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Montreal parents seek class action against makers of 'addictive' Fortnite
Published Friday, October 4, 2019 8:55AM EDT Last Updated Friday, October 4, 2019 7:30PM EDT
MONTREAL -- A Montreal law firm is seeking permission to file a class action against the creators of Fortnite after parents said their two kids have become addicted to the wildly popular online video game.
The legal firm Calex, which specializes in class actions, on Thursday filed a request with the Quebec Superior Court to authorize the suit against Epic Games and its Canadian subsidiary.
The class action would be a world first, said Calex, because class action exclusion clauses aren't valid in Quebec.
The firm is representing parents of two children, aged 10 and 15, who they say are addicted to the game.
"The creators of the game set out to create the game specifically to make it as addictive as possible," said Calex lawyer Alessandra Esposito Chartrand.
The firm is asking anyone else who believes they have been similarly affected by Fortnite to contact them.
"We hope to prove they had a duty to tell people of the risks of addiction. They have to take responsibility for the devastating effects it's having on people's lives," said Esposito Chartrand.
Epic Games launched Fortnite in 2017 and its various iterations quickly become some of the most played online video games in history. More than 250 million people around the world have played a version of Fortnite, according to a Business Insider report earlier this year.
In its court filing, Calex lawyers point to the fact that the World Health Organization in 2018 recognized addiction to video games as an illness. It also cites a report by addiction specialist Anita Ghadia-Smith that likens the addictive qualities of playing Fortnite to cocaine addiction.
It also alleges that addiction to Fortnite has a significant negative impact on a player's mental and physical health, that children and other young players are particularly susceptible to such harmful effects, and that these groups are the target market for Fortnite and its advertising and marketing efforts.
"All gaming manufacturers are trying to develop games that will encourage people to continuously play," said Jeffrey Derevensky, chair of the department of educational and counselling psychology at McGill University. "We know young people often lose sleep because they're gaming all night long. We know youngsters are not doing their schoolwork."
Some professional sports teams have issued curfews and bans on Fortnite for their players, including the Toronto Blue Jays and the Vancouver Canucks.
Derevensky warned that parents should be monitoring their child's behaviour online. Parents can't be saddled with all responsibility, though, said Esposito Chartrand.
"If a parent was fairly warned, would they have let their kids play Fortnite?" she said.
None of the allegations in the court filing have been proven in court. A Quebec Superior Court judge must now decide whether or not to allow the class-action lawsuit to proceed.
Calex is asking anyone who's been similarly affected by the game to contact them.
CTV News reached out to Epic Games for comment but didn't receive a response.