Fortnite gaming addiction lawsuit not extreme, Fayetteville psychology professor says

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The popular game known as Fortnite continues to be under the spotlight amid a lawsuit claiming it's as addicting as cocaine.

Fortnite, created by Cary-based Epic games, was intentionally created to be "as addictive as possible" according to a lawsuit filed by a Canadian attorney. The case stems from parents' claims that the game ruined their children's lives.

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Dr. Mark Kline, an associate professor of psychology at Methodist University, said that comparison isn't too extreme.

"Playing video games actually operates on the same circuitry that cocaine and heroin and these things operate on," Kline said.

Fortnite made its way to screens in 2017, becoming a pop-culture sensation that's prompted dances, viral videos and references in film and TV.

The lawsuit's claims that Epic Games purposely made the game addicting is not far reaching either.

"Games in particular are really based on Skinner's Theory of Learning," Kline said.

B.F. Skinner's theory suggests that positive reinforcement strengthens a behavior by providing a consequence a person finds rewarding. Dr. Kline said gambling is another prime example of this sort of strategy.

"As you're playing the game, you start to increase your skills and you're recognized with that by rewards," Kline added.

The Department Chair of Psychology said signs of addiction include: depression, anxiety, and trouble sleeping; however, that term only applies to a small percentage of gamers.

"Probably the best research that we've had has been done up in Norway. It shows anywhere between 2 percent to 6 percent of gamers as being, meeting the criteria of being addicted," Kline said.

Experts encourage parents to use the same method of positive reinforcement by turning video games into the reward.
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