A Russian man is suing Bethesda because Fallout 4 is "addictive"

So, some Russian bloke is suing Bethesda for 500,000 Rubles because of how addictive Fallout 4 is. According to various gaming news websites, he lost his job and his wife because of it, and believes that Fallout 4 should carry a warning about how addictive it is, and that if he had known, he wouldn’t have started playing it until he had the free time.

We’ve seen these stories before – “tragic teen gamer dies after playing computer for 22 days in a row“, “man dies in Taiwan after 3-day online gaming binge” – there was even an episode of Boston Legal about a gaming publisher being sued for a game being too addictive.
So does this mean it’s time to really start looking at the very real dangers of video games, and to crack down on a dangerous sub-culture? Is it time for Obama to declare The War on Games?

Well, no.

I hate to seem insensitive, but it’s not the games at fault here. Yes, games are addictive. Of course they are; anything that you enjoy that produces dopamine can be called addictive. Levelling up in World of Warcraft is followed by a congratulatory sound and a little gold explosion. You did that. Only you. You’re seeing and hearing your efforts be rewarded, and that’s a powerful drug. Hell, studies suggest that job happiness can be ranked by how often you see the fruits of your labour fulfilled. Video games are no different in this regard.

EvE is different, because IT IS a job.

So why isn’t it the fault of the game? Frankly, because the problem isn’t wide spread. I may be a terrible example here (being the “Easily Distracted Gamer”), but roughly 31 hours into Fallout 4, I’m bored. I’m sick of trawling through various damp and dark holes, and carting shit back to my settlements to build a new shack has lost its shine. Will I be playing much more of Fallout 4? Well, I need to make a video on it, and I kinda want to finish the storyline, so… probably. But I’m not that fussed about it now.

However, I’ll agree that video game addiction does exist. And I won’t make any brash statements about it being restricted to just people with “addictive personalities”, because sometimes a game just *clicks* with you, and then you’re stuck.

Perhaps the dog died. I’d sue then.
I remember an incredible episode of TavernCast that covered addiction in World of Warcraft in amazing detail. One of the members of the podcast made himself addicted to the game by simply playing it a shit-load. He found that the more you played, the easier it was to just keep playing.
You know those feelings where your brain just suddenly goes “welp, time to stop playing now”? He pushed through those, and they eventually went away. He found it easier and easier to spend more time logged in, and it eventually became all he could think of. By the end, he had to force himself to go cold turkey.
It was a powerful account to hear. Because it does highlight a problem – but not with the video games themselves.
It’s a problem with the community, both in-game and around yourself. Simply put, you need people around you who will pull you out of it, because you’re unlikely to want to do so yourself.
But gaming has something of a problem in this regard. It can be a very solitary affair, and it’s easy to see how people can become addicted easily in single-player games. MMOs like WoW can make things easier, but if no-one notices the amount of hours you’re putting in – even if you have an active social life with your guildies – then it can become all too easy to become addicted without realising it.
But it’s not always as simple as keeping a weather eye out for your friends. With a game like Hearthstone, or Dota 2, you can be diving in and out of games and not run into the same person for the rest of the night. In that case, who pulls you out?
Who indeed.

Humans are generally social animals. Even misanthropes need someone. Just make sure that you keep those relationships close, and don’t let yourself be lost to the outside world. Video game addiction is a symptom of a larger problem – and it’s rarely the fault of the publisher or developer. Look to yourself, and you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Family Christmas is still hell though.

Stay safe out there, real world or otherwise. And Fallout 4 ain’t worth it.

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