Virtually Blind Commentary
A stunningly ill-informed staff editorial from Illinois State University’s Daily Vidette says that “online roll-playing games” (Huh? Your avatar is a baguette?) are addictive, unhealthy, and potentially life-threatening. The piece is linked here, but really, don’t bother.
The reason for the editorial? The Vidette claims that “recently, reports have come from people actually dying while playing video games.”
There’s just so much material here. I can’t decide if I should start by pointing out that the referenced reports can’t actually come from dead people (who are, you know, dead), by asking what the hell the Vidette means by, “We can only wonder what the next generation of video gaming systems will bring us, but we are hoping for a message of guilt,” or by debunking the asinine claim itself.
The Vidette editorial focuses on a supposed lawsuit resulting from an incident in China in 2004 when a “13-year-old jumped off a 24 story building, either disillusioned or trying to imitate a move in the ORPG, World of Warcraft.” I say “supposed” lawsuit because while there are breathless reports of this lawsuit all over the place, there hasn’t been any news at all since the initial flurry and it seems likely the whole thing just disappeared.
Tragic? Yes. Actionable? You have got to be kidding. Next time you read about someone suing a game company over real-world activity that emulates activity in the virtual world, keep in mind this handy, two-word phrase taught in first-year torts classes everywhere: “proximate cause.”
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