Sunday, April 14, 2002

Sick man kills self after long hours on the web

According to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a twenty-one year old man killed himself last year after spending long hours playing in Sony's Everquest gaming site. The report said that the 21-year-old Shawn Woolley was addicted to EverQuest. He sacrificed everything so he could play for hours, ignoring his family, quitting his job and losing himself in a 3-D virtual world where more than 400,000 people worldwide adventure in a never-ending fantasy. His mother blames the game for her son's suicide and has hired an attorney to sue the company in an effort to get warning labels put on the games. "It's like any other addiction," Elizabeth Woolley said last week. "Either you die, go insane or you quit. My son died." The full text of the news is here.

If this action were to be filed by somebody from the Philippines, it is very likely that it will not prosper. Philippine law considers the man old enough to know what he was doing and to understand that playing on the web to the point of addiction is harmful to himself. To even insinuate that there is a cause and effect between his suicide and his addiction to the online game may even be considered absurd.Was Sony negligent in not posting warnings on its site that playing can cause harm? That is another way of looking at it. Is it possible that Sony's Everquest drove the man to suicide? While in the US people can get rich making this sort of connection, it is not the same in the Philippines where murderers are even paraded as heroes. Yet, it would be interesting to know how the US courts will tackle this first ever action on web addiction against a big company.

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