Since long before the days of Joe Camel and tobacco, companies have sought to get young consumers hooked on their products. There’s big money in lifelong customers. That’s especially true if they’re addicted.
Addiction takes many forms – gambling, drugs, and even digital addiction. One form of digital addiction is excessive gaming. From apps to online games, there are dozens of games designed to keep you glued to the screen. That can have serious consequences from physical health side effects, to social and mental health issues, and even death. Victims and their families must recognize, this is not a personal flaw, this is by design.
From kids to adults, people around the world have become addicted to gaming. Indeed, the World Health Organization (“WHO”) has recognized “Gaming Disorder” in its draft of the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). It is defined as “a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) 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.” The pattern of behavior must be so severe that it impairs one’s personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning for at least one year. The WHO is not the only organization to recognize this. The American Psychiatric Association has included Internet Gaming Disorder in the research appendix of DSM V in 2013.
Gaming addiction is so serious there are treatment clinics around the country and the rest of the world. Perhaps unsurprisingly, just as the tobacco industry denied the serious problems associated with smoking for decades, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) refuted the WHO proposal in a statement saying it “trivializes real mental health issues.” Of course, they have their own cadre of experts who side with them. It’s an all too familiar, textbook response to a problem that is obvious to the rest of us living in the real world. Screen addiction is ubiquitous, but when profits are threatened, there has to be a defense.
I was a defense attorney for a brief time before I became a plaintiffs’ lawyer. I was hesitant to switch sides because, in part, I had heard about “frivolous lawsuits” and half-stories about supposed “runaway verdicts” like McDonald’s Hot Coffee. It took months for me to accept a position with a prominent plaintiffs’ law firm, but I eventually did so because I studied the science of the first litigation on which I would work. It was sound enough for me to take a leap of faith and I have never looked back.
Dozens of mass torts involving pharmaceuticals and medical devices later, the storyline regarding gaming addiction sounds quite familiar. Companies putting profits before safety. An industry attacking the science with recycled stories. The difference with this particular recurrence of corporate misconduct is that it is especially personal to me, and what these companies are doing to us – our families, our friends – is something I will be focused on for years to come.
At Ketterer, Browne & Associates, LLC it’s always personal. We formed our own firm so that we could have greater control over the cases we litigate. That allows us to litigate cases with the passion and obsessive commitment to success that made our prior firms very successful over the combined nearly 40 years of experience we left behind. We now bring that dedication to victims of gaming addiction. Victims have found redress in the courts for several years now. If you have a problem, there is help, and our firm may be able to help you hold those responsible accountable so that you can get the help you need.
Justin Browne, Esq.