviews from critics.

now let’s put that into perspective – for those 6 years he spent 38% of his life playing lineage II. but that’s not even the most ridiculous part.  he actually sued NCsoft for an undisclosed amount of funds for negligence and gross negligence, for not disclosing the addictive nature of the game.  apparently you see, if he know the game was so addictive, he wouldn’t have started playing in the first place.  i understand that game addiction is possible, as i once noted an acquaintance of mine who routinely skipped physics for guild meetings.  but this particular incident doesn’t smell right to me.  these were the counts smallwood brought forth against NCsoft: (i) misrepresentation/deceit, (ii) unfair and deceptive trade practices, (iii) defamation/libel/slander, (iv) negligence, (v) gross negligence, (vi) intentional infliction of emotional distress, (vii) negligent infliction of emotional distress, and (viii) punitive damages.  but that’s still not the most ridiculous part.  after NCsoft moved for dismissal, alan kay, the presiding US district judge, refused to dismiss parts of the claim – he only dismissed counts i, ii, vi, and viii.  so the counts of negligence, gross negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress, in his judicial opinion, “remain viable.”

now a quick sidebar:  every computer game i’ve ever purchased installs with a nice long end user license agreement (EULA for short) that you should actually read before you complete the install.  i myself play world of warcraft and i sure as hell read mine –  ain’t no one sneakin’ a fast one on ol’ nene.  it’s how i know that blizzard (the warcraft people) isn’t liable for loss of data, goodwill, or work stoppage (love how they threw that one in there) that i may experience.  playing the game means i agreed to that.  all games, including massively multiplayer online games, have a similar clause.  one of the big ones in MMO games is exchanging in-game goods for real world money, which NCsoft ultimately banned smallwood’s account for.

so shouldn’t all of this prevent ridiculousness of this magnitude from moving forward?  someone who claimed an inability to stop playing a game, but fully able to press charges once he broke the rules and wasn’t allowed to play anymore?  direct EULA violations and a banned account in play?  according to the judge on record, the EULA included a “choice of law” clause that indicated that interpretation of the agreement would be governed by texas law.  and guess what texas and hawaii prevent people from doing?  that’s right, they prevent them from waiving the right to claim gross negligence in advance.  well, damn.

let’s be real, this guy is just pissed he got caught breaking the rules and lost his account.  and the present state of law is letting him have his way.

wired has judge kay’s ruling on the counts here, and you can read a good analysis of the case from steve roosa at freedom to tinker.

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About Tushar

Author and creator of Technical Fowl. IT/Tech hero. Jiu Jitsu purple belt. Enjoying the venn diagram intersection of tech, gaming, business, and politics.

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