Gamer Sues NCSoft for Lineage II Addiction

Lineage II: Gracia final poster

Wired reports that a negligence lawsuit has been filed against the publisher of the popular MMORPG Lineage II, NCSoft. A Hawaiian man alleges that he has developed an addiction to the game so strong that he can no longer function normally: his daily activities, such as getting up, dressing and bathing, or communicating with loved ones has suffered as a result.

The plaintiff is Craig Smallwood, who demands an unspecified amount in monetary damages due to this addiction. He claims he has logged in over 20,000 hours between 2004-2009. According to Wired, Smallwood alleges that the company “acted negligently in failing to warn or instruct or adequately warn or instruct plaintiff and other players of Lineage II of its dangerous and defective characteristics, and of the safe and proper method of using the game.”

Gaming addiction is a curious issue. While the thought of it sounds absurd, cases of severe addiction have been known in the past, with some nasty results. The notorious South Korean couple that neglected their infant to death in favor of online play is one of the most upsetting, but South Korea also experimented with what in essence was a “game curfew” to tackle it’s addiction problem, limiting player freedom and playtime to cut addicts off.

NCSoft has asked that the case be dismissed, but at the moment it seems the federal judge is allowing the lawsuit to proceed. Parts of Smallwood’s complaint were not dismissed by U.S.District Judge Alan Kay, suggesting that a trial may be on its way.

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Men are keeping up appearances ; Demand grows for broader services.(Brief Article)

Crain’s Chicago Business November 13, 2000 | BLECHER, MICHELE BITOUN At Frank Gironda Salon & Day Spa in Naperville and Wheaton, male customers-some of whom sneaked in the back door in the ’70s because they wouldn’t be caught dead in a “women’s beauty salon”-are now sitting comfortably next to female counterparts getting cuts, color, manicures, even pedicures.

“The men’s market is a great market to go after, and it’s getting bigger and stronger, mainly with younger men,” says owner Frank Gironda. “They’re not shy about changing their hair color, their haircuts. They’re having fun with their hair.” Not only are Generation Xers and Yers going for looks popularized by the likes of Ricky Martin, but baby boomers are more apt to color their gray and pamper themselves with fashionable cuts, massages and manicures.

Salons across the country, including Chicago, have seen a 10% to 15% increase in male clients in the past five years, and some are reporting that half their business is from men, says Nancy Flinn, a Weston, Conn.-based market research analyst specializing in the hair industry.

The men’s market offers the potential to boost revenues from the sale of new hair product lines for men, like American Crew, says Ms. Flinn. Retail sales average 10% to 12% of gross revenues but can reach 25%.

“If you want to increase your business, why go after the small percentage of females who may or may not be happy with their salon and are looking for something new (when you can go after) the huge percentage of men who don’t really have a place to get their hair cut?” says George Accattato, owner of Art & Science salons in Evanston and Chicago. men s haircuts

But men shouldn’t expect much overt courting. In an industry that relies mostly on word-of-mouth referrals to generate business, salon owners say they’re counting on attracting men mainly through referrals from women clients and changes in decor and displays.

“I think what you’re seeing is more of an entrepreneurial approach,” says Gordon Miller, executive director of the National Cosmetology Assn. in Chicago. “Advertising is happening more at the top end of the market, where the economics allow it to happen.” Mr. Accattato, whose male clientele has jumped to 35% since the salon opened in 1989, says an expansion five years ago allowed him to create a more neutral space-lots of wood and metal, more pictures of men on the walls, black unisex capes and men’s magazines.

“We had to change our salon to make it into a more male-friendly environment to attract more men,” says Mr. Accattato, who lectures about the male market to salon owners nationwide. When men peer into the windows of salons, “they don’t want to look like they’re the only one.” He always features one male-oriented window display, like a recent sports locker-room scene, and he places American Crew products prominently in the front. The popular line was launched by Mr. Accattato’s salon partner, David Raccuglia, who sold the company to Revlon Inc. men s haircuts

Mr. Gironda counts on getting business not only from referrals by women customers but also on staff training workshops, where stylists bring in men to experiment on. “From that, (the men) send their friends in, and their friends send their friends in,” he says.

Charles Ifergan, with three Chicago-area salons and a sizable advertising budget (5% to 6% of revenues), says he doesn’t spend more money to expand advertising; he just changed his focus. Now, a portion of ads go in the business and sports sections of local newspapers, and half the models featured on his Web site and in ad campaigns are men.

Mr. Ifergan also offers salon promotions, like free haircuts for female customers’ significant others. Before Father’s Day, he reminds clients of men’s gift packages. The upshot: More men are coming in not only for cuts and color but even services like eyebrow waxing.

However, going after the men’s market may not be for everybody, says Ms. Flinn. For one thing, if salons charge the traditional lower rate for men’s cuts, the extra business may not be worth it. “The question is, what if that hole during the day were filled by a woman instead of a man-would that be more revenue or less?” Ms. Flinn says.

Men’s haircuts have become just as sophisticated and involved as women’s cuts, experts say, and most salon owners who actively court men say that prices for men’s haircuts and styling are gradually approaching women’s prices. Mr. Gironda charges 20% less, but he schedules that much less time.

As a result of higher prices, these salons face stiff competition for the price- and convenience-conscious men who moved from barbershops to national value chains, like Supercuts Inc., where about 70% of the business is male, says Robert Passage, vice-president of Pivot Point International, a Chicago-based cosmetology school.

But while the owners of higher-end salons say that they’re going after a different men’s niche than the value chains are, they say they hope to cut into that market, too.