game distributor sued over boy’s suicide

12 05 2006

In the news today…  A 13-year-old Chinese boy jumped to his death from a tall building after playing one of the popular “Warcraft” online games for 36 hours straight.  He left a note saying he wanted “to join the heroes of the game he worshipped”.  It’s really sad he got confused and thought the game was based on reality.  His parents are suing a company that distributes the game, for $12,500.

But I wonder about something that isn’t mentioned in the news article : why didn’t the parents notice the problem?  Did they not see that he was playing games for crazy amounts of time?  Perhaps the game is not suitable for a 13-year-old.  (I don’t know.)  But either way, isn’t it the parents’ responsibility to monitor what entertainment their children consume?

I just can’t understand the freedom he had to be able to play a game for 36 straight hours…  I played a lot of video games when I was 13, but never anything close to that because my parents would make sure I spent time playing outside, sleeping, and having time with my family and friends.  Even though there weren’t all these studies on the effects of video games on children, my parents knew that filling my day with video games wasn’t healthy.

I’m not trying to pass judgment on that boy’s parents…  I know it’s a different culture and perhaps there were some obscure circumstances that allowed this to happen.  But nonetheless, it’s not the company’s fault.  The parents are demanding the company put a warning on the game’s packaging that says “playing games excessively harms health”.  Even if that happens, the parents still have to regulate it, because a 13-year-old probably isn’t going to cut back because of that warning.

Sadly, this kind of lawsuit is becoming more and more commonplace…

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